Gregory Peck plays a benevolent God-like figure in a white smock as Captain Josiah Newman, the head of a psych-unit at a Southwestern army base during the waning days of World War II. Newman is a patriarchal protector to his patients, preferring to keep him in his ward, rather than return them to certain death on the battlefield. The matriarchal figure of the ward is Lieutenant Grace Blodgett (Jane Withers), but Newman is more interested in his assistant Lieutenant Francie Corum (Angie Dickinson), with whom he is having an affair. Further help is provided by human nature expert, Corp. Jackson Laibowitz (Tony Curtis), the orderly. And Newman needs all the help he can get. Particularly with three patients: Colonel Bliss (Eddie Albert) is suffering from a guilt complex from all the men he has sent to death; Corporal Tompkins (Bobby Darin, in an Academy Award-nominated performance), although decorated for bravery in combat, calls himself a coward for failing to save his pal from a burning plane; and Captain Winston (Robert Duvall) is guilt-ridden and has lapsed into catatonia because he had hidden for over a year in the basement of a building in Germany. Although Newman wants to cure these men of their psychological problems, he doesn't want to see them returned to the war to be killed.