Never So Few


2h 4m 1959
Never So Few

Brief Synopsis

A U.S. military troop takes command of a band of Burmese guerillas during World War II.

Photos & Videos

Never So Few - Frank Sinatra & Gina Lollobrigida Publicity Stills
Never So Few - Movie Posters
Never So Few - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Film Details

Also Known As
Sacred and Profane
Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Canterbury Productions, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Burma; Burma, United States; Sri Lanka; Myanmar; India; Ceylon
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Never So Few by Tom T. Chamales (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
11,186ft (14 reels)

Synopsis

In 1943 Burma, a unit of American and British forces under the Office of Strategic Services joins with the native Kachin to hold back the Japanese army. The unit, under the joint command of American captain Tom C. Reynolds and British captain Danny De Mortimer with guidance from Kachin leader Nautaung, remains frustrated by their lengthy, grueling duty, limited supplies and lack of medical care. After an ambush mission during which the unit wipes out a Japanese squad, Tom's aid, Bye Ya, is severely wounded. Knowing that because they have no morphine Bye Ya will die a lingering, painful death, Tom shoots him, dismaying Danny. Tom then angrily contacts army headquarters in Calcutta and demands to meet with his commanding officer. A few days later in Calcutta, Tom and Danny are met by Corp. Bill Ringa, who has been assigned as their driver. That evening at dinner, the men run into the O.S.S. regional commanding officer Col. Fred Parkson, who introduces them to wealthy merchant Nikko Regas and his girl friend, Carla Vesari. Tom is immediately attracted to Carla and asks her to dance, but she mocks his provincial American background. As he departs, Nikko invites the men to his country place at the base of the Himalayan mountains. The next day at headquarters, Tom demands a doctor for the unit but Parkson informs him that medical officers are in short supply and it will be their responsibility to secure a doctor. After Parkson then unexpectedly orders the men to take two weeks leave, Tom refuses unless the Kachin are also officially provided leave. When Parkson agrees, Tom asks to have Ringa reassigned as his new aide, as he has grown fond of the corporal's ingenuity and fearlessness. Tom, Danny and Ringa drive to Cowaga and upon arriving at their hotel receive a note from Nikko, inviting them to a party. At the party, Tom seeks out Carla and despite her cool attitude, asks to see her the next day. The following morning after horseback riding, Tom and Carla are joined by Danny for a tour of the Himalayan villages. During the tour, Danny falls ill and, upon returning to Nikko's house, is misdiagnosed as having typhus by military doctor Capt. Grey Travis. Danny insists that he is having a reoccurrence of malaria and after several tests, Travis reluctantly agrees. Nikko offers to put the men up until Danny recovers and, eager to be near Carla, Tom accepts. Noting Carla's attraction to Tom, Nikko cautions her of the unreliability of Americans. After Nikko departs for China, Carla spends more time with Tom, but continues to refuse his romantic overtures. Upon Danny's recovery, Tom informs Travis that he has had the doctor assigned to their unit as medical officer. Tom then surprises Carla by insisting that she leave Nikko because Tom intends to marry her. Tom and the others return to the Kachin hills in time to spend Christmas with the troops, but their celebration is interrupted when the Japanese unexpectedly attack and wound Tom. Ringa learns from a captured Japanese soldier that the strike was planned with inside information. Nautaung is dismayed when he discovers that one of his men, Billingsley, and a native Shan girl have betrayed them. When Tom orders the two executed, Travis protests vigorously, but Tom insists that the dangers of jungle warfare demand harsh measures. Travis then sends Tom and the other soldiers wounded in the attack to the air base hospital in Calcutta to recover. There, Parkson gives Tom new orders to destroy an airfield in Ubachi, near the Chinese border. When Tom objects that his small unit lacks the supplies to make a successful attack, Parkson assures him they will receive supplies from their Chinese allies. Later, Carla visits Tom and invites him to stay with her when he has recovered. The day before returning to the hills, Tom goes to see Carla, but is disappointed to find her in a luxurious hotel, which she admits is at Nikko's expense. Tom criticizes Carla's inability to put aside her desire for luxury and departs hurt and angered. Tom rejoins his unit and they proceed on their mission. When the supply convoy fails to arrive at the designated time, Tom decides they must go ahead with the attack anyway. Although the mission is successful, Nautaung and several Americans are killed. While making their way back, the unit comes across the destroyed convoy and finds evidence that indicates that renegade Chinese from across the border were responsible. Tom decides to pursue the renegades, despite Danny's protest. The men find the Chinese camp at nightfall and locating their supply tent, come upon several dozen American dog tags and personal effects. Shocked and outraged, Tom realizes the renegades have been killing American soldiers. Danny translates one of several Chinese warrants from the Chung King government authorizing independent military forces to defend China in and outside their borders against all foreign intruders, and stating that all confiscated materials will be split with Chung King. Tom rouses the Chinese in the camp and holds them under guard, but when he radios headquarters to report, he receives a message ordering his immediate return as the Chinese have lodged a complaint about his unit's incursion. While Tom consults with Danny about the prisoners, a Chinese soldier surprises them and kills Danny. Tom sends a message back to headquarters rebuffing their demand and orders Ringa to execute the prisoners. Upon returning to Burma, Tom promotes Ringa and places him in command of the unit, then proceeds to Calcutta where he is placed under house arrest. Carla visits Tom and confesses that she could not tell him earlier that Nikko is with intelligence and she is his assistant. Carla advises Tom to say that battle fatigue caused his defiant incursion into China, but he refuses. Later, Parkson and his commanding officer, Gen. Sloan, visit Tom who shows them one of the Chinese warrants. Sloan advises Tom not to mention the warrants and demands that he apologize to the representative of the Chinese government. Tom declines and offers Sloan the American dog tags found at the renegade camp. A military psychiatrist is brought in to examine Tom for a possible mental discharge, but Tom refuses to cooperate. The Chinese representative then arrives, and Sloan unexpectedly sides with Tom, demanding that the warlord who has killed American servicemen be reported and an apology issued from China to the U. S. Stung, the representative departs and Sloan reveals that the Chung King government had already sent an apology with a promise to investigate the murders. Exonerated, Tom is freed and reunites with Carla.

