11 user 6 critic

I Was an American Spy (1951)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, War | 14 April 1951 (USA)
During WW2, an American woman posing as an Italian cabaret owner spies on the Japanese in Manila but becomes the target of a suspicious Japanese intelligence officer.


Lesley Selander


Samuel Roeca (screenplay) (as Sam Roeca), Claire Phillips (story) | 3 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Ann Dvorak ... Claire Phillips
Gene Evans ... Cpl. John Boone
Douglas Kennedy ... Sgt. John Phillips
Richard Loo ... Col. Masamato
Leon Lontoc ... Pacio
Dimples Cooper Dimples Cooper ... Lolita (as Chabing)
Philip Ahn ... Capt. Arito
Marya Marco Marya Marco ... Fely
Nadine Ashdown Nadine Ashdown ... Dian
Lisa Ferraday ... Dorothy Fuentes
Howard Chuman Howard Chuman ... Kamuri
Fred Revelala Fred Revelala ... Zig Zag (as Freddie Revelala)
Mark W. Clark ... Self - Authenticator in Prologue (as General Mark W. Clark)


Begins in documentary style when U. S. Army General Mark Clark authenticates Claire Phillips' adventures and achievements, as an American citizen who rendered invaluable services to her country in Manila during the Japanese occupation, and at the end, when she is presented a medal by a Presidential representative: Claire Phillips, a café entertainer in Manila, marries a U.S. soldier on December 8, 1941, after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, and when he is killed fighting the Japanese invasion of the Phillipines, she returns to her calling as a means of obtaining and transmitting to the American and Filipino guerillas information, supplies and services which the Filipino underground uses in its aid to the Allied forces fighting the Japanese invaders. She has narrow escapes from detection and detention, until she is finally exposed as a spy, arrested, convicted and imprisoned. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Biography | Drama | War


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Did You Know?


A soldier plays Richard Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" as Claire and John prepare to be wedded by a Catholic priest. The Catholic Church, as well as most Lutheran churches, avoid this piece of music for wedding entrance-hymns. See more »


When Japanese planes are shown bombing Philippine targets, a short clip of American Boeing B-29s is included. See more »


Pacio: High Pockets is alive, Compadre. I know. They torture her.
Thompson: I don't believe it. They'd have killed her first thing.
Cpl. John Boone: Shut up. How'd you find out?
Pacio: Fely. She take food in prison. Find out High Pockets alive.
Cpl. John Boone: All right, get your gear. Mac, hustle 'em up.
Thompson: Now, don't jump the gun. This boy could be wrong.
Cpl. John Boone: So what? There's still a chance.
Thompson: Look, our troops are on their way back. A full invasion. If she's alive, let the army rescue her. We can't go down there with a handful of maniacs tryin' to take a prison.
Cpl. John Boone: [...]
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O Sacred Head Surrounded
Text: Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), 1861, after Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) and Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).
Composer: Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), arranged Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750)
Translator: Henry Williams Baker (1821 - 1877)
[Played at resolution of the narrative]
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User Reviews

The Thrilla from Manila
10 August 2011 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Ann Dvorak is real-life spy Claire Phillips in "I Was an American Spy," a 1951 film also starring Gene Evans (known to baby boomers as the father in My Friend Flicka on TV) and with a prologue and an appearance at the end of the film by General Mark Clark.

Though the movie takes the usual dramatic license, it does tell the true story of Claire Phillips, a woman living in Manila with her daughter when the war broke out. After she becomes a widow, Phillips helps the Americans by changing her identity and starting a gentlemen's club in Manila, which becomes popular with the Japanese soldiers. From her club, she provides information, food, boots, and medicine to the soldiers and prisoners of war (although if prisoners of war were mentioned in the film, I missed it). Her code name is "High Pockets" because she would put notes in her brassiere.

If Claire Phillips did a third of what Ann Dvorak portrays in this film -- and I think actually she did much more -- one can see why she was given the Medal of Freedom. I do think the beginning, with her following her husband's battalion around is probably a little fanciful. I mean, walking around in the jungle by yourself - is anyone that foolhardy.

Ann Dvorak is wonderful as Claire. She portrays the woman's bravery, finesse, sophistication, coolness, pluck, and her fear and suffering. An underrated actress who usually played supporting roles and retired from the screen after marrying her third husband in 1952, Dvorak shows that Warner Brothers should have given her better movies.

I thought this was a very good, compelling story of a courageous woman who served our country.

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English | Spanish | Tagalog | Japanese | Italian

Release Date:

14 April 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ich war eine amerikanische Spionin See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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