|The Purple Heart|
|Directed by||Lewis Milestone|
|Written by||Jerome Cady|
by Darryl F. Zanuck (as Melville Crossman)
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Starring|| Dana Andrews |
Don "Red" Barry
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Edited by||Douglas Biggs|
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
The Purple Heart is a 1944 American black-and-white war film, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by Lewis Milestone, and starring Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Don "Red" Barry, Sam Levene and Trudy Marshall. Eighteen-year-old Farley Granger had a supporting role.
The film is a dramatization of the "show trial" of a number of US airmen by the Japanese government during World War II. It is loosely based on the trial of eight US airmen who took part in the April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Japan. Three were later executed and one died as a POW.This film was the first to deal directly with the Japanese treatment of POWs and ran into opposition from the US War Department, which was afraid that such films would provoke reprisals from the Japanese government.
In April 1942, after a raid on Japan, eight American aircrew made up of the crews from two North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, are captured. Capt. Harvey Ross (Dana Andrews), becomes the leader of the captives. Initially, the men are picked up by a local government official who is a Chinese collaborator in a Wang Jingwei controlled section of China. Chinese collaborator delivers the Americans to the Imperial Japanese Army to be put on trial at the Shanghai Police Headquarters. Although international observers and correspondents are allowed to witness the trial, the commanding officer, General Mitsubi (Richard Loo) refuses to allow Karl Kappel (Torben Meyer), the Swiss Consul to contact Washington.
At the start of the trial, Lt. Greenbaum (Sam Levene), an attorney in civilian life (CCNY Law 1939), declares the trial is illegal, as the men are in the military service of their country. When the senior officer Captain Ross refuses to answer the demands of the sly General Mitsubi to reveal the location of their aircraft carrier, the general decides to break the men. The airmen endure harsh interrogation and torture from the Japanese guards with Sgt. Jan Skvoznik (Kevin O'Shea) left in a catatonic state with a permanent head twitch. In court, the men see the pitiful state of Skvoznik. Lts. Canelli (Richard Conte) and Vincent (Don "Red" Barry) rush the Japanese general, quickly felled by rifle butts and are returned to their cell. Canelli, an artist, suffers a broken right hand and arm. Vincent ends up in a catatonic state much like Skvoznik. Sgt. Clinton (Farley Granger) returns seemingly unharmed, but the Japanese have ruptured his vocal cords, and he is unable to speak. The Japanese have a listening device in the cell when Greenbaum (Sam Levene) repeats what the speechless Clinton writes. If anything happens to Lt. Bayforth (Charles Russell), he will tell all. After being tortured, Bayforth returns with his hands and arms useless, covered in black rubber gloves.
In the face of his captives' unshakable resolve and the realization that the Japanese are doomed to destruction, the sadistic General Mitsubi ultimately chooses to shoot himself. The systematic torture and abuse the airmen endured while in captivity, and their final humiliation of being tried, convicted and executed as war criminals is unveiled to the world.
Principal photography for The Purple Heart began on October 11, 1943 and continued to mid-January 1944.Zanuck and a team of writers endeavoured to ensure that the story was based on documentation and unofficial collaboration of the torture suffered by the prisoners, and "... should be almost documentary in its honesty ..." The United States Office of War Information (OWI) reviewed the script and was able to suggest some changes to strengthen the role of the Chinese civilians who had helped the Doolittle Raiders.
The Purple Heart was a work of wartime propaganda that had a stereotypical portrayal of the Japanese (usually by actors of non-Japanese origin) as sadistic tyrants trying to wrest the secret of their aircraft carrier's location during torture sessions.The 16 air crews did arrive over Japan from the USS Hornet (CV-8). President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the crews came from Shangri-La, a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. The USS Shangri-La (CV-38) was commissioned in 1944.
The Purple Heart was based on the real-life story of eight Doolittle Raiders who were captured from two different crews: Lieutenants Dean E. Hallmark, Robert J. Meder, Chase Nielsen, William G. Farrow, Robert L. Hite and George Barr, and Corporals Harold A. Spatz and Jacob DeShazer. Three Doolittle Raiders (Farrow, Hallmark and Spatz) were executed by the Imperial Japanese Army, while Meder died of disease in prison.In September 1945, after the Japanese surrender, the four survivors of the trial were repatriated back to the U.S. While three became regular civilians, Doolittle Raider Jacob DeShazer would return to Japan to be a minister.
The Purple Heart concluded with a speech where Dana Andrews as Capt. Harvey Ross declares that he now knew that he had understood the Japanese less than he had thought, and that they did not know Americans if they thought this would frighten them.
At the time of its release, the war in the Pacific was still raging and there was little concern for such excesses. The December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was still fresh in the minds of the American public. In later years, many of the principal players, including Dana Andrews, came to express regret over the more distasteful aspects of the film.
