MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 15,097 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 94 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

Editors' Spotlight

IMDb Picks: March

IMDb's editors share the movies and TV shows they are excited to see in March.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 239 titles
created 06 Apr 2012
 
a list of 4376 titles
created 15 Jan 2013
 
a list of 211 titles
created 22 Jan 2014
 
a list of 223 titles
created 11 months ago
 
a list of 1361 titles
created 6 months 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... 

'G' Men (1935)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A contrived misunderstanding leads to the breakup of a songwriter and his fiancée. She returns to work as a gym teacher at an all-girls school, but a legal loophole allows the man to enroll as one of her students.

Director: George Sidney
Stars: Red Skelton, Esther Williams, Basil Rathbone
Rose Marie (1954)
Musical | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Tomboy Rose Marie Lemaitre, the orphaned ward of Mountie Mike Malone, falls in love with him, and he with her. But when she goes to "learn to be a lady", she meets outlaw trapper James ... See full summary »

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Ann Blyth, Howard Keel, Fernando Lamas
French Cancan (1954)
Comedy | Musical | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

This comedy drama from Jean Renoir chronicles the revival of Paris' most notorious dance as it tells the story of a theater producer who turns a humble washerwoman into a star at the Moulin Rouge.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Jean Gabin, Françoise Arnoul, María Félix
Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

The devil and the spirit of mankind argue as to whether or not humanity is ultimately good or evil.

Director: Irwin Allen
Stars: Ronald Colman, Hedy Lamarr, Groucho Marx
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Disturbed young man meets a girl he believes to be a long-dead ancestor.

Director: William Conrad
Stars: Troy Donahue, Joey Heatherton, Barry Sullivan
Susan Slade (1961)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Premarital sex, secrets, and society. At 17, shy Susan Slade is on her way to California after a ten-year stay at a remote Chilean mine where her father was chief engineer. Onboard ship, ... See full summary »

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Troy Donahue, Dorothy McGuire, Connie Stevens
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Director: Lesley Selander
Stars: Jan Sterling, Neville Brand, John Doucette
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

West Point graduate Lt.Hazard is posted to Fort Delivery,Arizona,where he has to deal with lax discipline,romantic complications,Apaches and his conflicting feelings toward the Indians.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Troy Donahue, Suzanne Pleshette, Diane McBain
Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A man from Ohio inherits a coconut plantation and falls in love with a half-American, half-Tahitian beauty. Song and swim ensues in the tropical paradise.

Director: Robert Alton
Stars: Esther Williams, Howard Keel, Minna Gombell
Kathleen (1941)
Drama | Romance | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Kathleen is a 12 year old who lives in a big house with a nanny, a butler, maids, no mother and a father who is working most of the time. She dreams of a family with a mother, father and ... See full summary »

Director: Harold S. Bucquet
Stars: Shirley Temple, Herbert Marshall, Laraine Day
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Texans Dave Lovell and Coy Barrett sign a truce to stop the feuding between their families. The Barretts migrate from Texas to Goliath, Oklahoma, a boom town on the border of the Cherokee ... See full summary »

Director: Lesley Selander
Stars: Richard Dix, Florence Rice, William Henry
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:

The startling TRUE story of America's "Mata Hari" of the South Pacific! 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

A soldier plays Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" as Claire and John prepare to be wedded by a Catholic priest. The Catholic Church, as well as most Lutheran churches, avoid this piece of music for wedding entrance-hymns. See more »

Soundtracks

Because of You
Music by Dudley Wilkinson
Lyrics by Arthur Hammerstein
Sung by Ann Dvorak
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.


1 of 1 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:
?