Information from IMDb
A group of men parachute into Japanese-occupied Burma
with a dangerous and important mission: to locate and blow up a radar station.
They accomplish this well enough, but when they try to rendezvous at an old air-strip
to be taken back to their base, they find Japanese waiting for them,
and they must make a long, difficult walk back through enemy-occupied jungle.
Written by John Oswalt
Errol Flynn ... Capt. Nelson
James Brown ... SSgt. Treacy
William Prince ... Lt. Sid Jacobs
George Tobias ... Cpl. Gabby Gordon
Henry Hull ... Mark Williams
Warner Anderson ... Col. J. Carter
John Alvin ... Hogan
Mark Stevens ... Lt. Barker (as Stephen Richards)
Richard Erdman ... Pvt. Nebraska Hooper (as Dick Erdman)
Erville Alderson ... Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell (uncredited)
Joel Allen ... Cpl. Brophy - Radioman (uncredited)
Gordon Arnold ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Hugh Beaumont ... Capt. Hennessey (uncredited)
Lee Bennett ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Carlyle Blackwell Jr. ... Lt. Barker - Pilot (uncredited)
Truman Bradley ... Narrator - Opening Sequence (voice) (uncredited)
Kit Carson ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Neil Carter ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Anthony Caruso ... Miggleori (uncredited)
Jim Drum ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Stanley Dunn ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Elmer Ellingwood ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Paul Gerkin ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Larry Hall ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Louis Hart ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Abdul Hassan ... Burmese Priest (uncredited)
Douglas Henderson ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Ace Hudkins ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
William Hudson ... Fred Hollis (uncredited)
John James ... Pilot (uncredited)
Asit Koomar ... Gurkha (uncredited)
Pete Kooy ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Weaver Levy ... Chinese Captain (uncredited)
Liparit ... Burmese Man (uncredited)
Lester Matthews ... British Maj. Fitzpatrick (uncredited)
Paul McWilliams ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Harlan Miller ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Charles Mitchell ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Charles Murray Jr. ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Bennie Novicki ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
John O'Connor ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Leon O'Neal ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
George Peters ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Allen Pomeroy ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Rodd Redwing ... Sgt. Chattu (uncredited)
Larry Rio ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Laddie Rucker ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Byron Ruggles ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Charles Schrader ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Bernard Sell ... Pilot (uncredited)
John Sheridan ... Co-Pilot (uncredited)
Raul Singh ... Burmese Priest (uncredited)
Jack Stroll ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Paul Stupin ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Frank Tang ... Capt. Li (uncredited)
Tex Taylor ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
George Tyne ... Pvt. Soapy Higgins from Flatbush (uncredited)
Russ Whiteman ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
John Whitney ... Negulesco (uncredited)
Buster Wiles ... Paratrooper (uncredited)
Ranald MacDougall (screenplay) &
Lester Cole (screenplay)
Alvah Bessie (original story)
James Wong Howe
The movie was pulled from release in the UK after just one week. It was banned there after heated protest from British veterans groups and the military establishment. As the Burma campaign was a predominantly British and Australian operation, the picture was taken as a national insult due to the movie's Americanization of the Burma operation. The resentment that many felt was seen as yet another example of Americans believing they had won the war singlehandedly. It was not shown in Britain again until 1952/1953 and then with an apology disclaimer. Incidentally, writer Lester Cole, who co-wrote the somewhat overly patriotic flag-waving script, would be branded an "Un-American" Communist, becoming one of the Hollywood Ten just a few years later.
This was remade as Distant Drums with Gary Cooper , Richard Webb and Arthur Hunnicutt and set in the Florida Everglades.
All the weapons, uniforms, and gear used in this movie are original and accurate. This was possible due to the fact that these were still in use to the US military when this film was made. WW2 movies made in recent times use reproduction weapons and gear.
The story was partially inspired by "Operation Loincloth," a 1943 long-range operation in Burma by the British Chindits. However, producer Jerry Wald also admitted that much of the screenplay was based on 'Northwest Passage' (Book I -- Rogers' Rangers), a film about the adventures of a long-range ranger unit during the French & Indian War.
Most of the exteriors of Burma were shot at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The film has an authentic feel to it, thanks to the use of authentic military aircraft and materials. Also, the film includes a large amount of authentic footage taken by U.S. Army Signal Corps cameramen in the China Burma India theater.
Errol Flynn was criticized for playing heroes in World War II movies. Tony Thomas in his book 'Errol Flynn: The Spy Who Never Was' states that Flynn had tried to enlist in every branch of any armed services he could but was rejected as unfit for service on the grounds of his health. Flynn had a heart condition, tuberculosis, malaria and a back problem. Flynn felt he could contribute to America's war effort by appearing in such films as Edge of Darkness; Northern Pursuit; Dive Bomber, Objective, Burma!, and Uncertain Glory. Reportedly, Flynn was at his most professional and co-operative he ever was whilst working on Second World War movies. The studios apparently did not diffuse the criticism of Flynn's state-of-health as they wished to keep it quiet for fear of his box-office draw waning.
