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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.


Jean Negulesco


Nunnally Johnson (screen play), Agnes Newton Keith (book)
1 win. See more awards »




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


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


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


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


A second unit of four men filmed for four weeks in Borneo starting from the Spring of 1949. They shot background plates, establishing shots, background footage and scenic shots under the direction of cinematographer Charles G. Clarke. Clarke has said that authoress Agnes Newton Keith (whose book this film was based on) provided accommodation for two of the crew. Keith made a cameo in the film and participated in the Borneo shoot. See more »


The Ford Prefect shown in one of the opening scenes is a postwar model. See more »


[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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Referenced in Paradise Road (1997) See more »


God Save the King
Lyrics attributed to Henry Carey
Sung by the women in the camp
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User Reviews

Why this film is not "good for being made in 1950," and why it is.
1 August 2009 | by Irie212See all my reviews

"Three Came Home" would be worth seeing for the actual-location footage of Borneo alone, but its qualities only begin there. This is a powerful, praiseworthy movie, and the very reason for its power is -- well, I'd suggest it's something that many fellow IMDb reviewers underestimate: the era it was made.

Several reviewers wrote a fairly common remark, especially about black-and-white pictures, in these forums: that this film is "surprisingly good" or "good for its time period." Let's take that idea to its logical conclusion. Was King Lear "good for 1606"? Was Mozart's Requiem "good for 1701"? Are Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon "good for 1942"?

No. All ages produce masterpieces as well as plenty of popular entertainments. 1950 had Ozzie & Harriet, but it also delivered All About Eve, The Third Man, Rashomon, and this film. The unfortunate truth is, many people believe that any outstanding work of art that preceded their generation is "surprising."

But I rush to add that indeed there was something different fifty years ago, not surprising, but important: Filmmakers showed restraint. Though it is about war, "Three Came Home" generates emotional power with very little staged brutality. There's more carnage in 7 seconds of "Se7en" than in the whole of this war film. Consider: Although it is brief and entirely bloodless, the scene where Claudette Colbert is tortured is almost unbearable.

But the greatest strength of this film is its fairness. Although all the brutality is perpetrated by the Japanese occupiers, they aren't villains. We come to respect the colonel played by the magnificent Sessue Hayakawa. In fact, when his character talks about his son's death at home-- and then says it happened at Hiroshima — it's another breathtakingly powerful moment, and our sympathy is immediately with him. As Colbert's character says to him, "Whatever the rest is, there's no difference in our hearts about our children."

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English | Japanese

Release Date:

20 February 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Came Home See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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