Published on February 16th, 2011 | by Chris0
Go For Broke! (1951)
"Go For Broke!" was the motto of the 442nd Combat team, famous for being comprised of Japanese-Americans, a number of which were from the internment camps (more on this below.) This film is an early tribute to these men, and in fact, a number of them actually star therein.
Lieutenant Grayson (Van Johnson) is sent to lead this team, and in doing so has to overcome his own prejudices. In this respect you've got to give credit to the filmmakers for breaching what was probably (still in '51) a touchy subject. Unfortunately Johnson really doesn't seem all that interested in being here. Whether that's supposed to be a reflection on his character not wanting to be there or what, I can't say.
The rest of the guys actually do a really great job for a bunch of non-actors, I have to admit. I was really impressed with the lot of them. They really seemed to be "into" their parts, I suppose because they knew what they were doing, but impressive nonetheless.
The film follows them through Italy and through France, culminating in the unit's decoration. Almost a fitting tribute. Nearly there, but not quite, and here's why:
If there was any mention of the camps in this film, I must have missed it, or it was just barely glossed over. For the most part, the men are shown as being from Hawaii. I'm sure quite a few of them were, but it was almost like the filmmakers didn't want to "go there" if you get my drift. Not that we need it shoved down our throats, but it seemed a glaring omission.
There is a lot of humor in this as well. Of particular note is Grayson reading his "Pocket guides" to Italy and France, which extol the virtues of the exotic locations they are in, with footage of the *real* conditions on the screen.
The combat scenes are, for the most part, well executed and lacking in any real dumb moments..... Right up until the last, that is, when they all start shouting "Go For Broke!" in various cheesy manners.
Despite its flaws, Go For Broke! really isn't that bad overall. For 1951 I'm sure it was as good as we were going to get as a tribute to these guys. We'll see if the latest attempt makes it through production, and how it compares.
Oh, and it would seem this film didn't make the cut when it came to renewing copyrights back in the day when that sort of thing was required, so... Bonus! You get to watch the WHOLE THING right here! Enjoy!
or you can get it on DVD in the Amazon tab...
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Summary: Despite its flaws, Go For Broke! really isn't that bad overall. For 1951 I'm sure it was as good as we were going to get as a tribute to these guys.