Released during the war, The Purple Heart inspired theatre patrons to purchase thousands of dollars of War Bonds, and opened to good reviews. The review in Variety reflected the times; "... an intensely moving piece, spellbinding, though gory at times, gripping and suspenseful for the most part."Bosley Crowther, the film reviewer of The New York Times , cautiously endorsed the film's patriotic message. "... an overpowering testimonial it is, too—a splendid tribute to the bravery of young men who have maintained their honor and dignity despite the brutal tortures of the Japanese; and a shocking and debasing indictment of the methods which our enemies have used. Americans cannot help but view this picture with a sense of burning outrage—and hearts full of pride and admiration for our men who have so finely fought and died." Harrison's Reports wrote, "A powerful drama, it grips one throughout." David Lardner of The New Yorker called "impressive" the "sheer imagination called for" to make a film about an event that happened in a country at a time when it could not be filmed on location. He also praised the performances of the leads as "convincing". However, he identified a drawback in that the film's events were overly "squeezed into too small a confinement of space and time" in order to serve dramatic purposes.
Carver Dana Andrews was an American film actor and a major Hollywood star during the 1940s. He continued acting in less prestigious roles into the 1980s. He is remembered for his roles as a police detective-lieutenant in the film noir Laura (1944) and as war veteran Fred Derry in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), the latter being the role for which he received the most critical praise.
The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, was an air raid on 18 April 1942 by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu during World War II. It was the first air operation to strike the Japanese archipelago. It demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attacks, served as retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned by, led by, and named after Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle.
The Marine Raiders are special operations forces originally established by the United States Marine Corps during World War II to conduct amphibious light infantry warfare. "Edson's" Raiders of 1st Marine Raider Battalion and "Carlson's" Raiders of 2nd Marine Raider Battalion are said to have been the first United States special operations forces to form and see combat during World War II.
John Morrison Birch was a United States Army Air Forces military intelligence captain, OSS agent in China during World War II, and a former Baptist minister and missionary. Birch was killed in a confrontation with Chinese Communist soldiers during an assignment he was ordered on by the OSS, ten days after the war ended. He was posthumously awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal.
Hart's War is a 2002 American thriller drama film about a World War II prisoner of war (POW) camp based on the novel by John Katzenbach. It stars Bruce Willis as Col. William McNamara and Colin Farrell as Lt. Thomas Hart. The film co-stars Terrence Howard, Cole Hauser and Marcel Iureş. The film, directed by Gregory Hoblit, was shot at Barrandov Studios in Prague, and released on February 15, 2002. The film earned mixed reviews and was a box office bomb grossing just $33.1 million against its $70 million budget.
Richard Conte, birth name Nicholas Peter Conte, was an American actor. He appeared in more than 100 films from the 1940s through 1970s, including I'll Cry Tomorrow, Ocean's 11, and The Godfather.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a 1944 American war film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo is based on the 1943 book of the same name by Captain Ted W. Lawson. Lawson was a pilot on the historic Doolittle Raid, America's first retaliatory air strike against Japan, four months after the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The raid was planned, led by, and named after United States Army Air Forces Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, who was promoted two ranks, to Brigadier General, the day after the raid.
Major Ted William Lawson was an American officer in the United States Army Air Forces, who is known as the author of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, a memoir of his participation in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942. The book was subsequently adapted into the 1944 film of the same name starring Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson and Robert Mitchum.
Jacob Daniel DeShazer participated in the Doolittle Raid as a staff sergeant and later became a Christian missionary in Japan.
Gung Ho! is a 1943 American war film directed by Ray Enright and starring Randolph Scott. The story is based somewhat on the real-life World War II Makin Island raid led by Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson's 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.
Chase Jay Nielsen was a career officer in the U.S. Air Force. He participated in the Doolittle Raid in 1942 and was one of the four surviving prisoners of war from that raid. Nielsen was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
David M. Jones served with distinction as a pilot and general officer, first with the U.S. Army Air Corps and later with the United States Air Force. His record during World War II includes being one of the Doolittle Raiders whose exploits in April 1942 were dramatized in the film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. He then flew combat missions over North Africa, where he was shot down. He was a German prisoner of war for two and a half years, helping with the April 1944 mass escape at Stalag Luft III.
Richard Eugene Cole was a United States Air Force lieutenant colonel. During World War II, he was one of the airmen who took part in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan, on April 18, 1942. He served as the co-pilot to Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle in the lead airplane of the raid by sixteen B-25 bombers, which for the first time took off from an aircraft carrier on a bombing mission.
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William Glover Farrow was a lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps who participated in the Doolittle Raid. In February 1942, he volunteered to participate in the raid, which took place on April 18 that year. Farrow was captured by the Japanese after the completion of his bombing mission. Along with two other crew members, he was tried and sentenced to death and executed by firing squad for firing machine guns at civilian targets. His ashes were recovered and interred in the Arlington National Cemetery in 1946, and he posthumously received multiple awards.
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William ‘Billy Jack’ Dieter was a sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps. Dieter was a bombardier on the Green Hornet, the sixth plane to take off from a US carrier as part of the Doolittle Raid, a bold long-range retaliatory air raid on the Japanese main islands, on April 18, 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack was a major morale booster for the United States. Dieter was one of only three airmen to die in the raid itself, when his B-25 Mitchell, 'Green Hornet', crashed on the coast of China, having run out of fuel.