AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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So Proudly We Hail!
Alternate Title: Hands of Mercy
Director: Mark Sandrich (Dir)
Release Date:   1943
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 9 Sep 1943
Production Date:   27 Nov 1942--29 Mar 1943
Duration (in mins):   124-126
Duration (in feet):   11,272
Duration (in reels):   13
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Cast:   Claudette Colbert (Lieut. Janet "Davey" Davidson)  
    Paulette Goddard (Lieut. Joan O'Doul)  
    Veronica Lake (Lieut. Olivia D'Arcy)  
    George Reeves (Lieut. John Sumners)  
    Barbara Britton (Lieut. Rosemary Larson)  
    Walter Abel (Chaplain)  
    Sonny Tufts (Kansas)  
    Mary Servoss (Capt. "Ma" McGregor)  
    Ted Hecht (Dr. Jose Bardia)  
    John Litel (Dr. Harrison)  
    Dr. Hugh Ho Chang (Ling Chee)  
    Mary Treen (Lieut. Sadie Schwartz)  
    Kitty Kelly (Lieut. Ethel Armstrong)  
    Helen Lynd (Lieut. Elsie Bollenbacher)  
    Lorna Gray (Lieut. Toni Bacelli)  
    Dorothy Adams (Lieut. Irma Emerson)  
    Ann Doran (Lieut. Betty Peterson)  
    Jean Willes (Lieut. Carol Johnson)  
    Lynn Walker (Lieut. Fay Leonard)  
    Joan Tours (Lieut. Margaret Stevenson)  
    Mimi Doyle (Nurse)  
    James Bell (Col. White)  
    Dick Hogan (Flight Lieut. Archie McGregor)  
    Jan Wiley (Lieut. Lynne Hopkins)  
    Bill Goodwin (Capt. O'Rourke)  
    James Flavin (Capt. O'Brien)  
    Byron Foulger (Mr. Larson)  
    Elsa Janssen (Mrs. Larson)  
    Richard Crane (Georgie Larson)  
    Boyd Davis (Col. Mason)  
    Will Wright (Col. Clark)  
    William Forrest (Major at San Francisco dock)  
    Isabel Cooper (Filipino nurse)  
    Amparo Antonorcruz (Filipino nurse)  
    Linda Brent (Filipino nurse)  
    James Millican (Young ensign)  
    Frederic Henry (Ensign)  
    Damian O'Flynn (Young doctor)  
    Michael Harvey (Young doctor)  
    Keith Richards (Young officer)  
    Edward Earle (Young doctor)  
    Victor Kilian Jr. (Corporal)  
    Roy Gordon (Ship's captain)  
    Frances Morris (Nurse)  
    Julia Faye (Nurse)  
    Hazel Keener (Nurse)  
    Fay Sappington (Thin nurse)  
    Byron Shores (Doctor)  
    Edward Emerson (Captain)  
    Hugh Prosser (Captain)  
    Segundo Diaz (Filipino child)  
    Joyce Chan (Filipino child)  
    Jack Luden (Steward)  
    Harry Strang (Major Arthur)  
    Edward Dow (Captain Lawrence)  
    Charles Lester (Soldier)  
    Yvonne DeCarlo    