Photo Collections

Never So Few - Frank Sinatra & Gina Lollobrigida Publicity Stills
Here is a series of stills of Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida, taken for Never So Few (1959). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Never So Few - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters from MGM's Never So Few (1959), starring Frank Sinatra and Gina Lolabrigida. For the 1960s re-issue poster, supporting player Steve McQueen was elevated to co-star on the poster art.
Never So Few - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Never So Few (1959), starring Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lawford and Steve McQueen, and directed by John Sturges.
Never So Few - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for MGM's Never So Few (1959), starring Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater. The original Herald insert is also included.

Film Details

Also Known As
Sacred and Profane
Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Canterbury Productions, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Burma; Burma, United States; Sri Lanka; Myanmar; India; Ceylon
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Never So Few by Tom T. Chamales (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
11,186ft (14 reels)

Articles

Never So Few


In Never So Few (1959) Frank Sinatra heads back to World War II. This time it's Burma where Sinatra commands a small group of American and British guerillas using hit-and-run tactics against much larger Japanese forces. However, he's ordered back to Calcutta to pick up a doctor (Peter Lawford) and much-needed medical supplies. While there, Sinatra is shown the sights by a military driver (Steve McQueen) and falls for the mysterious Carla (Gina Lollobrigida), the girlfriend of a local gunrunner. Eventually Sinatra must head back to his troops, accompanied by Lawford and McQueen. On the way, they're surprised by the Japanese in Burma and discover secret arms movements by the Nationalist Chinese while trying to get more than just lukewarm support from the higher command.

Never So Few was conceived as something of another "Rat Pack" film with Sinatra, Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. but a temporary squabble between Sinatra and Davis led to Steve McQueen getting Davis' intended part. At this time McQueen was best known for starring in TV's Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-61) though a few drive-in theatre buffs may have remembered him from The Blob (1958). It was a lucky break for McQueen, who so impressed director John Sturges that Sturges would use the actor for starring roles in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963) (along with Charles Bronson, who has a smaller part in Never So Few). Keep an eye out during a hospital scene for George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu).

