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Olivia de Havilland,
Dame May Whitty
In 1906 the American army pulls out of Mindanao leaving a handful of officers to try and get the Philippines Constabulary into shape to protect the native population from ruthless invaders. By reputation and by their exploits the fearless zealots initially strike terror into the local militia but the doctor on the post starts to finds ways to combat this. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
I had never even heard of this movie until I viewed it today. Thank God for the library's VHS collection. The plot, five US Army officers are tasked to be military advisors in the establishment of the Phillipine constabulary in 1906. Despite the colonel's plea, the war Department has decided US troops will no longer be responsible for protecting the local people because they will never learn to do it themselves if the US Army does it all. Sound familiar to anyone? The enemy are the Moro insurgents, who just happen to be Muslim. They are bent on establishing a Muslim state and are not too particular about how they do it. The movie points out that not all Moros are bad, not all agree with the radicals and some are quite helpful to the advisors. The plot cautions us however not to take everyone at face value. There are traitors in their midst.
I find the lead (Cooper's) character solutions to winning hearts and minds to be fantastic. The guy could have been a role model for counter insurgency. Perhaps he was the first Green Beret. I won't go into his methods, watch them yourself and then think IRAQ. Of course with 24/7 news cycles and instant communication blended with micro-management it is hard to see this happening today. If we had those things back then, well, the course of history in the Phillipines would have been very different.
All in all, an excellent movie with a great cast highlighting an interesting period of US History that is all but forgotten today. It is interesting to think that people who actually participated in the Phillipine Insurrection were still around when it debuted in 1939.
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