Summary: On 5 May 1942, an Army plane bearing eight nurses previously stationed in the Philippines arrives in Melbourne, Australia. As the only known surviving nurses from the hard-hit Army base in Corregidor, the women relax for the first time in two years aboard an Army transport ship bound for the United States. During the cruise, a physician asks them to recount their arduous tour of duty so that he can ascertain how to bring their superior officer, Lieutenant Janet "Davey" Davidson, out of the severe emotional distress that has caused her complete silence. Lieut. Sadie Schwartz recalls the day in 1941 when the nurses under Davey's command met in San Francisco to board the Army transport ship that was to take them to Honolulu, Hawaii, for their two-year tour of duty: When Pearl Harbor is bombed on 7 Dec 1941 in a surprise attack by the Japanese, the United States declares war and the nurses' ship is rerouted to meet with a convoy of Army ships in the Pacific Ocean. One of the convoy ships is torpedoed and the survivors board the nurses's convoy. Among the survivors is Olivia D'Arcy, a nurse who seems so cold and unfeeling that she alienates Davey's nurses. Olivia soon has an altercation with her roommate, Joan O'Doul, a lovable flirt, and at Davey's urging, Olivia reveals the source of her misery: she watched her fiancé die at Pearl Harbor, and now has an abiding hatred of the Japanese. During their time aboard ship, Davey falls in love with a medic, Lieut. John Sumners, and Joan falls in love with Kansas, a handsome college football hero, whom she keeps at arm's length. With the war between the United States and Japan fully launched, the nurses are stationed at an army hospital in the Bataan Peninsula. Upon the arrival of Davey's nurses, the Bataan head nurse, Capt. "Ma" McGregor, immediately relieves her exhausted nurses, who have been tending front line soldiers. Olivia requests duty looking after the wounded Japanese prisoners, intenting to sabotage their care, but finds herself unable to kill them. When the camp is evacuated because of the enemy's approach, Davey's nurses are the last to leave and Joan runs back to her tent to retrieve the black nightgown she has worn every night to maintain her morale. The small delay results in the death of their escorts, and the nurses are forced to hide from the encroaching Japanese soldiers. The nurses are terrified of being captured and, realizing there is no other way out, Olivia grabs a grenade and marches into the hands of the enemy. Only at the last moment does she pull the pin, and the resulting explosion allows the other nurses to escape while grieving their friend's sacrifice. Their new makeshift base, known only as Hospital Kilometer 163.5, is an extremely primitive encampment in the jungle where the nurses care for about 8,000 wounded men. Malaria and dysentery run rife through the camp, but even the affected nurses continue to work. Davey and Joan are fortunate enough to see John and Kansas now and then, but after Ma's son dies from war wounds, Davey's commanding officer informs her that General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of the Allied forces in the Philippines, has left the island and that the expected convoy of supplies has been sunk. After a move to yet another base, Joan collapses from overwork, but soon rallies and overcomes her fatigue. The Japanese bomb and strafe the hospital, and many are killed or wounded, including nurse Rosemary Larson, who dies in a bombing attack while assisting surgeon Jose Bardia. Davey burns her hands during an unsuccessful attempt at saving the two from the burning building. Bataan is evacuated and the roads and waterways are jammed with evacuees headed for the harbor at Marivèles. By nightfall, after supervising surgery on John's wounded leg, Davey joins the confusion and boards a rowboat in a desperate escape to Corregidor. Finally reaching the underground base at Corregidor, the nurses continue to work under the duress of incessant air raids until their supplies run out. John joins a group headed for Mindanao to obtain supplies and, pressured by the constraints of a wartime romance, he and Davey break military rules by getting married. They spend their wedding night next to a gunmount by the bay, and at five in the morning, John departs on his mission. Several days later, the nurses under Davey's command are the first to be secretly evacuated from Corregidor. Davey resists going because she promised John she would meet him upon his return, but a bombing attack forces her departure, and she goes into shock. Although the eight nurses are evacuated safely, many more never return. The story finished, the doctor reads to Davey a letter from John, who reports that he is safe and that he continues to fight for the peace of all people. He encloses the deed to his American farm, where he promises to meet her at the close of the war. Roused by the knowledge that her husband is safe, Davey speaks his name. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Mark Sandrich (Dir)
  Joseph Youngerman (Asst dir)
  Clem Jones (2d asst dir)
  Phyllis Loughton (Dial dir)
Producer: B. G. DeSylva (Exec prod)
  Mark Sandrich (Prod)
Writer: Allan Scott (Wrt by)
Photography: Charles Lang Jr. (Dir of photog)
  Stuart Thompson (2d cam)
  E. Adams (Asst to 2d cam)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  Earl Hedrick (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ellsworth Hoagland (Ed)
Set Decoration: Sam Comer (Set dec supv)
  Steve Seymour (Set dec)
  Tom Plews (Props)
Costumes: Pat Williams (Men's ward)
  LeVaughn Larson (Women's ward)
Music: Miklos Rozsa (Mus score)
Sound: Harold Lewis (Sd rec)
  Walter Oberst (Sd rec)
Special Effects: Gordon Jennings (Spec photog eff)
  George Dutton (Spec photog eff)
  Farciot Edouart (Process photog)
Make Up: Wally Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Glen Alden (Makeup)
  Fay Chaney (Makeup staff)
  Leonora Sabine (Hair supv)
  Hedvig Mjorud (Hair)
  Peggy Higgins (Hair)
  LaVaughn Speer (Hair)
Production Misc: Colonel Thomas W. Doyle ([Tech adv])
  First Lieutenant Eunice Hatchitt ([Tech adv and contr wrt])
  Charles Woolstenhulme (Asst prod mgr)
  N. Lacey (Loc mgr)
  H. Brown (Asst unit mgr)
  Nesta Charles (Scr clerk)
  Dorothy Hughes (Scr clerk)
  Bernice Kenneth (Secretary to dir)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures, Inc. 22/6/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12582 Yes

PCA NO: 9026
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
 
Subjects (Major): Nurses, Military
  Romance
  Self-sacrifice
  United States. Army
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): Bombing, Aerial
  Bataan, Fall of, 1942
  Corregidor, Fall of, 1942
  Filipinos
  Fires
  Hospitals
  Merivèles Bay (Philippines)
  Marriage
  Mothers and sons
  Post-traumatic stress disorder
  Red Cross
  Ships
  War injuries

