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When Hell Was in Session (1979)

In 1965, Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton's jet is shot down over North Vietnam and he is captured by the enemy who holds him in various brutal POW camps for more than seven years.


Paul Krasny


Eddie Brandt (book), Jeremiah Denton (book) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hal Holbrook ... Cmdr. Jeremiah A. Denton
Eva Marie Saint ... Jane Denton
Mako ... Maj. Bai
Ronny Cox ... Maj. Frank Perrin
Renne Jarrett ... Nancy Tschudy
Richard Evans ... Lt. Alec Vardis
James Hong ... Nguyen
Tom Bower ... Lt. Jim Norton
Stephen Keep Mills ... Lt. Bill Grainger (as Stephen Keep)
Byron Chung ... Quoc
William Kirby Cullen William Kirby Cullen ... Jerry Denton
Paul Mantee ... Capt. Brown
Rod Browning Rod Browning ... Ed Brandt
Rod McCary ... T.V. Host
Ric Carrott Ric Carrott ... Lt. Hadley


This film describes Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton's 7 and a half years as a prisoner of war. Held in numerous, brutal POW camps, he faced starvation, torture and terrible living conditions brought on by his North Vietnamese captors in an effort to keep communication alive between the prisoners. His wife, Jane, is also arranging a POW wives league in the U.S. in order to popularize their plight. Written by mike407

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He fought to stay alive. She fought to set him free.


Biography | Drama | War







Release Date:

8 October 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cuando el infierno abrió sus puertas See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Goldwyn Sound Service)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A must see film!!
10 December 2003 | by ketchkevSee all my reviews

I was fortunate enough to see this film back in the early 80's on late night television (long before cable and satellite TV). I only saw it once, but it left a very lasting impression on me. To see the torture on POW's like that is a total cry against humanity. I was literally fighting back tears watching this film, finding it hard to believe that this sort of activity occurs during wartime. My hat goes off to Col. Denton, and I hope more people will learn of his account. He is worthy of all the highest military honors possible. I hope this film doesn't gather dust for too long, and will be shown again soon!

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