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Set during World War 2, the film concentrates on three individuals, one German, two American. Marlon Brando plays an idealistic German whose early fascination with Nazism leads to doubt and disillusionment. American entertainer Dean Martin, on the verge of the Big Time, does his best to dodge the draft but ends up in uniform all the same. And American Jew Montgomery Clift, so sensitive that he's practically breakable, must come to grips with anti-Semitism, not only from the Germans but also from his fellow soldiers. Romance enters the picture in the form of Hope Lange as Clift's gentile girlfrind, Barbara Rush as the socialite who shames Martin into joining up, and May Britt as Brando's vis-a-vis. Maximillian Schell offers a starmaking turn as Brando's cynical comrade, while an uncredited John Banner, "Sergeant Schultz" on Hogan's Heroes, shows up as a pompous burgomeister who feigns ignorance of the hellish concentration camp in his community.

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