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Purple Hearts (1984)

In middle of the Vietnam War, a Navy surgeon and a nurse fall in love. Their affection for one another provides a striking contrast to the violence of warfare.


Sidney J. Furie

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Wahl ... Don Jardian
Cheryl Ladd ... Deborah Solomon
Stephen Lee ... Wizard
Annie McEnroe ... Hallaway
Paul McCrane ... Brenner
Cyril O'Reilly ... Zuma
David Harris ... Hanes
Hillary B. Smith ... Jill (as Hillary Bailey)
R. Lee Ermey ... Gunny
Drew Snyder ... Lt. Col. Larimore
Lane Smith ... Cmdr. Markel
James Whitmore Jr. James Whitmore Jr. ... Bwana
Kevin Alyn Elders Kevin Alyn Elders ... CIA Driver (as Kevin Elders)
Sydne Squire Sydne Squire ... Nurse (as Sydney Squire)
David Brass David Brass ... Lt. Grayson (as David Bass)


In middle of the Vietnam War, a Navy surgeon and a nurse fall in love. Their affection for one another provides a striking contrast to the violence of warfare.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Dr. Don Jardian. Age: 29. Surgeon. Drafted. Vietnam. Nothing could have prepared him for the danger, the fear, the violence ... or the woman.


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 August 1984 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Soldier See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Ladd Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The second film in Sidney J. Furie's trilogy of Vietnam War pictures. The first was The Boys in Company C (1978), about infantry soldiers in basic training and combat. Purple Hearts (1984) was packaged with the promotional subtitle "A Vietnam Love Story". The third is _Going Back (2001)_, the story of Vietnam veterans returning to the war torn country decades later with a television film crew. Furie's The Veteran (2006), re-used footage from Going Back with newly shot material. Furie only took the job on The Veteran because they were going to re-use his footage anyway, and he wanted control over it. Furie also directed a trilogy of military-themed pictures in the aughts: American Soldiers (2005), The Four Horsemen (2008), and Conduct Unbecoming (2011). See more »


Lt. Don Jardian (Ken Wahl) is seen saluting a superior officer while uncovered (with his cap or hat removed). Naval services do not salute while uncovered. Later, he is seen covered (wearing his uniform cap) while visiting nurse Deborah Solomon (Cheryl Ladd) in sick bay. Naval service personnel remove their covers indoors and are particularly forbidden to wear them in sick bay or a chow hall. See more »


Zuma: Are you going to eat that rice?
Don Jardian: I had to kill a man to get this rice.
Zuma: Yeah, and the whole fucking valley heard you do it, too.
See more »


Referenced in Misery (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Is there a "Best Special Ops Scene In A Romantic Movie" category?
9 September 2003 | by IslandMadMacsSee all my reviews

First off, this is a much better movie than you would think by just looking at the cast and production.

Yes, essentially this is a wartime romance with all the tear jerky stuff you would expect. (which I happen to enjoy too) But, and this is where things take a turn toward the interesting, this film properly portrays several elements of the US military during the Vietnam War. Including what I consider an incredibly detailed Navy Seal Ops unit, both in characterization and temperament. It borders on the bizarre that such a nugget of special ops combat would be hidden inside a romantic flick.

Their mission, of course, is based on the real life US Army Special Forces rescue operation/raid on Son Tay Prison. But the effect is amazing. A sort of "what if" had the Navy been tasked with the rescue.

Additionally, the firebase hospital scenes were again surprisingly realistic. As well as the actions of the personnel on the naval hospital ship. I'm not sure who the advisors to the movie were, but their on-hand knowledge were well used by both the director and cinematographer.

This was at the height of star Ken Wahl's career - so it comes as a sad reminder of careers that 'could-have-been'. The acting is well done and the romance with beautiful Cheryl Ladd very tangible.

Finally, kudos to Lane Smith who portrays the by-the-book Navy doctor, Commander Markel - and R. Lee Ermey as the Marine Gunnery Sergeant. Not surprisingly R. Lee wasn't stretching his acting muscles too much since he is in fact a globe-n-anchor combat vet who did multiple tours in Nam. If you enjoy the berating bark of everyone's favorite jarhead, check out History Channel's "Mail Call" which R.Lee hosts.

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