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The Purple Plain
The Purple Plain
Actors: Gregory Peck, Win Min Than, Brenda De Banzie, Bernard Lee, Maurice Denham
Director: Robert Parrish
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
NR     2005     1hr 40min

Academy AwardÂ(r)-winner* Gregory Peck gives a "commanding and convincing" (Citizen-News) performance in "exotic" (Mirror-News) World War II drama. An "engrossing" (Citizen-News) and "visually alluring" (LA Examiner) film ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Gregory Peck, Win Min Than, Brenda De Banzie, Bernard Lee, Maurice Denham
Director: Robert Parrish
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/19/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Self-Redemption in Burma
peterfromkanata | Kanata, Ontario Canada | 05/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"While Gregory Peck heads the cast, "The Purple Plain" is a British World War II film, produced in 1954 by the J. Arthur Rank Studios (and presumably distributed by MGM). So far reviews seem to fall into two camps--people who love it and people who are unimpressed with it. I find myself somewhere between these two extremes. Unlike at least one other reviewer, I will try not to reveal too much of the plot for first-time viewers.

Mr. Peck plays Squadron Leader Bill Forrester, a Canadian pilot and veteran of the Battle of Britain, now assigned to the Asian theatre of the war, specifically Burma, against the Japanese. Having lost his young wife in the London blitz, Forrester feels he has nothing to live for, and flies his Mosquito missions accordingly. He is reckless, even suicidal, much to the chagrin of his navigator as well as the people on the ground.

The kind Dr. Harris (a "pre-M" Bernard Lee) tries to help Forrester out of his depression by involving him with some of the local Burmese people, including a lovely young woman, Anna (Win Min Than). Forrester becomes captivated with Anna, and slowly regains his self respect and will to live. His survival instincts are soon put to the test. On the next flight, his plane crashes in very harsh, and Japanese-held, territory. Forrester survives the crash along with his young navigator
(Lyndon Brook), who receives nasty burns, and an older scientist, Blore (Maurice Denham). With limited water, and the blazing Burmese sun, the three men face a harsh fate, with a questionable chance of survival. Can Forrester return to the woman who has rekindled his interest in life, and redeem a tattered reputation with his compatriots ?

Mr. Peck delivers a compelling performance--he remains one of the most watchable actors in movies. I should also mention that fine British character actress, Brenda De Banzie--her role is small, but she leaves an indelible impression as Miss McNabb, the indefatigable Scottish missionary.

The full-screen picture exhibits effective colour--the sound is mono--don't look for extras.

"The Purple Plain" may not be one of Gregory Peck's most famous films--nor can it be considered one of the classic films of the fifties. At the same time, I found it an absorbing drama, well-acted by Mr. Peck, Ms. Than and a fine British cast--there is action, romance, suspense and important, universal themes are explored. I am pleased to add this DVD to my collection.

A Beautifully Filmed, Exceptional Movie
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 05/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

""I wanted to die but I got medals instead." This is squadron leader Bill Forrester (Gregory Peck), a mosquito fighter-bomber pilot stationed at a makeshift airbase in Burma during WWII. Forrester had met a young woman in London, they'd fallen in love and married, and on the evening of their marriage she was killed in a German air raid. Now he impassively takes enormous risks, sometimes endangering others. He really does want to die. Forrester meets a young Burmese woman, Anna (Win Min Than), and gradually begins to realize that death isn't the best future he can imagine. He's assigned to fly to another base carrying a passenger, but the mosquito crashes and he, his navigator and the passenger are stranded in Japanese territory in the middle of the Burmese desert, a desolate place of sun-burnt rock and scrub, with almost no water. His navigator is seriously injured and the passenger slowly just gives up and shoots himself. Forrester finds himself determined to carry the navigator thirty miles to the nearest river where they have a chance of rescue.

It's hard to give a sense of this movie. The story line is relatively simple and can be described by what it is not. It's not a war story. It's not a simple romance. It's not just the story of a man who finds his way back from tragedy. The atmosphere of the movie -- at times a kind of dreamy quality, drenched with color and filmed in some unreal and spectacular scenery -- keeps the story both engrossing and understated. The end of the movie, when Forrester finds his way back to Anna, is one of the most delicately filmed scenes of emotional commitment I've ever seen.

This is an unusual and first-class movie. According to IMDB, this is the only movie Win Min Than ever made. She is a combination of beauty and shyness that makes Forrester's awakening entirely believable. The secondary characters are handled exceptionally well. The Scots missionary with whom Anna and many refugee children live is played by Brenda De Banzie, an outstanding British actress. If you have a chance, watch her in Hobson's Choice. The doctor who befriends Forrester is played by Bernard Lee, another accomplished Brit. The DVD Technicolor transfer is outstanding."
'Per Ardua Ad Astra'
Philip Giles | United Kingdom | 05/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In this enjoyable wartime yarn (set in WWII Burma) the Royal Canadian Air Force would have been proud of Gregory Peck as the angry, deeply troubled pilot who literally battles 'through adversity to reach the stars' (or in this case star - the enchanting Anna played by actress Win Min Than). Peck as Forrester is haunted by the loss of his wife killed during a German bombing raid on London. Through a series of nighmares, flashbacks and some atmospheric use of sound while Peck lays soaked with perspiration in his tiny tent, Director Robert Parrish brings the H E Bates novel and Eric Ambler's screenplay to life.

Memorable performances from British screen stalwarts Maurice Denham (Blore), Bernard Lee (Dr Harris)and Lyndon Brook (Carrington)together with Ambler's racey pacey script keeps audiences guessing to the end. Brenda De Banzie's wonderful performance as missionary 'Miss McNab' and Win Min Than as the beautiful, gentle 'Anna' are just what the doctor ordered for the brooding Forrester as he battles behind Japanese lines when his Mosiquito fighter-bomber crashes on a routine mission.

Released in 1954, when the British War movie genre was in full flow, Parrish manages moments of Hitchcock in a taut psychological drama of Peck against the elements driven by duty, personal pride and the beautiful Anna who waits anxiously in a Burmese village. It might not be a classic (whatever that might be) but The Purple Plain nevertheless captivates and entertains through tragedy, love and action-packed drama. Well done Greg! And well done cast, crew and writers! Chocks away chaps!"
12 O'Clock High Goes Burmese
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 03/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Purple Plain is a winner, a handsomely mounted WW2 drama set in Burma where the Japanese are never seen: the enemy is the hostile landscape and the memories that cripple its hero. Gregory Peck's damaged pilot is still suffering from a bad case of 12 O'Clock High after the death of his wife in an air raid on their wedding night until he falls for Burmese girl Win Min Tan. (This being 1954, they may share an inter-racial romance, but they never actually kiss.) Naturally, as soon as he rediscovers a reason for living he's shot down behind enemy lines and has to make it back with not one but two crippled comrades. It's not much of a plot, true, but it's handled extremely well thanks to Robert Parrish's direction, which is surprisingly strong, direct and imaginative when called for, but still knows when to be unobtrusive as well. Great last shot too."