In honor of Memorial Day weekend, we’re here with the 1943 World War II drama So Proudly We Hail, starring Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Came The Brawn (1938)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 6 (1936-1938) from ClassicFlix)
(Length: 10 minutes, 57 seconds)
The Gang is looking forward to a wrestling match between “The Masked Marvel” and “Wildcat” Alfalfa (Carl Switzer). Alfalfa chooses Waldo (Darwood Kaye) to be his opponent because he thinks he can beat him and thus impress his girlfriend, Darla (Darla Hood). Butch (Tommy Bond) (who is also interested in Darla) takes matters in his own hands and wrestles as “The Masked Marvel.” This one was a lot of fun! Much of the fun is in seeing Alfalfa try to figure out who to wrestle, with his initial opponent Porky (Eugene Lee) taking him down easily enough. The actual wrestling match between Alfalfa and Butch was fun enough, especially with Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) and Porky saving the day for Alfalfa. Like many of the others that I’ve seen recently, this one was enjoyable enough that I would love to see it again!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Under the leadership of Lt. Janet “Davy” Davidson (Claudette Colbert), a group of Army nurses, including Lt. Joan O’Doul (Paulette Goddard), leave San Francisco on a boat bound for Hawaii, where they will be stationed. However, while they are en route, Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, forcing their ship to be re-routed to join a convoy in the Pacific. Several other ships in the convoy get attacked, forcing their ship to take on survivors. One of these survivors is another nurse, Lt. Olivia D’Arcy (Veronica Lake), who reluctantly joins Davy’s group. She is bitter and angry about something, resulting in her getting along poorly with all the other nurses. One night, Davy is able to find out why: Olivia’s fiancé was killed at Pearl Harbor, and now Olivia wants to take her revenge on the Japanese. Meanwhile, Joan is falling for a soldier she met in San Francisco named Kansas (Sonny Tufts), while Davy reluctantly (at first) falls for medical technician Lt. John Summers (George Reeves). Their time together comes to an end when the boat arrives at the Bataan Peninsula, where the nurses dive right in to their work taking care of the wounded soldiers (with Olivia even doing her bit to take care of some enemy soldiers in spite of her ill will towards them). The front lines of the war get closer and closer, forcing everyone to evacuate. The nurses are among the last to attempt to leave. They are nearly caught by the enemy, and only manage to get away because Olivia sacrifices herself by “surrendering” to the enemy (with a live grenade that kills her and the enemy soldiers). The remaining nurses move on to a jungle hospital, where they try to work with dwindling medical supplies. Things get worse when the front lines collapse, and then the Japanese start attacking the hospital (wounding John Summers in the process). They have no choice but to evacuate everybody to Corregidor, dodging enemy fire the whole way. Many of the nurses make it to Corregidor, where they enjoy *some* safety in the underground tunnels. However, the Japanese continue with their air raids, making things miserable for everybody (especially with medical supplies running out and food supplies dwindling). When he’s healed just enough, John Summers joins a group that plan to go after some medical supplies to help everybody. With only a few hours together, John and Davy decide to get married, and enjoy a brief “honeymoon” together. With the Japanese barrage continuing (while John and some of the other men are still on their mission to get supplies), it’s decided to have all the nurses evacuated, much to Davy’s dismay. Will Davy and John be reunited? Will everybody successfully escape, or will the Japanese prevent their retreat?
Historically, right before Corregidor fell to the Japanese in 1942, the Navy was able to evacuate nearly seventy-five people, including a number of nurses. Director Mark Sandrich heard about their story, and, along with screenwriter Allan Scott, actually talked to them to get their story (even going so far as to hire one of them, Lt. Eunice Hatchitt, as a technical advisor for what would become So Proudly We Hail). Of course, in making the film, they still had to deal with the Office of War Information (OWI), particularly in the form of its Hollywood chief, Nelson Poynter. Some (but not all) of the changes he requested were implemented. The whole thing worked out well for everybody, as audiences took to the film, and it received a number of Oscar nominations (including Paulette Goddard’s only Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress).
Prior to the announcement of this film coming out on Blu-ray (more on that in a moment), I hadn’t really heard of this film. However, I had seen (and enjoyed) a variety of movies with each of the film’s leading ladies, so it was a movie that I was willing to give a chance. And it was worth it! It’s got a lot, from romance to wartime scenes (particularly when some of the hospitals get bombed). Heck, there’s even a brief Christmastime sequence (for those who like finding more movies to watch around that holiday like I do), with an inspirational message from the chaplain (as played by Walter Abel). What really makes this film good, though, is the relationships between the characters (and I don’t just mean the romantic ones). We see them all develop friendships, particularly Veronica Lake’s Olivia D’Arcy, who goes from being angry and bitter (and therefore, disliked by all the other nurses) to a much softer and kinder personality, whom the other nurses come to care for (and which makes her ultimate sacrifice that much more compelling). The wartime scenes are also quite effective, giving a sense of danger and death as we see everybody try to survive the attacks. The movie certainly hovers on the edge of being propaganda (since it was made halfway through the war), as it does not have any positive feelings towards the Japanese (who are a faceless enemy, as there are none actually portrayed here, which at least means that few, if any, stereotypes are used here). But, as I’ve indicated, it’s still so much more than that. I was thrilled to see this movie, and it’s one I know that I would love to watch yet again, especially around Memorial Day in honor of the sacrifices made, not only by the soldiers themselves, but all the medical personnel and even chaplains (like my late great-grandfather)! So, yes, this one is highly recommended by me!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… So Proudly We Hail (1943)
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics featuring a new 2K master. The image has been cleaned up of most of the dirt and debris (with only a few minor scratches remaining, but they really don’t take away from the viewing experience). The detail is quite good for this black-and-white film, so I would say that this Blu-ray is the best way to see this movie!
Film Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Claudette Colbert – Since You Went Away (1944)
Nothing But The Truth (1941) – Paulette Goddard
I Married A Witch (1942) – Veronica Lake – The Blue Dahlia (1946)
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