32 user 11 critic

The Purple Plain (1954)

In WW2 Burma, a Canadian bomber pilot becomes reckless after losing his bride in a Luftwaffe air-raid.


Robert Parrish


H.E. Bates (novel), Eric Ambler (screenplay)
Nominated for 4 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Gregory Peck ... Squadron Leader Bill Forrester
Win Min Than ... Anna
Brenda de Banzie ... Miss McNab (as Brenda De Banzie)
Bernard Lee ... Dr. Harris
Maurice Denham ... Blore
Lyndon Brook ... Carrington
Anthony Bushell ... Group Captain Aldridge
Josephine Griffin ... Mrs. Bill Forrester
Ram Gopal Ram Gopal ... Mr. Phang


After losing his bride in a Luftwaffe air raid, bomber pilot Forrester becomes a solitary killing machine, who doesn't care whether he dies. The reckless Canadian pilot is both admired and feared by the rest of his squadron in World War II Burma. The squadron physician is assigned to determine the embittered Bill Forrester's fitness for duty. To break through the nightmare-haunted man's wall of silence, the physician drives Forrester to visit an outpost of English-speaking refugees, which includes an alluring young Burmese woman. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The blinding skies and merciless jungles of Burma's "Purple Hell" See more »


Adventure | Drama | War | Action


See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Win Min Than's husband was so jealous about losing her to the film's "decadent" Hollywood star Gregory Peck, he ordered his wife to eat garlic before romantic scenes with Peck. Fortunately, the production crew was able to convince her husband that Peck and the others were respectful of her so he went home leaving her to finish the picture in peace. See more »


The markings on the small model aircraft used in the crash scenes are different to the markings on the larger mock-up crashed aircraft. See more »


Anna: It's for you. You have no one to give it to?
Squadron Leader Bill Forrester: No.
Anna: I'm glad because now you can keep it for me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: BURMA 1945 See more »


Jesus Christ is risen today
Traditional lyrics (from Bohemia)
Music by Robert Williams
Sung when Forrester is asked his favourite Easter hymn
See more »

User Reviews

" If War were a Mistress, I would love her more than a quick death "
2 November 2011 | by thinker1691See all my reviews

In every era of history where men are pitted against each other, there too great memories are lost and buried. As each loss is created, so too are the haunting images which etch across a soldier's face. Every man's countenance thereafter displays his loneliness and despair. Yet within his heart and soul is the yearning for redemption and another chance to live and love again. This movie called " The Purple Plain " is based on the novel written by H. E. Bates and is wonderfully directed by Robert Parrish. With the vast landscape of the Burmese jungle and it's idyllic locations, we have Bill Forester (Gregory Peck) a lost and war weary squadron leader, Bill Forrester (Gregory Peck) pushing his luck in an apparent attempt to commit suicide. Having lost his wife to the war, he now displays a reckless, carefree attitude boarding on the insane. However, those around him see a mutilated man racked by pain and despair, creating both fear and admiration. A doctor (Bernard Lee) is given a last chance to see if there anyway to save him. The film is a superb offering of Mr.Peck's great talent. In addition we see a great performances by Maurice Denham as Blore and Win Min Than as Anna. All in all, this film is one of the most overlooked milestones in cinematic history. ****

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Release Date:

26 November 1954 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Purple Plain See more »

Filming Locations:

Elephant Pass, Sri Lanka See more »


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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