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Yellow Jack (1938)

Passed | | Drama, History, Mystery | 27 May 1938 (USA)
In the fever-stricken areas of Cuba a brave band of scientists, doctors and U. S. Marines fight a losing battle against the deadly plague of 'Yello Jack,' until the great heroic risk taken by an Irish sergeant brings victory.

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(screen play), (from the play by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John O'Hara
...
Frances Blake
...
Major Reed
...
Charlie Spill
...
Dr. Jesse Lazear
...
Dr. Finlay
...
'Jellybeans'
Henry O'Neill ...
Gorgas
...
Miss Macdade
...
Breen
...
Brinkerhof
Sam Levene ...
Busch
Stanley Ridges ...
Dr. James Carroll
...
Ferguson
Jonathan Hale ...
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Storyline

In 1898 Cuba, U.S. troops who have survived the Spanish-American War are now dying by the hundreds from disease -- yellow fever, known as "yellow jack." Major Walter Reed, an Army physician, struggles to find the cause of the infection and to overcome governmental interference. When an answer seems at last possible, Reed decides that the only way to test the theory is to expose his own men to the disease. He cannot order men to undergo the test. Yet finding volunteers seems impossible. Without them, though, yellow jack will perhaps kill millions. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 May 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cinco Heróis  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many cast members in studio records/casting call lists did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. These were (with their character names): Frank O'Connor (Officer), Billy Arnold (Officer), Larry Steers (Officer), Francisco Marán (Interpreter), Joe Dominguez (Second Interpreter), Dick Wessel (Cavalryman), Ted Oliver (Cavalryman) and Charles Sullivan (Cavalryman). See more »

Goofs

While Breen and the other men are digging and talking about mosquitoes, his hair changes from being combed and uncombed between shots. See more »

Crazy Credits

Yellow Jack celebrates what these men did, rather than what they were. That their heroism however, should not go unrecorded, their true names are here given. (Followed by the names of the 5 volunteers for the yellow fever experiment.) See more »

Connections

Version of Celanese Theatre: Yellow Jack (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Goodbye Cuba
(uncredited)
Composer unknown
Played by a marching band and sung by the soldiers
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User Reviews

 
Somewhat like a bad imitation of a John Ford movie
28 February 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is circa 1900 in Cuba, and after quickly winning the Spanish American war, the American military is finding more casualties and danger in the mysterious "Yellow Jack" or Yellow Fever than it ever found in the easily dispatched Spanish troops. There are multiple theories as to what causes the disease, and Walter Reed (Lewis Stone), a group of physicians, and a group of ordinary soldiers are set to the task of determining the actual cause.

The dialogue that is written for the ordinary enlisted men which is supposed to demonstrate camaraderie, personal dreams, personal fears - the kind of scenes that John Ford excelled at directing - is just awful. It drifts between boring and silly, especially the lines Buddy Ebsen is stuck with. Among the soldiers is Irish American John O'Hara (Robert Montgomery), in probably one of the worst roles MGM ever gave him.I wonder who exactly thought that Robert Montgomery playing this role with an Irish Brogue was a good idea?

For some reason absolutely beyond me, O'Hara is just mad about nurse Frances Blake (Virginia Bruce). Granted, O'Hara's approach is not at all smooth nor conscientious, but nurse Blake is just plain awful to the guy. When she's not being condescending to John O'Hara, she's trying to use her feminine wiles to get him to volunteer for what could possibly be a deadly experiment in such an obvious way that even the rather thick O'Hara gets that she did not decide to meet him in the moonlight because she suddenly found him irresistible.

When O'Hara does volunteer for Reed's experiment on the cause of Yellow Jack, Nurse Blake probably makes him wish he would die of the disease just so he wouldn't have to listen to her droning speeches and pontificating that are supposed to be encouragement and flattery?? He probably liked her better when she didn't like him, because she talked less! So what's good about this movie? Lewis Stone as Walter Reed, and believe it or not, I really liked Virginia Bruce here. MGM often cast her as demure likable girls, and she really has me disliking her here, so her performance was good and showed she had range as an actress, it was just a bad role. Also, although everyone has probably heard about Walter Reed, this film tells you his role in eliminating a common killer that was a problem not just in Cuba, but in the U.S. southern states until the cause was found.

Probably worth it just for the historical angle.


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