[box cover]

Never So Few

The Essential Steve McQueen Collection

  • Bullitt: Special Edition
  • The Cincinnati Kid
  • The Getaway
  • Never So Few
  • Papillon
  • Tom Horn
  • For a film starring Frank Sinatra and directed by John Sturges, at first glance it's odd that Never So Few (1959) would be released on DVD in a Steve McQueen box set. From the outset, it's not really his movie. Sinatra stars as Capt. Tom Reynolds, a rough and tumble soldier in Burma trying to hold off the Japanese in World War II, whose sidekick is Capt. Danny De Mortimer (Richard Johnson). Reynolds needs a doctor for his outfit, so he goes to headquarters and finds Dr. Grey Davis (Peter Lawford) in Calcutta. But he's also told to take two weeks off, and that's when he meets Carla Vesari (Gina Lollobrigida) — who is in the kept company of the bourgeois Nikko Regas (Paul Henreid) — and their attraction is immediate. He also finds Cpl. Bill Ringa (Steve McQueen), a driver who knows the ins and outs of most situations. The men return to Burma and are attacked on Christmas Eve, which leaves many wounded, including Reynolds. Reynolds decides to return the favor by staging a sneak attack in retaliation. But when they return home, it's only to discover Chinese warlords have slaughtered some of their men. The warlords were given a free pass by the Chinese government to do as they pleased with any supplies they came across, and they've been selling stolen weapons to the Japanese. Reynolds is warned not to intercede, but can't help himself. With a fairly good cast (including Charles Bronson and Dean Jones as troopers in Sinatra's unit), Never So Few is a startlingly dull film for the most part. Sinatra needed to be challenged or have good material to spring to life on screen, and he gets neither here, while his romance with Lollobrigida is hackneyed at best — he is Old Blue Eyes, so it's not like Henried ever stood a chance. But from the minute McQueen enters the picture it springs to life. As a go-to guy, he's shown taking out two MPs who try to confiscate his booze, and it's a great comedic action scene — his scrounger character is infinitely more appealing than anyone else on screen. It is McQueen's movie — mostly by default. At the time he was still working on his TV series "Wanted: Dead or Alive," only a year out from his odd leading part in The Blob, and with this title, his cinematic star was on the rise. For that alone, perhaps its inclusion in a Steve McQueen box-set makes perfect sense. Warner presents Never So Few in a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. A theatrical trailer and promo for the "Wanted: Dead or Alive" box set are also on board. Keep-case.
    —DSH



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