AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Objective, Burma!
Director: Raoul Walsh (Dir)
Release Date:   17 Feb 1945
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 26 Jan 1945
Production Date:   1 May--26 Aug 1944
Duration (in mins):   141-142
Duration (in feet):   12,745
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Cast:   Errol Flynn (Captain Chuck Nelson)  
    James Brown (Sergeant Treacy)  
    William Prince (Lieutenant Sidney Jacobs)  
    George Tobias ("Gabby" Gordon)  
    Henry Hull (Mark Williams)  
    Warner Anderson (Colonel Carter)  
    John Alvin (Hogan)  
    Stephen Richards (Lieutenant Parker)  
    Dick Erdman ("Nebraska" Hooper)  
    John Whitney (Negulesco)  
    Tony Caruso (Miggleori)  
    Frank Tang (Captain Li)  
    Buddy Yarus (Soapy)  
    Joel Allen (Brophy)  
    Rodric Redwing (Sergeant Chettu)  
    William Hudson (Hollis)  
    Asit Koomar    
    Lester Matthews (Major Fitzpatrick)  
    John Sheridan (Co-pilot)  
    Liparit (Burmese man)  
    Weaver Levy (Chinese captain)  
    Erville Alderson (General Stilwell)  
    Abdul Hassan (Burmese priest)  
    Raul Singh (Burmese priest)  
    John James (Pilot)  
    Carlyle Blackwell Jr. (Pilot)  
    Bernie Sell (Pilot)  
    Gordon Arnold (Paratrooper)  
    Lee Bennett (Paratrooper)  
    Kit Carson (Paratrooper)  
    Neil Carson (Paratrooper)  
    Jim Drum (Paratrooper)  
    Stanley Dunn (Paratrooper)  
    Elmer Ellingwood (Paratrooper)  
    Paul Gerkin (Paratrooper)  
    Larry Hall (Paratrooper)  
    Louis Hart (Paratrooper)  
    Douglas Henderson (Paratrooper)  
    Shepard Houghton (Paratrooper)  
    Ace Hudkins (Paratrooper)  
    Pete Kooy (Paratrooper)  
    Paul McWilliams (Paratrooper)  
    Harlan Miller (Paratrooper)  
    Charles Mitchell (Paratrooper)  
    Charles Murray Jr. (Paratrooper)  
    Bennie Novicki (Paratrooper)  
    John O'Connor (Paratrooper)  
    Leon O'Neal (Paratrooper)  
    George Peters (Paratrooper)  
    Allen Pomeroy (Paratrooper)  
    Larry Rio (Paratrooper)  
    Laddie Rucker    
    Byron Ruggles (Paratrooper)  
    Charles Shrader (Paratrooper)  
    Jack Stroll (Paratrooper)  
    Paul Stupin (Paratrooper)  
    Tex Taylor (Paratrooper)  
    Henry Vroom ("Nebraska" Hooper)  
    Russ Whiteman (Paratrooper)  
    Buster Wiles (Paratrooper)  
    Stephen Whitney ("Nebraska" Hooper)  

Summary: Before a combined Allied effort to recapture Burma can begin, a radar station hidden in the Burmese jungle must be destroyed. Captain Chuck Nelson heads this operation, aided by Lieutenant Sidney Jacobs and two Gurkha guides. A company of paratroopers is told that they will parachute into the jungle, destroy the station and then advance through the jungle to an abandoned airstrip, where they will be picked up. Middle-aged reporter Mark Williams will accompany the men, even though Nelson believes that his age will be a serious disadvantage. Early the next morning, the men land in the jungle. They successfully locate the station and destroy it, but now the Japanese are aware of their presence and escape has become more difficult. The men make it to the airstrip, but a Japanese patrol prevents the rescue plane from landing. By radio, Nelson arranges for his men to be retrieved two days later at another airstrip. The men split into two groups, one led by Nelson, the other by Jacobs. When Nelson's group reaches the rendezvous point, a plane drops supplies, but informs them that all nearby landing fields have been captured by the Japanese. This means that Nelson's men will have to make their way through the jungle to the border. Two severely wounded men from Jacobs' group arrive and inform the others that the rest of the company was captured by the Japanese. As soon as possible, Nelson's men set out on their journey, pursued by the Japanese. They arrive at a Burmese village, where they find the mutilated, tortured bodies of the other American soldiers. Jacobs, who is still alive and in great pain, begs Nelson to kill him, but dies before Nelson is forced to do so. After fighting off a Japanese attack, the few surviving soldiers head for their next supply drop. There, Nelson is ordered to march back into the Burmese interior. After the supplies are dropped, the troop's radio is destroyed in a Japanese ambush, and the men are forced to march without supplies. When they cannot be contacted, Nelson's group is presumed lost or dead, but they manage to reach their destination in the middle of the jungle. Although they have no idea why they were ordered there, the soldiers dig in and wait. During the night, an exhausted Williams dies. Finally, an American plane is spotted overhead. Nelson signals the plane with a mirror and new supplies are dropped to the famished men. When it gets dark, the Japanese attack, but by the morning, the Japanese have pulled out. Having accomplished their mission of distracting the Japanese so that the Burmese invasion can begin, the remaining eleven of Nelson's men are taken back to their base. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Raoul Walsh (Dir)
  John Maxwell (Dial dir)
  Paul Le Pere (Dial dir)
  Elmer Decker (Asst dir)
  Herbert Greene (2d asst dir)
Producer: Jack L. Warner (Exec prod)
  Jerry Wald (Prod)
Writer: Ranald MacDougall (Scr)
  Lester Cole (Scr)
  Alvah Bessie (Orig story)
Photography: James Wong Howe (Dir of photog)
  Thomas Morris (2d cam)
  Dick Rawlings (Asst cam)
  Charles Alexander (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Ted Smith (Art dir)
Film Editor: George Amy (Film ed)
  Lee Huntington (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Jack McConaghy (Set dec)
  Lloyd Edwards (Props)
  J. Leslie Asher (Asst props)
Costumes: Henry Field (Ward)
  Clayton Brackett (Ward)
Music: Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Franz Waxman (Mus)
  Leonid Raab (Orch arr)
Sound: C. A. Riggs (Sd)
  Gordon M. Davis (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  E. Kenneth Martin (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Charles David Forrest (Music mixer)
Special Effects: E. B. Du Par (Spec eff)
  Paul Detlefsen (Matte paintings)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Ward Hamilton (Makeup)
Production Misc: Major Charles S. Galbraith United States Army Parachute Troops (Tech adv)
  Major M. H. Whyte British Indian Army Battalion the Burma Rifles (Tech adv)
  Frank Mattison (Unit mgr)
  Irva Mae Ross (Scr clerk)
  William Guthrie (Location mgr)
  S. K. Taylor (Grip)
  Earl Elwood (Best boy)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 10/3/1945 dd/mm/yyyy LP13150

