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The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944)

As the Japanese sweep through the East Indies during World War II, Dr. Wassell is determined to escape from Java with some crewmen of the cruiser Marblehead. Based on a true story of how Dr... See full summary »

Director:

Cecil B. DeMille

Writers:

Alan Le May (screenplay) (as Alan LeMay), Charles Bennett (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gary Cooper ... Dr. Corydon M. Wassell
Laraine Day ... Madeleine
Signe Hasso ... Bettina
Dennis O'Keefe ... Benjamin 'Hoppy' Hopkins
Carol Thurston ... Tremartini (Three Martini)
Carl Esmond ... Lt. Dirk Van Daal
Paul Kelly ... Murdock
Elliott Reid ... William 'Andy' Anderson
Stanley Ridges ... Cmdr. William B. 'Bill' Goggins
Renny McEvoy ... Johnny Leeweather
Oliver Thorndike Oliver Thorndike ... Alabam
Philip Ahn ... Ping
Barbara Britton ... Ruth
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Storyline

As the Japanese sweep through the East Indies during World War II, Dr. Wassell is determined to escape from Java with some crewmen of the cruiser Marblehead. Based on a true story of how Dr. Wassell saved a dozen or so wounded sailors who were left behind when able bodied men were evacuated to Australia. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Drama of Loyalty and Love! The Story the Whole World Has Heard About!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 July 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cecil B. DeMille's The Story of Dr. Wassell See more »

Filming Locations:

Metapa, Chiapas, Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,720,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the true story of U.S. Navy physician Corydon McAlmont Wassell (1884-1958). He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on Java and is buried at Arlington National Cemetary. See more »

Goofs

When Dr. Wassell is standing on the back of the hospital train early in the film, in the background a boxcar from the Mexican state railway - marked "N de M" - is visible. Several locations in Mexico were used as a stand-in for Java, as the island would be occupied by Japanese forces until the end of the war in 1945. See more »

Quotes

Dutch Army Captain: An air raid, Doctor. There's no cause for panic. You all know the rules. Convalescent patients to the shelter. All others are to be placed beneath their cots, Doctor.
Dr. Corydon M. Wassell: Yes, sir.
Dutch Army Captain: Walking wounded, follow me please.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
DeMille World War II story of real-life Doctor
12 March 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Gary Cooper has the title role in "The Story of Dr. Wassell," a fact-based 1944 film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and also starring Laraine Day, Dennis O'Keefe, Signe Hasso, and Elliott Reid. During World War II, a naval doctor tries to evacuate soldiers from the East Indies as the Japanese are approaching. He insists upon taking the wounded on a transport ship, the Pecos, even though it is against orders. In the end, he is not able to do it. Wassell stays with his soldiers, all of whom assume they will die on Java. But the doctor won't give up. Along the way, we learn of his life in China and the woman (Day) that he loved.

"The Story of Dr. Wassell" is a little long and gets off to a slow start, but holds up thanks to Gary Cooper and the audience's involvement with some of the well-drawn supporting characters. By the time the movie is over, you feel like you've been in the war with them. I'm not sure if that's due to the length of the film or what the soldiers went through.

Cooper was about 43 years old when this film was made, yet he still retained that boyish smile of his. I've never figured out if he was a great actor or not; he was so outrageously handsome, I just can't stop staring at him. He didn't have James Stewart's range, Bogart's timing or Wayne's biting voice, but there was something very solid about him, as well as virile, likable, and magnetic. He also has a no-nonsense way of portraying a character, kind of cutting to the chase, and his performance really carries this film. Laraine Day doesn't have a very big role - in fact, she's wasted. The movie does provide a showy role for Dennis O'Keefe (who replaced Alan Ladd) and Signe Hasso, a very good actress often relegated to B films. O'Keefe plays a wounded soldier named Hoppy - and if you see this film, don't turn it off when you see "The End" because Mr. DeMille actually has an update about him.

The script could have been tighter, but "The Story of Dr. Wassell" is good entertainment, maybe a little dated, but nevertheless the story of a real-life hero who deservedly won the Purple Heart.


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