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After losing his bride in a Luftwaffe air raid, bomber pilot Forrester becomes a solitary killing machine, who doesn't care whether he dies. The reckless Canadian pilot is both admired and feared by the rest of his squadron in World War II Burma. The squadron physician is assigned to determine the embittered Bill Forrester's fitness for duty. To break through the nightmare-haunted man's wall of silence, the physician drives Forrester to visit an outpost of English-speaking refugees, which includes an alluring young Burmese woman. Written by
In The Purple Plain Gregory Peck became the latest in a long list of American stars playing Canadians in order to appear natural in a British production. At least Peck did not attempt an English accent as he did in The Paradine Case where he drifted in and out of one during the course of the film.
The Purple Plain is set in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II and Peck is a pilot with the RAF. He's a man who takes reckless chances on missions because he's got nothing to live for, his wife having been killed in the blitz in wartime London.
But a doctor friend, Bernard Lee, decides what Peck needs is a new woman and a new purpose in life. He introduces him to missionary Brenda DaBanzie and also to a lovely Eurasian played by Win Min Than in her one and only film. If The Purple Plain has a glaring weakness it's her, she's beautiful, but can't act.
Peck may have a new outlook on life and a reason to live, but that fact is lost on Maurice Denham his bunkmate and copilot. On a routine mission, Peck, Denham, with new navigator Lyndon Brook crash in the Burmese jungle. Will they all survive as Peck's leadership is put to the test?
If the jungle looks familiar, The Purple Plain was shot in Sri Lanka, Ceylon at the time which was for a brief period, a most popular place for film locations. Around the same time Elephant Walk was done here and later on the acclaimed Bridge on the River Kwai. The Purple Plain is beautifully photographed in that jungle.
The Purple Plain is not as good as The Bridge on the River Kwai, it certainly is much better than Elephant Walk. Peck delivers a stalwart performance and gets able assistance from the rest of the cast with the exception of his leading lady. It's worth a look the next time it is broadcast.
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