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When Hell Was in Session (1979)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  8 October 1979 (USA)
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This film describes Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton's 7 and a half years as a prisoner of war. Held in numerous, brutal POW camps, he faced starvation, torture and terrible living conditions... See full summary »



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Title: When Hell Was in Session (TV Movie 1979)

When Hell Was in Session (TV Movie 1979) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Cmdr. Jeremiah A. Denton
Jane Denton
Maj. Bai
Maj. Frank Perrin
Renne Jarrett ...
Nancy Tschudy
Richard Evans ...
Lt. Alec Vardis
Lt. Jim Norton
Lt. Bill Grainger (as Stephen Keep)
Byron Chung ...
William Kirby Cullen ...
Jerry Denton
Paul Mantee ...
Capt. Brown
Rod Browning ...
Ed Brandt
T.V. Host
Ric Carrott ...
Lt. Hadley


This film describes Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton's 7 and a half years as a prisoner of war. Held in numerous, brutal POW camps, he faced starvation, torture and terrible living conditions brought on by his North Vietnamese captors in an effort to keep communication alive between the prisoners. His wife, Jane, is also arranging a POW wives league in the U.S. in order to popularize their plight. Written by mike407

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

8 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuando el infierno abrió sus puertas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

a harrowing tale of a true American hero!
10 October 2003 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

I am a Sergeant in the United States Army and I write to celebrities as a hobby. I am very proud to say that I have gotten two letters from Retired Rear Admiral Jeremiah Denton, a true American hero. Denton attended the US Naval Academy in Jimmy Carter's class of 1946 and from then until 1965, he built a brilliant career as a US Naval Officer. He was shot down over North Vietnam on June 18, 1965 and was a prisoner of war until February of 1973, seven and a half years of hell. They did everything to him except kill him. At one point, Admiral Denton was kept in a tiny isolation cell for over three and a half years. He and his fellow POWs are our greatest national treasure. They are men made more of steel then flesh. Hal Holbrook is an amazing actor (you only have to watch him playing Mark Twain to realize this simple fact!). He brings this quality to the role of Admiral Denton. He makes you feel this man's pain but also his courage, bravery and determination as the one prisoner of war that the North Vietnemese could not break no matter what. In fact, Admiral Denton performed a heroic act I wanted to mention. The Viet Cong tortured him horribly until he agreed to make a propaganda statement for them. While he was reading this statement, he blinked his eyes in Morse code to form out the words TORTURE. He told the US authorities about the horror that the POWs were made to endure, this amazing act earned him the Navy Cross when he was released. A word to the squemish, this movie is hard to watch especially during the torture scenes, but every American needs to hear Admiral Denton's incredible story. You will be much the better for it.

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