There's more than a little of the school pageant in the rhythm of the movie: Though it's all neater than our school drama coaches could make it, the figures group and say their assigned lines and move on.
Although there's a slight suspicion that (as in Rossellini's work from this period) the plight of children is being used as a sort of emotional shorthand, the integrity and moving effect of this piece is never really in doubt.
One of a hand full of movies that I have experienced that remained true to the author and his work. If your fortunate enough to be familiar with France and Paris of the late 60s, early 70s it will be a tour de force for your memory. With much of it filmed on location you can close your eyes and smell the garlic and the Gauloises. The acting the actors everything about this film will make it one of great movies of our times, along with the likes of Eisensteins \"Alexander Nevsky\" and \"The Bridge on the River Kwai\". Read the book, then view the movie, and you too will be overwhelmed with superlatives. Oh, by the way I really liked it.
I have to say that Clift's plot is far less compelling than Lancaster's and something of the zip goes when Frank Sinatra disappears from the action, sent to the stockade. But what a punch this movie still packs.