PCA NO: 10098
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
 
Subjects (Major): Burma
  Escapes
  Japan. Army
  Jungles
  Soldiers
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): Battles
  Parachutes and parachuting
  Radios
  Reporters
  Torture
  United States. Army

Note: The film begins with the following written quotation from General Joseph W. Stilwell, United States Army: "I claim we got a beating. We got run out of Burma and it's humiliating as hell. I'll go over the mountains into India and rake up an army. I'll supply them there, train them, and some day I'll lead them back into Burma." The film ends with the following written statement: "This story has a conclusion but not an end--It will end only when the evil forces of Japan are totally destroyed. This film is gratefully dedicated to the men of the American, British, Chinese and Indian Armies, without whose heroic efforts Burma would still be in the hands of the Japanese."
       HR news items add the following information: Scenes were shot on location in Palm Springs and Whittier Park, CA. Production records included in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library list other Los Angeles area locations, including Mulholland Dr., Topanga Canyon, the Baldwin Estate in Santa Anita, the Warner Bros. and Providencia ranches and the Metropolitan Airport in Van Nuys. A press release notes that Rod Redwing, who plays "Sgt. Chettu," was a Native American, not an East Indian. A news item in LAEx states that the film's story was based on a real incident in which sixty men were dropped behind Japanese lines in Burma (now Myanmar). Records of the War Department, Public Relations Division, note that technical advisor Major Charles S. Galbraith spent two-and-a-half years with the paratroopers and had seen a great deal of jungle fighting. A 2 Jan 1944 memo from producer Jerry Wald to studio head Jack L. Warner included in the War Department records outlines War Department suggestions for emphasizing British involvement in the Burmese invasion: "...if possible, salt a few names like [Frank Dow] Merrill, [Orde Charles] Wingate and [Philip] Cochrane and emphasize British activity in this area and the cooperation between the forces....substitute the words 'Wingate and Cochrane have arrived,' instead of Stilwell....In the scene prior to climbing to the top of the hill...see if we can inject Merrill's Marauders or Wingate's Raiders....On the main title...also use the name Major M. H. Whyte, British Indian Army 8 (F.F.) Battalion the Burma Rifles."
       A 22 Dec 1944 War Department memo from Colonel Curtis Mitchell, A.U.S., Chief, Pictorial Branch urges the filmmakers to consider the fact that "...these Burmese activities have involved the 23d and 38th Chinese Divisions, the 36th Indian Division, and a special outfit of 3000 American Infantrymen....The Cochrane [American] Air Commandos carried in a battalion of American airborne Combat Engineers plus British-Indian ground forces; Merrill's Marauders were Americans, Wingate's soldiers were English and Indian. These facts must be resolved in relation to the pictured presentation of the war being won by paratroopers--none of whom actually jumped in Burma. I recognize the fact that this is alleged to be a fictitious story, but its production is so authentic, so vivid, and so realistic that a major part of the public is going to accept it as a record of events, especially in view of the announced cooperation of the Air Forces, the paratroopers and the War Department. Therefore, if we can bring its level of historical information up to its present level of authentic background, we will be serving the war effort well."
       Despite these suggestions, contemporary sources note that after the film's release, British critics complained that the movie virtually ignored the role of the British 14th Army in the Burmese campaign, and the picture was withdrawn from exhibition in London. Lieutenant Colonel William H. Taylor, Jr., a United States Army Air Force officer who served in Burma, was quoted in NYT as saying: "As one of the Americans who, contrary to the film, were in the minority in these particular operations...I am embarrassed by the implications of this film." Despite these criticisms, Alvah Bessie's original story was nominated for an Academy Award as were George Amy's editing and Franz Waxman's music. According to modern sources, six hand-carved teakwood Burmese sculptures were used to decorate the exterior of a Burmese temple to add authenticity to the film set. Chinese and Filipino extras portrayed Japanese soldiers and one hundred Burmese farm workers from California's Central Valley were hired to play villagers. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   3 Feb 1945.   
Daily Variety   21 Jan 45   p. 3.
Film Daily   29 Jan 45   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   2 May 44   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   26 May 44   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jun 44   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jan 45   p. 3, 8
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jan 45   p. 10.
Los Angeles Times   26 Sep 1945.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   8 Jul 44   p. 1983.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   27 Jan 45   p. 2289.
New York Times   27 Jan 45   p. 15.
New York Times   30 Sep 1945.   
Variety   31 Jan 45   p. 10.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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