The true story of Agnes Newton Keith's imprisonment in several Japanese prisoner-of-war camps from 1941 to the end of WWII. Separated from her husband and with a young son to care for she ... See full summary »
Two American GIs are the only survivors of a unit wiped out in a battle with Japanese troops on an isolated island. The two, who don't like each other, find try to put aside their differences in order to evade the Japanese and survive.
Brillant pianist Larry Addams allows his frustrated ambitions to ruin his life and commits suicide, leaving his wife, Lee, and two small children, Penny and Chase, under the stigma of ... See full summary »
Robert Z. Leonard
When an American attack on the German-held town of San Corrado results in the Germans being forced out of the town, they don't have time to take along a top Italian partisan leader they ... See full summary »
The true story of Agnes Newton Keith's imprisonment in several Japanese prisoner-of-war camps from 1941 to the end of WWII. Separated from her husband and with a young son to care for she has many difficulties to face. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A 'Life' magazine article in 20 March 1950 states that there is more of a sympathetic portrayal in this film of the Colonel Suga (Sessue Hayakawa) character than compared with his depiction in the source memoir by Agnes Newton Keith. The article states that Suga saved Keith's husband Harry and was kind-hearted to their children. Paradoxically though, Agnes Newton Keith also hated Suga for the starvation, torture and degradation that he inflicted in the prisoner-of-war camp. See more »
Colonel Suga says he attended the University of Washington for four years and Agnes reveals that she attended Berkeley. Suga goes on to say that Cal "murdered" Washington's football team. However, Tatsugi Suga arrived at Washington in 1924 and during the next four seasons California never defeated Washington. Only one football game would fit Suga's description: a 33-0 loss in 1933. See more »
Agnes Newton Keith:
Six-degrees north of the Equator, in the heart of the East Indies, lies Sandakan, the tiny capital of British North Borneo. In Sandakan in 1941, there were 15 thousand Asiatics, 79 Europeans, and 1 American. I was the American. My name is Agnes Keith. I was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. My husband is Harry Keith, a colonial official of British North Borneo. Borneo became my home when Harry and I were married. And it was in ...
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I came upon this film by accident Sunday afternoon as I channel surfed by a PBS station. I expected to laugh at it for a few minutes and then shut off its caricature of noble Brits and Yanks resisting their evil Asian captors. For the black and white glow from the screen prejudiced me to anticipate yet another farcical exemplar of Edward Said's "Orientalism" transposed for the land of the rising sun.
So, unlike the first commentator on this film, I was actually pleased by the balance in its presentation. For although these days of Ozzie and Harriet rarely projected overt brutality realistically onto the screen, this film does provide a palpable sense of the suffering endured by European prisoners of war. At the same time, it did not end on this note: one of the more powerful Japanese camp directors suffers a loss in his family due to the Hiroshima bombing. And it is this counterbalance later in the film which I think causes me to disagree with the first commentator's view that this is something of a propaganda film.
Several things about this film stand out to me as justly bold for that era of film-making:
*an attempted rape is portrayed as well as a realistic presentation of its consequences. Accordingly, a complex moral lesson is imparted to the audience: far more complex, I might add, than the lessons Hollywood chooses to impart in many contemporary films with respect to such events. Perhaps this is simply an accident of the narrative being based on true events.
*the main character is a woman who is educated, brave and yet sympathizes with Asian culture (she is a scholar who has published an anthropological study which had been translated into Japanese) even if she vehemently opposes Japan's aggression.
*Hiroshima and the firebombings of Tokyo are presented from the Japanese viewpoint as horrific events and their effect in this movie is to engender sympathy for the ambiguous figure of the camp commander.
Of course this is still a Hollywood movie of the 50s and some of the behavior seems stilted and implausible to contemporary audiences. But compared to some other films made then - or even today - it is a breath of fresh air. I never expected to watch this whole film but was quite happy I did. I highly recommend it to others (which is why I bothered to write this!) as a date movie (in spite of the subject matter the strong female character and love story recommend it here) or a film to show children over ten (get a map so the child can locate Borneo) to introduce them to the many moral and political questions arising out of the war in the Pacific. Enjoy!
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