Note: The working title of the film was Hands of Mercy . The title So Proudly We Hail! was taken from a line in "The Star Spangled Banner," "...And so proudly we hail..." (lyrics by Francis Scott Key; music arranged by Thomas Carr). Mark Sandrich's credit reads "Produced and directed by...". The following appears onscreen in the opening credits: "We are grateful for the cooperation of The War Department, The Army Nurse Corps, The American Red Cross; And our special thanks to Colonel Thomas W. Doyle, U.S.A. Commanding Officer, Combat Team 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, on Bataan; and First Lieutenant Eunice Hatchitt, Army Nurse Corps of Bataan and Corregidor." The film opens with the following written prologue: "Out of the black sorrow and tragedy of Bataan and Corregidor came a light--the light of a miracle ! Eight American girls--Army nurses--had been delivered from that holocaust. The story that follows is inspired by their courage, devotion and sacrifice, and is based on the records of the U.S. Army Nursing Corps. We dedicate this picture to them and their comrades still somewhere in the Philippines, and to nurses everywhere."
       The United States lost control of Bataan to the Japanese on 9 Apr 1942, and approximately 75,000 soldiers and Filipinos were taken prisoner. (For more information on the fall of Bataan, see the above entry for Bataan .) The United States' forces were then ensconced in the Malinta Tunnels on Corregidor, which were dug by the U.S. Army. Following a severe bombardment on 29 Apr 1942, the Navy evacuated approximately 50 people, mostly female nurses. On 3 May 1942, a submarine evacuated twenty-five more personnel, including thirteen women. The troops at Corregidor were forced to surrender to the Japanese on 6 May 1942. Over 800 troops died in battle, and over one-third of the men who were captured died during their imprisonment.
       Information in the Paramount Script Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following information: The film was originally intended to open with footage from a 1 Jul 1942 Paramount News newsreel, in which the surviving Corregidor nurses were cited for heroism at a Washington, D.C. ceremony, followed by a salutory speech by Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Included in the footage was a series of closeups of the nurses and their names: Dorothea Daley, Harriet G. Lee, Mary G. Lohr, Florence McDonald, Juanita Redmond and Eunice Hatchitt. Lieutenant Hatchitt, who served over two years in the Philippines, was to begin the film proper with a short narrative recalling her release. This sequence was apparently abandoned, as was a trailer featuring Lieut. Hatchitt, which was shot on 14 Apr 1943, according to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library and the Records of the War Department at NARS. The trailer featured Hatchitt urging American women between the ages of 18 and 50 to join the Red Cross as a Volunteer Nurses' Aide or to train as a civilian nurse to assist returning wounded soldiers. She then closed the trailer with the following statement: "They say, and this I know to be true, 'The wounded don't cry,'--and this I also know, 'The wounded cannot wait,'--so, please, everyone, enlist now and help to bring this war to a quicker end."
       A 22 May 1943 letter from Paramount to the War Department Pictorial Branch of the Bureau of Public Relations notes that the trailer of Lieut. Hatchitt was removed because the filmmakers felt that "the picture itself is the greatest appeal for nurses possible, and that the sequences made on Lt. Hatchitt are anti-climactic." However, Paramount did plan to release the trailer nationwide through its Paramount News newsreels. Hatchitt served as a technical advisor on the picture and was credited in production files for story contribution. In addition, Hatchitt was hired by Paramount to help promote the film upon its release in Aug 1943. A HR news item noted that Paramount received the cooperation of Colonel Mason Wright, U.S. Army, Stuart Brown of the American Red Cross, and Lowell Mellett, head of the Film Co-ordination Group, during production.
       According to a HR news item, after Richard Crane replaced Elliott Reid in the role of "Georgie Larson," Reid was assigned the part of an aviator. Reid's appearance in the final film has not been confirmed, however. According to an article in Life , Paramount used photographs of Corregidor taken by Life correspondent Melville Jacoby to verify the authenticity of various details of army life depicted in the film. Some scenes were shot on location at the Salton Sea and Sherwood Forest, CA, and at Sherman Studios. This was the first picture in which Veronica Lake, renowned for her "peek-a-boo" hairstyle, wore her hair up to conform with her role as an Army nurse. While Life commented on the film's "authenticity and grim realism," and DV hailed it as "the first complete, deeply-etched drama of women on active fronts of the present war", The Nation reviewer wryly noted that, "This is probably the most deadly accurate picture that will ever be made of what war looks like through the lenses of a housewives' magazine romance."
       This film was selected by FD as one of the ten best pictures of 1943 and was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Supporting Actress, Paulette Goddard; Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Allan Scott; Best Cinematography (Black & White), Charles Lang; and Best Special Effects, Farciot Edouart, Gordon Jennings and George Dutton. Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, Veronica Lake and Sonny Tufts recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story broadcast on 1 Nov 1942. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   26 Jun 1943.   
Daily Variety   22 Jun 43   pp. 3-4.
Film Daily   22 Jun 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jul 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Aug 42   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Dec 42   p. 2, 4
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jun 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Sep 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Oct 43   p. 1.
Life   5 Oct 43   p. 69.
Motion Picture Herald   26 Jun 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   26 Jun 43   p. 1385.
New York Herald Tribune   12 Sep 1943.   
New York Times   10 Sep 43   p. 29.
Variety   23 Jun 43   p. 24.

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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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