Director: John Sturges
Producer: Edmund Grainger
Screenplay: Millard Kaufman, based on the novel by Tom T. Chamales
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editor: Ferris Webster
Art Direction: Addison Hehr, Hans Peters
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Cast: Frank Sinatra (Tom Reynolds), Gina Lollobrigida (Carla Vesari), Peter Lawford (Captain Grey Travis), Steve McQueen (Bill Ringa), Richard Johnson (Captain Danny De Mortimer), Paul Henreid (Nikko Regas).
C-125m. Letterboxed. Close captioning.

by Lang Thompson
Never So Few

Never So Few

In Never So Few (1959) Frank Sinatra heads back to World War II. This time it's Burma where Sinatra commands a small group of American and British guerillas using hit-and-run tactics against much larger Japanese forces. However, he's ordered back to Calcutta to pick up a doctor (Peter Lawford) and much-needed medical supplies. While there, Sinatra is shown the sights by a military driver (Steve McQueen) and falls for the mysterious Carla (Gina Lollobrigida), the girlfriend of a local gunrunner. Eventually Sinatra must head back to his troops, accompanied by Lawford and McQueen. On the way, they're surprised by the Japanese in Burma and discover secret arms movements by the Nationalist Chinese while trying to get more than just lukewarm support from the higher command. Never So Few was conceived as something of another "Rat Pack" film with Sinatra, Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. but a temporary squabble between Sinatra and Davis led to Steve McQueen getting Davis' intended part. At this time McQueen was best known for starring in TV's Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-61) though a few drive-in theatre buffs may have remembered him from The Blob (1958). It was a lucky break for McQueen, who so impressed director John Sturges that Sturges would use the actor for starring roles in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963) (along with Charles Bronson, who has a smaller part in Never So Few). Keep an eye out during a hospital scene for George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu). Director: John Sturges Producer: Edmund Grainger Screenplay: Millard Kaufman, based on the novel by Tom T. Chamales Cinematography: William H. Daniels Editor: Ferris Webster Art Direction: Addison Hehr, Hans Peters Music: Hugo Friedhofer Cast: Frank Sinatra (Tom Reynolds), Gina Lollobrigida (Carla Vesari), Peter Lawford (Captain Grey Travis), Steve McQueen (Bill Ringa), Richard Johnson (Captain Danny De Mortimer), Paul Henreid (Nikko Regas). C-125m. Letterboxed. Close captioning. by Lang Thompson

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.


Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute.

After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland.

TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place:

8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960)
10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963)
1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976)

Charles Bronson, 1921-2003

Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81.

He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him.

Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954).

Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.

These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977).

Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.

Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute. After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland. TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place: 8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960) 10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963) 1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967) 4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976) Charles Bronson, 1921-2003 Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him. Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954). Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977). Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

'Steve McQueen' 's role was originally going to be played by Sammy Davis Jr.. A feud had broken out between Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra after he had claimed in a radio interview that he was a greater singer than Sinatra. Sinatra demanded he be dropped from the cast, and McQueen got the part.

Notes

The working title for the film was Sacred and Profane. With the exception of Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida, the onscreen cast were presented in the opening credits with brief clips from the film. According to a Hollywood Reporter November 1956 news item, M-G-M purchased Tom Chamales' novel Never So Few before its publication. A Hollywood Reporter item from that same month and year noted that Sam Zimbalist would produce the film. A December 1958 Daily Variety item stated that screenwriter Millard Kaufman was being considered to direct. Other news items indicated that John Sturges was in long-pending negotiations to direct. An October 1958 Hollywood Reporter casting note stated that Roger Moore was being considered for the role of "Maj. Danny De Mortimer." A modern source claims that Sinatra initially had a role rewritten to accommodate Sammy Davis, Jr., but after the two quarreled, Sinatra had the part reworked for Steve McQueen.
       Hollywood Reporter items from September and December 1958 revealed that shooting had been approved in Burma (now known as Myanmar) by the local government, but by April 1959 a Los Angeles Times item indicated the film was to be shot in Hawaii. The Variety review noted, however, that the bulk of the film was shot on the M-G-M Culver City, CA lot and other domestic sites, highlighted by location footage in Burma, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India. The Hollywood Reporter review stated that Chamales was a member of the famed "Merrill's Marauders," a unit that served with distinction in Burma during World War II. According to the Hollywood Reporter review, the plot point within Never So Few which shows the anti-Communist Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek providing authorization for warlords to cross borders and kill indiscriminately during World War II was based on fact. Chamales had made the same accusation in a non-fiction article, "Betrayal in China," published in True Magazine in January 1958. The review related that the Los Angeles Consul General for the Republic of China vehemently denied the accusation, and the reviewer was unable to substantiate it in his own research.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video January 10, 1989

Released in United States Winter December 1959

First featured screen role for Steve McQueen.

CinemaScope

Released in United States on Video January 10, 1989

Released in United States Winter December 1959