The Purple Heart

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Overview

The year is 1942: eight American airmen crash-land during the Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo and are taken prisoner. Though slated for execution, the pilots are put through a "show trial" by the military, on a charge of committing war crimes. The Japanese judges promise to be merciful if only the Americans will reveal vital US military secrets. But captain Dana Andrews speaks for the rest of his melting-pot crew-some of whom have been subjected to the most horrific of tortures--when he chooses death before ...
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Overview

The year is 1942: eight American airmen crash-land during the Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo and are taken prisoner. Though slated for execution, the pilots are put through a "show trial" by the military, on a charge of committing war crimes. The Japanese judges promise to be merciful if only the Americans will reveal vital US military secrets. But captain Dana Andrews speaks for the rest of his melting-pot crew-some of whom have been subjected to the most horrific of tortures--when he chooses death before dishonor. In its own way, The Purple Heart is as racist a piece of propaganda as was ever produced by Hollywood. The Japanese are shown to be little more than sadistic beasts at one point, the judges interrupt the trial by moronically shouting "Banzai" after receiving news of a military victory, while hissing, buck-toothed interrogator Richard Loo "I attended your...Amelican universities", unable to admit that he's been wrong about Yankee resilience, commits hara-kiri. Remember, however, that The Purple Heart was made at a time when America was still at war with Japan, and political correctness was hardly a consideration. Its jingoism aside, the film is a first-rate piece of moviemaking, socked across by director Lewis Milestone with the same fervor that he'd expended on his anti-war masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front 1930.
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Special Features

Audio commentary by film critic Richard Schickel ; Still gallery; Original theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Although The Purple Heart was widely hailed when it was first released, modern audiences may not be quite as receptive to it. In 1944, with the war still ongoing, there was an emotional connection and an immediacy to this material that is simply lacking decades later. Even in its time, Heart had a propagandistic agenda, and its depiction of the Japanese was not totally on-the-mark even then. (This isn't to say that there were not horrific abuses by Japan, merely that the film's depiction is by design intended to amplify these abuses.) But there are other problems unrelated to this, mainly the obvious and manipulative dramatic structure of the film and the manner in which logic falls by the wayside for dramatic purposes. The chief culprits in this last regard are the courtroom "celebration" scene, the hara-kiri sequence, and the court allowing Dana Andrews and Sam Levene the freedom to mouth off at some length. Even with these failings, however, Heart manages to be exceptionally powerful, thanks in large part to Lewis Milestone's masterful direction. He handles the material with total commitment, and the depth of feeling he brings to the project is palpable and invaluable. Plus, Milestone's inquisitive camera is much in evidence, moving around what could be static courtroom sequences to create as much drama as it captures. The cast is quite good, with Andrews providing the strong center and significant turns from Levene, Richard Conte and others as well. Even Richard Loo's stereotypical enemy works in context; it's not a subtle portrait, but it's got oomph.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/24/2007
  • UPC: 024543432920
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:40:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dana Andrews Capt. Harvey Ross
Richard Conte Lt. Angelo Canelli
Farley Granger Sgt. Howard Clinton
Sam Levene Lt. Wayne Greenbaum
Kevin O'Shea Sgt. Jan Skvoznik
Don "Red" Barry Lt. Peter Vincent
Tala Birell Johanna Hartwig
Trudy Marshall Mrs. Ross
Charles Russell Lt. Kenneth Bayforth
John Craven Sgt. Martin Stoner
Richard Loo Gen. Ito Mitsubi
Peter Chong Mitsuru Toyama
Gregory Gaye Peter Voroshevski
Torben Meyer Karl Keppel
Kurt Katch Ludwig Kruger
Martin Garralaga Manuel Siva
Erwin Kalser Karl Schleswig
Alex Papana Paul Ludovescu
H.T. Tsiang Yuen Chiu Ling
Benson Fong Moy Ling
Keye Chang Adm. Kentara Yamagichi
Allen Jung Itsubi Sakai
Wing Foo Police Captain
Joseph Kim Prosecutor
Luke Chan Court Stenographer
Beal Wong Toma Nogato
Marshall Thompson Hank Morrison
Philip Ahn Saburo Goto
Spencer Chan
Angel Cruz Army Aides
Igor Dolgoruki Boris Evenik
Roque Espiritu
Harold Fong
Paul Fung Court Clerk
Eddie Lee
James B. Leong
Leon Lontoc
Clarence Lung Japanese Lieutenant
Bruce Wong
Lee Tung Foo 3rd Judge
Pete Katchenaro
Nestor Paiva Francisco De Los Santos
Technical Credits
Lewis Milestone Director
James Basevi Art Director
Douglas Biggs Editor
Jerry Cady Screenwriter
Lewis H. Creber Art Director
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Arthur C. Miller Cinematographer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Purple Heart
1. Main Titles [1:40]
2. Show Trial [7:42]
3. Indicted for Murder [5:59]
4. Forced to Jump [6:08]
5. Picked Up [5:55]
6. Civilian Casualties [3:26]
7. Difference of Opinion [5:31]
8. Honorary Member [3:40]
9. United by Hate [7:21]
10. Whatever the Cost [5:27]
11. Melee [7:55]
12. End of a Dream [4:17]
13. Thought of Home [3:32]
14. A Cop Named Joe [3:10]
15. Speechless [2:26]
16. Happy Birthday [5:42]
17. Tied Up in a Knot [7:10]
18. Tempting Offer [2:54]
19. Deliberations [4:59]
20. The Final Word [4:44]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- The Purple Heart
   Play
   Scene Selection
   Language Selection
      Languages: English Mono
      Languages: English Stereo
      Languages: Spanish Mono
      Languages: Commentary
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Spanish
      Subtitles: None
   Special Features
      Commentary by Film Critic Richard Schickel: On
      Commentary by Film Critic Richard Schickel: Off
      Trailer
      Still Gallery
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Customer Reviews

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    Posted February 23, 2009

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