MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 11,995 this week

I Was an American Spy (1951)

 -  Biography | Drama | War  -  14 April 1951 (USA)
6.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.8/10 from 91 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

Begins in documentary style when U. S. Army General Mark Clark authenticates Claire Phillips' adventures and achievements, as an American citizen who rendered invaluable services to her ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (magazine article "I Was an American Spy"), 2 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 239 titles
created 06 Apr 2012
 
a list of 4281 titles
created 15 Jan 2013
 
a list of 141 titles
created 6 months ago
 
a list of 103 titles
created 2 months ago
 
a list of 549 titles
created 1 month ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: I Was an American Spy (1951)

I Was an American Spy (1951) on IMDb 6.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of I Was an American Spy.
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Sweet Adeline (1934)
Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

In 1898, composer Sid Barnett manages to get his sweetheart, Adeline the beer-garden singer, to sing the lead in his new Broadway operetta; this infuriates Elysia, the erstwhile star. But ... See full summary »

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Irene Dunne, Donald Woods, Hugh Herbert
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Set in an apartment building whose occupants include Arthur Earthleigh, a meek and mild type married to the beautiful-but-domineering Mae; a Bohemian artist, David Galleo and his ... See full summary »

Director: Leigh Jason
Stars: George Brent, Virginia Mayo, Turhan Bey
Caged (1950)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A naive nineteen year old widow becomes coarsened and cynical when she is sent to a woman's prison and is exposed to hardened criminals and sadistic guards.

Director: John Cromwell
Stars: Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby
Blind Alley (1939)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Gangster Hal Wilson takes psychiatrist Dr. Shelby hostage. While captive, the doctor analyzes Wilson as though he were a patient.

Director: Charles Vidor
Stars: Chester Morris, Ralph Bellamy, Ann Dvorak
Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Danforth is assigned to take over the police department in a section of a large city saddled with juvenile delinquency, petty crimes, graft and also a recent unsolved murder of a ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph M. Newman
Stars: Gary Merrill, Jan Sterling, Regis Toomey
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. But she begins to have doubts...

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Pupils run amok at Maudlin Street School in an attempt to hang on to their headmaster. He has applied for a new job, but the students like him and don't want to lose him. They concoct a ... See full summary »

Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Kenneth Williams, Leslie Phillips, Kenneth Connor
Dr. Socrates (1935)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A small-town doctor gets roped into helping a notorious bank robber.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Barton MacLane
Comedy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

"Murder-on-the-train" mystery has lawyer Malone chasing his paroled embezzler client (Kepplar) who still hasn't paid Malone's fee. When Kepplar jumps parole on a train to Chicago, Malone ... See full summary »

Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Marjorie Main, James Whitmore, Ann Dvorak
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
...
Mrs. Claire 'High Pockets' Phillips
Gene Evans ...
Cpl. John Boone
Douglas Kennedy ...
Sgt. John Phillips
Richard Loo ...
Col. Masamato
Leon Lontoc ...
Pacio
Chabing ...
Lolita
Philip Ahn ...
Capt. Arito
Marya Marco ...
Fely
Nadine Ashdown ...
Dian
Lisa Ferraday ...
Dorothy Fuentes
Howard Chuman ...
Kamuri
Fred Revelala ...
Zig Zag (as Freddie Revelala)
James B. Leong ...
Ho Sang
Mark W. Clark ...
Himself / Authenticator in Prologue (as General Mark Clark)
Edit

Storyline

Begins in documentary style when U. S. Army General Mark Clark authenticates Claire Phillips' adventures and achievements, as an American citizen who rendered invaluable services to her country in Manila during the Japanese occupation, and at the end, when she is presented a medal by a Presidential representative: Claire Phillips, a café entertainer in Manila, marries a U.S. soldier on December 8, 1941, after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, and when he is killed fighting the Japanese invasion of the Phillipines, she returns to her calling as a means of obtaining and transmitting to the American and Filipino guerillas information, supplies and services which the Filipino underground uses in its aid to the Allied forces fighting the Japanese invaders. She has narrow escapes from detection and detention, until she is finally exposed as a spy, arrested, convicted and imprisoned. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

TENSE! TRUE! FROM THE "READER'S DIGEST" SENSATION THAT SHOCKED A NATION! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 April 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ich war eine amerikanische Spionin  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Mrs. Claire Phillips' (Ann Dvorak) code-name was 'High Pockets'. See more »

Soundtracks

Bridal Chorus
(from the 1850 opera "Lohengrin")
Written by Richard Wagner
[Played on harmonica by soldier at wedding in jungle]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Heroes of Philippine espionage – who was Claire Phillips?
5 August 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Based on real events, "I Was an American Spy" is several stories in one of valor and heroism. It is a unique film that includes spying, underground resistance, sabotage, and help for escapees and prisoners. It's a story about one of America's most successful volunteer spies in WWII – a rare example of Allied espionage in the Pacific theater. And, it is one of the best films about resistance to the Japanese by Philippine men and women.