'Wingate and Cochran' are Major General Orde Wingate, commander of the Indian 77th Brigade, and Colonel Phillip Cochran of the 1st Air Commando Group (US Army Air Force).
'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell was commander of the US forces in the China-Burma-India Theatre and is portrayed in the movie by Erville Anderson.
According to actor William Prince, the only direction given by Raoul Walsh was, "All right, boys, no Hamlets in the jungle."
Members of Merrill's Marauders, who were on location as technical advisers, critiqued the fact that Nelson's men killed all the Japanese at the radar station so quickly with none wounded or escaped. That was likely by design because any of the defenders left alive would have to be executed by the special ops troops, something that 1945 audiences would have found objectionable for American troops to do.
One of the minor roles is a character named Negulesco, an in-joke. Director Jean Negulesco was a house-director at Warners and co-worker, who was scheduled to direct Errol Flynn's next picture, The New Adventures of Don Juan. Unforseen delays caused it to be postponed and Negulesco was ultimately replaced.
According to Warners, six cameras were used to shoot the climactic hilltop battle sequence.
It seems incongruous that after accompanying the platoon the entire way to record the mission, no one in the group seems concerned with preserving or saving the work of Mark Williams, the war correspondent.
The Henry Hull character utters the oath, "The bastards!" in reference to the Japanese. It is somewhat and muffled, and as he was off-screen, the censors evidently missed it.
There are no female roles in this movie.
In the scenes with the Japanese reacting to the destruction of the radar station, the spoken dialogue is obviously overdubbed and out of sync. The Japanese soldiers were played by Filipino and Chinese actors.
During the retreat action sequence, after the firefight in the swamp, the machine gun is picked up by the barrel. After firing this much the barrel would have been much too hot to touch.
Capt Nelson switches back and forth from carrying an M1 carbine to a Thompson submachine gun.
Capt Nelson is carrying a carbine with the stock folded, but during the fight in the village when the scene switches to show him firing the carbine the stock is extended (unfolded). The next scene in which he appears, the stock is folded.
Nelson helps Williams attach his static line. The direction of the hook changes in Nelson's hand as he does this.
As Nelson briefs Williams on the jump, the static line alternates between loose and taut.
When the company gets to the top of the hill, Nelson is carrying the machine gun, which alternates between top-up and bottom-up.
On the top of the hill, the pattern of the hole in the netting on Nelson's helmet changes between shots.
When Nelson asks Brophy to contact the plane at the first rendezvous, Brophy is in sun in the long shot and in dappled sunlight in the close shot.
The position of the Japanese boxes Nelson fires from behind in the village changes between when he is there and the Japanese troops run by them.
Errors in geography
The large trees near the village are Eucalyptus trees, only found growing wild in Australia, though there are large groves in California.
Early in the movie on several occasions, one of the Jungle noises was the laugh of a Kookaburra - only found in Australia and not in Burma.
In all aerial scenes, the US transports used are C47's. In a takeoff scene about one third into the film, the transports shown are C46's.
At the Japanese radar station, the operator is plainly seen sitting physically on the antenna. This would never have happened for a multitude of reasons - not the least of which would have been the RF radiation being emitted from the radar transmitter itself... The "operator" would have been fried.
When Captain Nelson orders the supply sergeant to issue correspondent Mark Williams "everything from soup to nuts, complete jump outfit," the sergeant, in addition to a correct paratrooper's chest-mounted reserve parachute, plops a fighter pilot's ripcord-activated seat pack parachute on the table, not the proper, static line-activated backpack parachute used by paratroopers.
One of the medium machine guns used is not US Army standard issue, feeding from the right side like a British Vickers. Also this machine gun seems to change places freely with a more accurate M1919 model throughout the movie.
The 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment served in the Pacific - in New Guinea and the Philippines but not in Burma.
As Capt. Nelson gathers and speaks to his men in a clearing after temporarily escaping the enemy at the pickup airfield, a tree in the distant background suddenly falls over and disappears.
One of the "dead" Japanese soldiers of the Japanese Radar/Radio installation lying on the ground flops his left foot from a heel outward position, away from his body, (which must have been real uncomfortable) to heel inward.
During the hilltop supply drop, the support wire from fuselage to tail on the camera plane is visible.
When Capt. Nelson opens the door of the C-47, readying himself and his crew for the upcoming parachute jump, you can see where he casts a ghost-like "shadow" on the nearby backdrop screen that's being used to display the outside landscape rushing by.
Following the fight at the Burmese village where Soapy Higgins is killed, the survivors are crossing a swamp after missing the third search plane and Soapy Higgins is in the group right after Nebraska.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden - 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, California, USA
Providencia Ranch, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Stage 14, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA
Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA
Warner Ranch, Calabasas, California, USA
Whittier, California, USA
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