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Back to Bataan (1945)

Approved | | Drama, War | 31 May 1945 (USA)
In 1942, after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese, U.S. Army Col. Joseph Madden stays behind to organize the local resistance against the Japanese invaders.

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Writers:

Ben Barzman (screenplay), Richard H. Landau (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Wayne ... Col. Joseph Madden
Anthony Quinn ... Capt. Andrés Bonifácio
Beulah Bondi ... Bertha Barnes
Fely Franquelli ... Dalisay Delgado
Richard Loo ... Maj. Hasko
Philip Ahn ... Col. Coroki
Alex Havier Alex Havier ... Sgt. Bernessa (as J. Alex Havier)
'Ducky' Louie 'Ducky' Louie ... Maximo Cuenca
Lawrence Tierney ... Lt. Cmdr. Waite
Leonard Strong ... Gen. Homma
Paul Fix ... Bindle Jackson
Abner Biberman ... Japanese Captain
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Señor Buenaventura J. Bello
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Storyline

The US Army's defense of its Philippines colony and the allied Malay countries/colonies behind it counted on its island fortress of Corregidor on Luzon -and a few others- but loses it in the 6 May 1942 Japanese combined forces attack. Colonel Joseph Madden is among the escaping survivors who are ordered by general Douglas McArthur to organize a guerrilla. As he finds many native Filipinos inclined to resist the occupier's vision of returning to the South Asian fold under a paternalistic empire which doesn't hesitate to 'spank the unruly', but is mainly civilian, unprepared, inept in military matters, Madden appeals to the legendary anti-US freedom fighter Andres Bonifácio's homonymous grandson Captain Andrés Bonifácio, who is luckily rescued from a POW dead march, to inspire the resistance -once his own fighting spirit is rekindled- with him in a still very unsure war, retaliated by bloody, ten to one repression. When the Japanese realize the people side against them, they stage fake ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

SEE! American landings on Leyte! Cabanatuan prisoners freed in spectacular Yankee raid! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 May 1945 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Invisible Army See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,490,000, 31 December 1945
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

"Back to Bataan" was a hit for RKO, grossing $2.5 million at the box office. See more »

Goofs

When the Australian radio officer types the message he's receiving from the Phillippines, he spells the word "organization" using the American spelling, with a "z". An Australian would use the British spelling - "organisation", with an "s" - although, it is possible he simply wrote "z" because he was quickly transcribing the Morse Code signal sent by the Americans. See more »

Quotes

Maximo Cuenca: [a poor student dying in his teacher's arms after heroic action] Miss Barnes, I'm sorry I never learned how to spell "liberty".
[dies]
Bertha Barnes: [tearfully] No one ever learned it so well.
See more »

Crazy Credits

8 minutes into the film: "Americans had been freed- hundreds of them. This was a promise of what was to come. Soon the whole world would be free. But behind the rescue of these men, behind the triumphs yet to come, there is another story- the story of the resistance of the Filipino people. This is the story of that resistance. It begins in one of the darkest hours in our history on the island fortress of Corregidor." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Trumbo (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

 
At the appropriate moment you shall yell Banzai, with enthusiasm, three times!
29 May 2006 | by solSee all my reviews

The film "Back to Battan" starts and ends with the January 30, 1945 US/Filipino raid on the infamous Cabanatuan Japanese prison camp on Luzon Island as the allied troops rout the Japanese defenders, that number some 2,000 to 5,000 men, at the cost of only 4 killed and 21 wounded with not even a single US/Filipino POW being lost in the battle. The movie then goes back some three years to the spring of 1942 during the darkest days of the Japanese advance on Battan. US Col. Madden, John Wayne, and his men are fighting for their lives holding back wave after wave of suicidal Japanese Banzai attacks as the lights slowly go out for the American and Philippine forces. With the US general in command of the Philippines Douglas MacArthur being called back to Australia to regroup the battered and defeated US Army for another shot at the invincible army navy and air force of the Empire of Japan things look very bleak for the American and Filipino troops still left on the islands.

The film almost entirely concentrates on the guerrilla war conducted by Col. Joe Madden and Capt. Andres Bonifacio (Anthony Quinn), the grandson of the late 19th and early 20th century Filipino patriot and freedom fighter Andres Bonifacio the first. The guerrilla war lasted for two and a half years made it possible for the successful allied invasion of Latye in the fall of 1944. There's also Anders' girlfriend pretty Filipino radio personality Dolici Dalgado, Fely Franquelli, who's the Tokyo Rose of Minlia. Dolici is mouthing off on the radio Japanese propaganda to the Philippine people but in reality is working for US, which her boyfriend Andres who's totally unaware of it. Dolici puts secret code words into her commentaries to alert the US and allied, Philippine, troops where the Japanese Army is making it's next move.

One of the better WWII Hollywood war movies with John Wayne needing help from the locals and also being berated and pushed around by who I at first thought was the leader of the allied troops on the Islands,she sure as hell acted like she was, history teacher Bertha Barnes, Beulah Bondi. There's also a number of really exciting battle sequences between the US/Filipino troops and Japanese forces that didn't come across phony and overly one-sided, like in the battles of Battan and the Island fortress of Corrigidor,where the "Japs" actually won, like in most WWII movies coming out of Hollywood at that time.

There were two scenes in the movie "Back to Battan" that really moved me and that had very little to do with any fighting. The first when high school Principle J. Bello, Vladimir Sokoloff, refuses to pull down the American flag on the orders of Japanese officer Captain Abner Biberman and then was hanged in it's place. The second scene was when 15 year-old Philippine high-school student Maximo Cuerca, Duckie Louie, was forced to betray, after being tortured by the Japanese, his fellow freedom fighters and American allies. Maximo gave up his life taking the lives of his Japanese tormentors with him by forcing the truck he was on, by grabbing the steering wheel, to go off an embankment killing everyone on board in order to warn Col. Madden's men that they were soon to be ambushed.

The real heavy fighting was saved for last with the return to the Philippines of the American forces under the leadership of "I Shall Return" General Douglas MacArthur in the invasion and battle of Latye Gulf in October 1944. The invasion that culminated, in the movie, with the liberation of the Cabantuan POW Prison Camp in late January of 1945. We see, as the movie ends, a number of actual US POW's not actors in the film from some half dozen different states, Texas Alabama Kansas Tennessee Illinois and even Brooklyn New York. All these POW's who were just liberated are seen ecstatically marching to the trumping and heart-lifting tune of "California Here I Come".


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