Thursday, January 06, 2011

Radio review – Lux – “So Proudly We Hail” (1943) *** (warning: spoilers)

Sure, it’s a bit hokey and melodramatic, but this came out not long after the actual events happened, when there were veterans of Corregidor and Bataan still suffering and dying in POW camps. There’s an Aussie connection, too: some nurses arrive in Melbourne, having just escaped from Corregidor – we go into flashbacks courtesy of Paulette Goddard to find out why Claudette Colbert had a nervous breakdown. It’s her romance with a fella, of course – played by George Reeves in the film, but by some other guy here. Sonny Tufts reprises his film role as a loveable lunk, Kansas – but the best performance is actually from Veronica Lake. She plays a nurse who hates the Japs because the killed her fiancée at Pearl Harbour and is determined to knock off some POWs; she has a great hysterical breakdown and death scene, where she kills herself to take out some Jap soldiers so her friends can get away. This really gave me fresh appreciation for Lake’s talents.

As an aside, this film falls into two war sub-genres: the nurse picture, and the American defeat film. The latter were a group of movies made during the early days of America’s entry into World War Two, because the only true stories they could make were about defeats: Bataan, Wake Island, Corregidor, this; later on was They Were Expendable. (Was there ever a time when Hollywood made so many films about US defeats?). Nurse pictures have been made on and off over the years (although the British seem to have more enthusiasm for them than the Americans).

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