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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.



(screen play), (from the play by) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
John O'Hara
Frances Blake
Major Reed
Charlie Spill
Dr. Jesse Lazear
Dr. Finlay
Miss Macdade
Dr. James Carroll
Major General Leonard Wood


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


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Release Date:

27 May 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cinco Heróis  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film received its initial television showing in Philadelphia Saturday 6 April 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), followed by Chicago 20 April 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), by Altoona PA 22 April 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), by Binghamton NY 4 May 1957 on WNBF (Channel 12), by Seattle 5 June 1957 on KING (Channel 5), by Syracuse 15 June 1957 on WHEN (Channel 8), by Portland OR 18 June on KGW (Channel 8), by Tucson 15 July 1957 on KVOA (Channel 4), by New York City 3 September 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), by Honolulu 8 September 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), by Tampa 10 September 1957 on WFLA (Channel 8) and by Memphis 26 October 1957 on WHBQ (Channel 13); in San Francisco it first aired 3 June 1958 on KGO (Channel 7) and in Los Angeles 2 July 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11). See more »


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 »


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


You're In The Army Now
(1917) (uncredited)
Music by Isham Jones
Lyrics by Tell Taylor and Ole Olsen
Played by a bugler for a marching band
Played also as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting mainly for the casting...script from Sidney Howard play is too talky...
13 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

YELLOW JACK is not the enthralling film it should have been about a subject like finding the cure for YELLOW JACK (or malaria), and too much of the early set-up for the story is so talky that right away you can almost see the wheels turning slowly in Sidney Howard's stage play.

But once it gets down to the experimenting, it becomes more interesting to watch. Then again, there are plenty of flaws in the material. One is the insistence on using ANDY DEVINE as comic relief throughout. He makes such a buffoon of the squeaky-voiced dimwit, that his character becomes nothing more than a cartoon. Adding to the unreality, is the appearance of cool blonde VIRGINIA BRUCE as a hard-working nurse in Cuba, looking as fresh as a cucumber no matter how unbearable the heat or how trying the situations are. She looks perfectly groomed in every loving close-up and her acting is, as usual, bland.

ROBERT MONTGOMERY's brogue seems to have annoyed many viewers here, but he does an okay job with the accent. Only question is, why did he have to be portrayed as an Irishman in the first place? And furthermore, why given the name of John O'Hara, when we already had a famous writer by the same name known to the public? Montgomery sounds much like the character he played in NIGHT MUST FALL, but at least his performance here is far better and more convincing than Miss Bruce's work.

Other cast members are competent enough, but little screen time is given to CHARLES COBURN in a minor role as a cynical doctor. Those that make the biggest impression are ALAN CURTIS (handsome man was leading man material and deserved better than this kind of supporting role), SAM LEVENE, HENRY HULL (although a bit overwrought), and in a very brief role as one of the first victims, PHILIP TERRY.

Interesting mainly for the cast and the unusual aspects of the story, but definitely a film that needed to be made more cinematic rather than stagebound with too much talk during the first half-hour.

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