Master Sergeant Albert Callan (Rod Steiger) is one tough G.I. During World War II, he killed an enemy soldier with his bare hands. Now in postwar France, he wrests control of his army post away from an ineffective superior. But another Sergeant Callan lives behind the snarl and the stare: a man overwhelmed by his repressed attraction to a handsome young private (John Phillip Law). In this insightful exploration of homosexuality made in an era of widespread intolerance, Steiger (The Pawnbroker, In the Heat of the Night) gives a stunning performance - one both volcanic and nuanced - that illuminates Callan's tragic, tormenting battle with his true nature.
Long before "don't ask, don't tell," this melodrama made a mishmash of the issue of homosexuality in the military. Rod Steiger stars as Master Sergeant Albert Callan, a hero of WWII who is stationed at a U.S. Army base in France in 1952. A gruff, tough taskmaster, Callan turns the base from a shambles run by the alcoholic Captain Loring (Frank Latimore) into a model of efficiency and discipline -- though the lazy troops resent Callan for his efforts. Callan's been hiding his attraction to men for some time, and his eye is turned toward his attractive clerk, PFC Tom Swanson (John Phillip Law). Callan jealously refuses to grant Swanson permission to visit his French girlfriend (Ludmila Mikael) -- and even orders the younger man to stop seeing her. At first, Swanson interprets Callan's odd behavior as loneliness and forgives it, but after Callan kisses him, Swanson understands that his superior's attentions are sexual. Rebuffed, Callan tortures Swanson with unfair punishments and criticisms, earning his subordinate's animus.
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