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So Proudly We Hail! (1943) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A group of U.S. Army nurses leaves San Francisco for their tour of duty in Hawaii in December 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor changes their destination, and their lives. Sent to Bataan, in the Philippines, the nurses are led by Lt. Janet Davidson. She is faced with untested nurses who expected an easy time in Honolulu, but who quickly become battle-weary veterans dealing with daily bombardments by the Japanese, overwhelmed by the numbers of wounded, and dwindling supplies. Some of "Davey's" unit also have to deal with romantic entanglements with men they met onboard ship. When Bataan falls, the American forces flee to the offshore island of Corregidor, where they find the Japanese assault just as intense.

  • The story of eight wartime nurses who served in the Pacific. They all joined prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor and were on their way there by ship when it occurred. After spending a good deal of time at sea, they finally arrive in the Philippines. Conditions are difficult at the best of times but they work hard and are much appreciated. The nurse's senior officer Lt. Janet 'Davy' Davidson meets Lt. John Summers and falls in love. Olivia D'Arcy lost her husband-to-be at Pearl Harbor and only wants revenge. As the situation deteriorates, the hospital is relocated to Bataan and then to Corregidor. Evacuation eventually comes but not everyone will have survived their time in the Pacific.

  • On May 5th, 1942, eight US army nurses arrive at an army base in Melbourne, Australia following a mandatory evacuation from Corregidor. They are deemed heroines by their military comrades for their war deeds. Among the eight is the superior officer, Lt. Janet Davidson - Davy to most that know her - who is in a half comatose state from emotional trauma. Authorities want to know her story to get her out of that state. The other seven relay that story. Most of the company met in November 1941 when they were being shipped from San Francisco to their first posting in the Pacific. The group included straightforward Davy, Lt. Joan O'Doul who admits to having trouble saying no to men, and Lt. Olivia D'Arcy, a sullen and angry woman who they picked up en route due to unforeseen circumstances. On board their ship, romance ensued for both Davy and Joan. With changing conditions in the Pacific, they were eventually stationed in Bataan under the command of General MacArthur, the allied forces there who were under heavy attack by the Japanese. The large company of nurses tried to do work in their mobile hospital under difficult and trying conditions, which was made all the more difficult by the Japanese who cut off supply routes to the area. Through these difficulties, Olivia eventually opened up about her anger, while Joan and especially Davy continued with their new found relationships, Davy in the hopes that they would survive the war so that it could continue after all was said and done. The Japanese threw up many roadblocks in Davy reaching this ultimate goal.

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  • A group of nurses returning from the war in the Phillippines recall their experiences in combat and in love.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • In 1942, an Army plane brings eight nurses from the Philippines to Australia. They are the only female survivors from the hard-hit Army base in Corregidor,and are put aboard a ship to the US. Their leader, Lt. Janet 'Davy' Davidson (Claudette Colbert), does not speak, and the doctor on board asks the nurses to tell their story so he can try to help her.

    In 1941, these peacetime army nurses were traveling to Hawaii for their assignment. After Pearl Harbor they are diverted to meet a convoy of ships. When one ship is torpedoed, they pick up survivors. Cold Lt. Olivia D'Arcy (Veronica Lake) is added to the nurse group, but is downright hostile. Finally she divulges that her fiancé died at Pearl Harbor, she tried and failed to kill herself, and now she just wants the Japanese dead.

    Lt. Joan O'Doul (Paulette Goddard) begins a flirtation with Kansas (Sonny Tufts) but refuses to get too involved. Lt. John Summers (George Reeves) and Davy keep running into each other aboard ship, clicking in a more understated way.

    The nurses are assigned to a hospital in Bataan, under overworked head nurse Capt. 'Ma' McGregor (Mary Servoss). When Davy finds out that Olivia was assigned to care for the Japanese prisoners, she rushes there, but finds that Olivia could not bring herself to harm them.

    Due to the approach of the enemy, the camp is evacuated. At the last moment Joan rushes back to get her beloved black nightgown, delaying the nurses departure and killing their escorts. The Japanese are so close that escape seems impossible, so Olivia grabs a grenade and steps grimly toward them. When she pulls the pin, sacrificing her life and killing the enemy, the nurses are able to escape.

    Their next hospital is little more than beds in a jungle, caring for thousands of wounded men. Malaria and dysentery are rampant and supplies are scarce. Everyone is stunned when they learn that General Douglas MacArthur has left the island and that the supply convoy was sunk.

    After moving to another base, Davy realizes that Joan has been overworking to try to compensate for the loss of Olivia. The Japanese bombard the hospital, killing and wounding many. Orders are received to evacuate Bataan, and everyone crowds the roads heading for the harbor at Marivèles. Everything that floats is used to escape to the island of Corregidor.

    In the tunnels of Corregidor, constant air raids and no supplies increase the pressure on the nurses. Desperation for supplies finally forces the assembly of a small group of men who will try to reach Mindanao. John is one of the volunteers, but he and Davy decide to marry before he goes. After his departure, secret orders are given to evacuate the nurses simply to prevent them being captured: it is obvious that Corregidor will be lost. Davy does not want to leave because she fears for John. Word comes that the volunteer mission failed, and Davy goes into speechless shock.

    The nurses finish telling the whole story to the doctor. He locates a letter from John, written during his mission and given to someone before pressing on. It includes the deed to his farm in American. At the time of writing he was safe, and hopes to meet her there after the war. However, he also states that even if he doesn't survive, the effort of fighting the war is worth his sacrifice, for the freedom of the United States. Hearing his words, Davy is roused from her catatonia and speaks. She lifts her face and smiles.

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