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The Purple Heart is an American war film first released in 1944, directed by Lewis Milestone. The film is based on a story by Darryl F. Zanuck and Richard Carroll and stars Dana Andrews, Richard Conte and Farley Granger. Our overall rating for this film is: good. March 9, 1944 THE SCREEN By BOSLEY CROWTHER Close on the heels of our Government's grim and horrifying reports of Japanese atrocities against war prisoners taken in the Philippines comes a stinging and timely motion picture, eloquently titled "The Purple Heart," which brings home a sharply personal drama of American fliers captured by the Japanese. Whether the facts of this picture are documented to the last detail, whether it records actualities, are matters not yet fully revealed. We must wait till the war's end, most likely, to know the real story it assumes. But so honest and thoroughly consistent with American character is the tale of individual heroism recounted in the Roxy's new film, so clearly in keeping with the nature of the enemy is its grim detail, that we are safe in accepting this picture—along with the artocity reports—as general truth. And 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. Based on a Japanese announcement that a group of our fliers, brought down during the Tokyo bombing raid in April, 1942, were executed after "investigation and confession," this film simply reconstructs the trial and the manner in which those men were treated, as is justifiably supposed. It brings eight crewmen of a bomber, dazed and bewildered, into a Japanese civil court, there ot stand trial for murder, although they are legally prisoners of war. It shows how these eight are bullied at this mockery of a trial in a desperate attempt to wring from them an admission of whence their planes took off. It gives a searing description of the tortures they are made to undergo, of their wavering resolve to stay silent—and of their firm fulfillment of trust in the end. On the face of it, such a story might seem harshly depressing in a film, but in this one it rings with gallant spirit and with inner nobility. For Darryl F. Zanuck has produced this picture for Twentieth Century-Fox and Lewis Milestone has directed it with power and integrity. They have admirably resisted the temptation to make it a catalogue of horrors and have rather invested it with the tension of a vital and dramatic trial. Although five of the accused men are tortured, the physical treatments are never shown. Suspense is maintained through the caution of keeping the brutal extremes a mystery. And mental strain and anguish are thereby intensified. Also, in the performance of this picture, the Messrs. Zanuck and Milestone have evoked a crispness and credibility which carry tremendous effect. Dana Andrews is magnificently congruous as the leader of the bomber crew, and Sam Levene, Farley Granger and Richard Conte are likewise honest among his men. Richard Loo is a barb of inhumanity as a cold-blooded Japanese war lord, Peter Chong makes a hateful elder statesman and H. T. Tsiang is an unctuous Chinese "Quisling." The title, of course, has reference to the decoration which is given American troops who shed their blood for their country, and it is richly appropriate. For here is truly a picture of heroic self-sacrifice in this war. Here is a film which hammers the deep chords of sympathy. It is, on the screen, a fine incentive to a consciousness of our national soul. 'Purple Heart' Premiere THE PURPLE HEART, written for the screen by Jerome Cady; from a story by Melville Crossman; directed by Lewis Milestone; produced by Darryl Zanuck for Twentieth Century-Fox. At the Roxy. Captain Harvey Ross . . . . . Dana Andrews Lieut. Angelo Canelli . . . . . Richard Conte Sergeant Howard Clinton . . . . . Farley Granger Sergeant Jan Skvoznik . . . . . Kevin O'Shea Lieut. Peter Vincent . . . . . Donald Barry Lieut. Wayne Greenbaum . . . . . Sam Levene Lieut. Kenneth Bayforth . . . . . Charles Russell Sergeant Martin Stoner . . . . . John Craven DNB Correspondent . . . . . Tala Birell General Ito Mitsubi . . . . . Richard Loo Mitsuru Toyama . . . . . Peter Chong Russian Newpaperman . . . . . Gregorv Gaye Karl Keppel . . . . . Torben Meyer German Newspaperman . . . . . Kurt Katch Italian Newspaperman . . . . . Martin Garralaga Argentinian Newspaperman . . . . . Nestor Paiva Yuen Chiu Ling . . . . . H. T. Tsiang Mov Ling . . . . . Benson Fong Admiral Kentara Yamagichi . . . . . Kev Chang Japanese Newspaperman . . . . . Beal Wong The greatness of the The Purple Heart is subtle: it is a seemingly small, perfunctory sort of film, but then it takes us by surprise. Its emotional power sneaks up on us, and as we contemplate the film, we realize how insightful it is around the edges. It's excellently directed, technically proficient, and well acted. Director Lewis Milestone accomplishes a difficult feat by earning our sympathy for thinly defined characters. They are thinly defined for a reason: although they are based on real-life persons, the men of this film, Americans who were caught by the Japanese after bombing Japan in World War II, could be any of the soldiers who served the United States in the war. They could be any of the soldiers who served the United States in any war. The greatness of this film lies in its depiction of the greatness of its characters and the great sacrifices that ordinary men can and will make for the love of their country. They're not fearless or unflinching, but, like a great many others, they gave everything they had to fight for the freedoms we have today. We cannot ever forget the sacrifices our veterans made for us in wars past. This film is a heartbreaking reminder. I cried through this. I don't mean I got teary-eyed; by the end, I was crying in full. Not from sadness: from overwhelming respect and gratitude. Perhaps the emotional power of the film stems from how unmanipulative it is. Well, it could be considered manipulative in the sense that, really, all films are manipulative, but The Purple Heart doesn't cheat by employing weepy music and melodramatic prose to accomplish its ends. It plays honestly. The actions of the characters are allowed to speak for themselves. At the end, the film underscores a dramatic scene with an orchestration of "Into the Wild Blue Yonder," a move that could scarcely be more visibly manipulative, but by this time it has earned every ounce of emotion it is shooting for that the moment works. Moreover, the film is not simplistic in its depiction of the Japanese, nor of the Chinese, who are also involved in this story. Wartime propaganda has a tendency to paint the enemy as parts of a machine, wholly united in mind and spirit. There is none of that here: each character is a unique individual. This simple acknowledgement adds an important level of realism that ultimately adds to the film's power. And there is more. Brief scenes with members of the international press hint at other sorts of gray areas, for example. I could talk longer about all the little details in the backdrop of this film, but ultimately it's not about all that. It's about the Americans, unjustly on trial in a civil court as war criminals, and the things they endure through it. It's not an easy film to watch, but it's an important one. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this blatant U.S. flag-waving war film (that isn't really a war film, but a courtroom drama) - rife with such strident propaganda that I almost stood and saluted... and I'm not even American! Director Lewis Milestone will oft be remembered for All Quiet On The Western Front from 1930 as well a vast varietal range including the musical Hallelujah I'm a Bum and the later atmospheric Film Noir - The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It takes a special kind of ability to instill patriotism in an obvious but still effective manner. Milestone is right on the money here. The story deals with the fate of a captured American bomber crew - stacked with Dana Andrews as Capt. Harvey Ross, Richard Conte as Lt. Angelo Canelli, Farley Granger as Sgt. Howard Clinton and Kevin O'Shea as Sgt. Skvoznik among the notable performances. The Japanese hierarchy stage a kangaroo court in civil jurisdiction to threaten our lads with the death penalty if they don't give up some vital information. Cruel torture - both physical and psychological are used and the tension builds in a patient, measured fashion. If you can respect this expression for its historical significance, the time period it was made, and Milestone's ability to bowl you over, only at the appropriate moments, then you will love this film as I do. A real gem that I strongly recommend!
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