Many books have been written and films made about spying and underground resistance to the Nazis in Europe. But very few such examples exist with the Japanese in WW II. So, this film has added historical value as well.

Others have commented on the movie plot, but I'll share some of the information I got when I tried to find out more about the all but forgotten hero of this film. Claire Phillips (nee, Snyder) was born in Michigan in 1908, but grew up in Portland, OR, where she graduated from high school. She joined a circus for a time, was a nightclub singer and was drawn to the theater. She joined a troupe that went to the Orient to play major cities. She landed in Manila for a few years where she married a Filipino and had a daughter, Dian. After five years, she divorced and returned to her home in Portland with her daughter. She became bored after several months and returned with Dian to Manila. That was in the fall of 1941. She married an American Army sergeant, John Phillips, during the Japanese invasion in December.

The movie is about her life during that time until the end of the war. After the war, she and her daughter returned to Portland where she lived for the rest of her life. She received many honors and recognitions at home. Articles were written about her and she appeared on radio programs (TV wasn't widely available until after 1950). She received a free deed and keys to a new home in Beaverton, OR.

In 1947, she wrote a book, "Manila Espionage," about her life and exploits during the war. This 1951 movie was based on her book and a magazine article. In 1951, she received the Medal of Freedom from the U.S. – the only woman who was honored based on the recommendation of General Douglas MacArthur. While some 200 total awards of the Medal of Freedom were made for WWII and Korea, most of those were to people from other nations for their heroics in helping Americans.

But after a few years in the limelight, Phillips became restless and dissatisfied with working in a department store. She married again, and divorced. She became a heavy drinker and within nine years after the movie came out, Claire Phillips died of meningitis. She was 52.

There was some interest in Portland in 2011 in providing a permanent memorial to this WWII hero. One can wonder why that wasn't done in the past. While her heroic efforts during the war have been honored, could there be other things about her life that most citizens would not want to hold up for people to model? My guess is that the answer is "Yes!" based on articles available online, and considerable changes or glossing over in the movie.

For instance, magazine and newspaper accounts refer to Phillips as the "Manila Mata Hari." Yet, the movie shows her as a proper woman who runs a respectable club. In reality, her Tsubaki Club, was a high-priced, high class nightclub and brothel. Articles describe the girls and the matron performing for their high-ranking Japanese clients. Also, in the late 1950s, Phillips sued the U.S. government for $146,850 in compensation for her work. She received just $1,349 and the U.S. Claims Court decision read, "Much of her story was greatly exaggerated and at times almost fanciful."

"I Was an American Spy" has one big fault – what seems to be a clear Hollywood altering of the story that detracts from the film. In several early scenes, Phillips tries to follow and find her husband who had to report to his unit on the front lines. Her character, played by Ann Dvorak, is almost hysterical when she insists she wants to go with him. In real life, Phillips had been around the American forces for years at Manila. She would have known that families don't go off to war with the troops. Common sense tells most of us that. And Phillips was not such a naive person as that.

So, why would Hollywood alter her story to put this tripe in it? My guess is to paint a picture of the heroin precisely as a naive, innocent and clean person before the start of the war. That would also explain how the movie then accounts for her change of character – to someone who could kill and spy on the Japanese herself. We see a fictional scene in which she watches the Bataan death march and sees her husband shot and killed for stopping to drink from a well. After crying over her husband's body, she picks up a gun and shoots several times killing a very elderly Japanese soldier who came out of nowhere – with his rifle slung over his shoulder. Totally unbelievable!

This film could have scored a 10 if the film makers had cut most of the opening hide-and-go-seek scenes, and instead replaced them with more scenes of the real underground help and resistance efforts. That would also have shown more of the deserving honor of the Filipinos, several of whom worked for Phillips.


0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Any copies of 'I was an American Spy'? randallking-1
Seeking biographical information on Claire Phillips Rik-19
I was an American Spy rhaltenhoff
i was an american spy geegeesusie
DVD now available directly from Warner's webpage! simonhowson
Discuss I Was an American Spy (1951) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?