7.4/10
1,448
39 user 13 critic

Three Came Home (1950)

Not Rated | | Drama , War | 20 February 1950 (USA)
During Word War II, American author Agnes Newton Keith is imprisoned by the Japanese in various POW camps in North Borneo and Sarawak.

Director:

Jean Negulesco

Writers:

Nunnally Johnson (screenplay), Agnes Newton Keith (book)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Claudette Colbert ... Agnes Newton Keith
Patric Knowles ... Harry Keith
Florence Desmond ... Betty Sommers
Sessue Hayakawa ... Colonel Suga
Sylvia Andrew Sylvia Andrew ... Henrietta
Mark Keuning Mark Keuning ... George Keith
Phyllis Morris Phyllis Morris ... Sister Rose
Howard Chuman Howard Chuman ... Lieutenant Nekata
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Storyline

The true story of Agnes Newton Keith's imprisonment in several Japanese prisoner-of-war camps from 1941 to the end of WWII. Separated from her husband and with a young son to care for she has many difficulties to face. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of one woman's confinement in a WW II Japanese prison camp

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

20 February 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Captives à Bornéo See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,900,000, 31 December 1950
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

'The Los Angeles Times' in October 1948 announced that Olivia de Havilland would be playing Agnes Newton Keith in this movie but the lead part eventually went to Claudette Colbert. See more »

Goofs

Colonel Suga says he attended the University of Washington for four years and Agnes reveals that she attended Berkeley. Suga goes on to say that Cal "murdered" Washington's football team. However, Tatsugi Suga arrived at Washington in 1924 and during the next four seasons California never defeated Washington. Only one football game would fit Suga's description: a 33-0 loss in 1933. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Agnes Newton Keith: Six-degrees north of the Equator, in the heart of the East Indies, lies Sandakan, the tiny capital of British North Borneo. In Sandakan in 1941, there were 15 thousand Asiatics, 79 Europeans, and 1 American. I was the American. My name is Agnes Keith. I was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. My husband is Harry Keith, a colonial official of British North Borneo. Borneo became my home when Harry and I were married. And it was in ...
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Connections

Featured in The Slanted Screen (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

They'll Be Coming up the River
(uncredited)
to the melody of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain"
Traditional
Sung by the women in the camp
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User Reviews

 
Surprisingly good film
30 May 2000 | by meisenstSee all my reviews

I came upon this film by accident Sunday afternoon as I channel surfed by a PBS station. I expected to laugh at it for a few minutes and then shut off its caricature of noble Brits and Yanks resisting their evil Asian captors. For the black and white glow from the screen prejudiced me to anticipate yet another farcical exemplar of Edward Said's "Orientalism" transposed for the land of the rising sun.

So, unlike the first commentator on this film, I was actually pleased by the balance in its presentation. For although these days of Ozzie and Harriet rarely projected overt brutality realistically onto the screen, this film does provide a palpable sense of the suffering endured by European prisoners of war. At the same time, it did not end on this note: one of the more powerful Japanese camp directors suffers a loss in his family due to the Hiroshima bombing. And it is this counterbalance later in the film which I think causes me to disagree with the first commentator's view that this is something of a propaganda film.

Several things about this film stand out to me as justly bold for that era of film-making:

*an attempted rape is portrayed as well as a realistic presentation of its consequences. Accordingly, a complex moral lesson is imparted to the audience: far more complex, I might add, than the lessons Hollywood chooses to impart in many contemporary films with respect to such events. Perhaps this is simply an accident of the narrative being based on true events.

*the main character is a woman who is educated, brave and yet sympathizes with Asian culture (she is a scholar who has published an anthropological study which had been translated into Japanese) even if she vehemently opposes Japan's aggression.

*Hiroshima and the firebombings of Tokyo are presented from the Japanese viewpoint as horrific events and their effect in this movie is to engender sympathy for the ambiguous figure of the camp commander.

Of course this is still a Hollywood movie of the 50s and some of the behavior seems stilted and implausible to contemporary audiences. But compared to some other films made then - or even today - it is a breath of fresh air. I never expected to watch this whole film but was quite happy I did. I highly recommend it to others (which is why I bothered to write this!) as a date movie (in spite of the subject matter the strong female character and love story recommend it here) or a film to show children over ten (get a map so the child can locate Borneo) to introduce them to the many moral and political questions arising out of the war in the Pacific. Enjoy!


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