Published on June 25th, 2009 | by Chris0
The Purple Heart (1944)
The Purple Heart is of course the medal given to servicemen wounded in the line of duty. The movie of the same name, really doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the medal. At least not what I could tell.
What it is, though is a perfect example of a World War II “propaganda” movie, again, for lack of a better term.
A Bomber crew is taken captive by the Japanese after they crash land in China after the infamous Doolittle raid. What follows in this film is their “trial” by the Japanese, witnessed by a group of international journalists.
But the entire thing is just plain ridiculous to watch. I can’t think of a good way to say it. Everyone is caricatured in blazing stereotypes so thick you’d need an axe to get through it. From the Japanese, to the Chinese governor and his son, to the German reporters covering the trial (who seem to be there just to cement the fact that we’re dealing with Axis powers, not simply Japanese ones….) they’re all laughably over the top.
And unfortunately the same goes for our “heroes” the bomber crew. Headed by Capt. Ross (Dana Andrews) they are so unbelievably gung-ho patriotic to the very end, that it hurts more than helps. It also doesn’t hurt the patriotic cause of the film to have our men tortured at every opportunity. And of course, who should arrive but a Swiss delegate from the Red Cross to help bring some civility to these heathens…. sigh.
On the one hand, you’ve got to realize that films like this exist. They’re not inherently bad, and historically speaking they went a long way towards keeping the folks at home in that “fighting spirit” that we needed to see the thing through. Inaccurate, overplayed, you name it, its there in spades.
On the other hand, we look back now on stuff like this with such a negative view, it almost makes me feel guilty to rail on it. I’ve seen better examples, that aren’t nearly as crazy. But The Purple Heart is just so textbook in this respect I just can’t help it. Points for effort, and for “the thought that counts,” but brother, tone it down a bit!
Summary: Points for effort, and for "the thought that counts," but brother, tone it down a bit!