In Love and War (1958)


In Love and War is a 1958 CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color film set in World War II, directed by Philip Dunne.

It is based on the 1957 novel The Big War by Anton Myrer (his second novel) who was a former Marine wounded during the Second Battle of Guam in 1944.

Also known as The Big War and Hell Raisers (both US working titles). Refer to In Love and War (1987), (1996), (2001), (2011), and (2018). Refer to Once an Eagle, a 1976 TV Series based on Myrer’s first novel, the 1968 Once an Eagle.


The film traces the progress of three Marines on shore leave in San Francisco during World War II. One of the men, Nico (Jeffrey Hunter), is a seasoned, decorated platoon sergeant; the second, Frankie (Robert Wagner), is a perennial goof-off, who drinks too much; and the third, Alan (Bradford Dillman), is an intellectual from a wealthy family. He has joined the Marines, despite his father’s protests.

Nico proposes and marries his pregnant girlfriend Andrea (Hope Lange). A drunken Frankie fights with Charlie Stanton (Murvyn Vye), his hateful stepfather, who thinks him a coward. The wealthy Alan catches his fiancée, Sue (Dana Wynter), with another man.

Lorraine (Sheree North), who is in love with Frankie, has joined the military as a WAVE. She introduces his friend Alan to her roommate Kalai (France Nuyen), a nurse of Hawaiian-French heritage. They all go to Lorraine’s apartment, where Frankie first passes out, then wakes up screaming at the thought of returning to the war. Lorraine decides to leave him. Kalai professes her love for Alan.

The three men return to the Pacific front. Frankie initially shows cowardice and Nico slaps some sense into him. Later, Frankie saves Alan and is honoured for his heroism. Alan becomes ill with dengue fever and when a wounded Japanese soldier calls out to him for help, he tries to give the Japanese soldier some water but Nico shoots the wounded soldier and reveals to Alan and the other marines that a grenade was hidden under the wounded soldier as a trap. Alan then begins to question the futility of the war. When an advancing enemy tank threatens the platoon, Nico singlehandedly blows up the tank, but dies from his wounds.

Back home, Kalai visits Sue in the hospital after she tries to commit suicide. Suffering from alcohol withdrawal, Sue dies during Kali’s visit.

The war ends and Alan returns to Kalai and becomes a professor at the local university. Frankie, now promoted to sergeant, brings Nico’s last love letter home to Andrea, who has given birth to their child. Andrea tells Frankie, who has decided to stay in the Marines that she would like to see him again.


  • Robert Wagner as Private Frank “Frankie” O’Neill.
  • Dana Wynter as Sue Trumbell.
  • Jeffrey Hunter as Platoon Sergeant Nico Kantaylis.
  • Hope Lange as Andrea Lenaine.
  • Bradford Dillman as Private First Class Alan Newcombe.
  • Sheree North as Lorraine.
  • France Nuyen as Kalai Ducanne.
  • Mort Sahl as Danny Krieger.
  • Steven Gant as Babe Ricardo.
  • Harvey Stephens as Amory Newcombe.
  • Paul Comi as Father Wallensack.
  • Joe Di Reda as Capistron.
  • Buck Class as Derek.
  • Murvyn Vye as Charlie Scanlon.
  • Mary Patton as Grace Scanlon.
  • Veronica Cartwright as Allie O’Neill.
  • Brian Corcoran as Bobby O’Neill.
  • Nelson Leigh as Lieutenant Colonel Herron.
  • Ray Montgomery as Lieutenant.
  • James Philbrook as Sue’s Boyfriend.


Jerry Wald, who had a deal with Fox, bought the screen rights to The Big War in March 1957. It was one of a number of war novels bought by Fox at the time, including The Young Lions, The Hunters and The Enemy Below.

At one stage the film was known as Hell Raisers before being titled In Love and War. Wald wanted Lee Remick, Richard Widmark and Ben Gazzara to play the leads.

Bradford Dillman and Robert Wagner were cast in April 1958. Jeff Hunter and France Nuyen were cast in June.

Filming started in June 1958. Dunne says filming started with “half a script” and he had to do writing on location in the Pacific.

On his comedy album 1960 or Look Forward In Anger, Sahl said he wrote 16 pages of dialogue for his character and the other Marines but most of the material was edited from the final print. Director Phillip Dunne asked the producer Jerry Wald why Sahl’s name was not on the posters or advertisements. Wald responded that he was told that there was nothing in Sahl’s contract that required him to receive any billing. Wald signed Sahl on to a personal contract with the intention of casting him as a beatnik in The Best of Everything (1959).


  • Hugo Friedhofer’s title theme from The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), another Fox film set in WWII, is used in the scenes between Bradford Dillman and Dana Wynter.
  • Although the film is set during the final days of World War II, which ended in 1945, outside the San Francisco hotel where Jeffrey Hunter and Hope Lange spend their honeymoon are parked, among other vehicles, a 1954 Ford and a 1952 Plymouth; CinemaScope panoramas of San Francisco streets, and the San Francisco skyline are all contemporary 1958 views.
  • The women all wear hairstyles of the 1950s and all their clothes are strictly 1958 styles.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Philip Dunne.
  • Producer(s):
    • Jerry Wald … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Edward Anhalt (screenplay).
    • Anton Myrer (novel).
  • Music:
    • Hugo Friedhofer.
  • Cinematography:
    • Leo Tover … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • William Reynolds.
  • Production:
    • Jerry Wald Productions (for).
    • Twentieth Century Fox.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Twentieth Century Fox (1958) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Twentieth Century Fox Film Company (1958) (UK) (theatrical).
    • Twentieth Century Fox (1959) (France) (theatrical).
    • National Broadcasting Company (NBC) (1963) (USA) (TV).
  • Release Date: 31 October 1958 (US).
  • Rating: A.
  • Running Time: 111 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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