The War Lover (1962)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 25, 1962 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Fans of the John Hersey novel upon which The War Lover is based are inevitably disappointed by the film version -- and legitimately so. Hersey's novel is a deftly written exploration of war and its effect on different types of men; its power lies in the manner in which it is written rather than in what it has to say, and that's the most difficult type of literature to transfer to the screen. Howard Koch's screenplay does an admirable job of capturing the energy and tension in the novel, but it sacrifices depth, nuance and characterization along the way. As a result, War comes across as a fairly involving war movie, but not one that stands out especially. Yes, it's to the film's credit that it presents a picture of a man who, in normal society, would be a dangerous, amoral heel but who finds in war the kind of environment in which he can thrive and make a contribution, all the while merely feeding his own ego and needs. But once this is established, there's not a lot that is done with it. Still, the actions sequences are exciting and well done, and aside from one notoriously weak fiery parachute sequence, the special effects are quite good. The love triangle is weak tea indeed, but the performances of Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner count for a lot.