Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who Knows Why I Read This?

I just finished reading The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw, originally published in 1948. The insightful book, written from the viewpoint of three soldiers: Christian Diestl, a German soldier, Noah Ackerman, an American soldier who is a Jew, and Michael Whiteacre, American actor turned soldier, brings to life the harsh reality of war.

I had seen the movie about a hundred years ago, but remembered very little about it. I remembered Marlon Brando as the character Christian Diestl, a German soldier who, in the novel, starts out as a pretty unextraordinary guy and ends up a dreadful and heartless product of the Nazi regime.

While reading the book, I suddenly remembered Montgomery Clift as Noah Ackerman, a shy and gentle American Jewish boy from California who joins the army, leaving his just-married wife whom he cherishes. Having Montgomery Clift mooning around as the fine and sensitive discriminated-against Jewish guy, who just wants to do the right thing then get back to his family, is all you need for a truly heart-breaking movie.

The film also stars Dean Martin as the play-boy actor, Michael Whiteacre, who describes himself as "a likable coward," and befriends the intriguing Noah Ackerman.

Now that I've read the book, I think I'd like to see the movie again, since it has been many years and many lifetimes since I first saw it.

This is a very good book, and very long, and very bloody, being about World War II, with shocking details of war, slaughter, and concentration camps. As with many books that I read nowadays, I decided to read it when I happened across it on the library bookshelf. As with most realistic accounts of war, it's very eye-opening, leaving the reader to wonder how anyone survived the battle field.

Almost forgot to add, one of my favorite things about the book is a song that pops up from time to time, sometimes in a happy way and sometimes very poignant. The song is Are You Making Any Money? written by Herman Hupfield.

You make time, and you make love dandy
You make swell molasses candy
But, honey, are you making any money?
That's all I want to know.


Post your bids in Comments! said...

One of the best war books ever! I read it many years ago, and I've seen the movie several times. M. Clift was one of the handsomest actors, but about mid-career, he was in a bad accident that messed up his face. He had plastic surgery that left him looking really strange. But he kept on making good movies.


JD Atlanta said...

I ran across the movie a few years ago. Until I saw it, I had always wondered why everyone thought Brando was such a great actor. He always seemed over-rated to me. But he really owned that movie.


Post your bids in Comments! said...

I agree with JD. Brando echoed some of that greatness in the Apocalypse movie with Martin Sheen. His main trouble was being in so many movies that weren't worth his talent. I think.


Post your bids in Comments! said...

P.S. Maximilian Schell also had a surprising role in this movie.