Purple Plain, The (1954)

The Purple Plain (1954), directed by Robert Parrish.

During sweaty jungle days in Burma, pilot Gregory Peck is terrifying his crew-mates with his suicidal don't-give-a-damn courage. Having lost his wife (on their wedding day!) in a London air raid, he has no reason to live. Wouldn't you know it: just as another young woman begins bringing him back to life he crashes behind enemy lines and has a desperate, nearly hopeless survival trek back to the base.

Oddly enough, we see no Japanese enemy in the film, although the village is bombed from the air. The plane is downed by an engine fire.

Peck is supposed to be Canadian, which is how we get an American actor in the RAF. I don't know of a more reliable actor of that era, intense, thoughtful and soulful without going over the top.

Win Min Than is from Burma; this is her only film credit. Her closeups seem filtered, common then to give a more feminine look.

With affable Bernard Lee, omnipresent in military and police films of those decades. He was "M" in eleven Bond films.

Photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth, with remarkable camera work for that year. Many frantic hand-held and point of view shots, with close-ups that put us in the mind of the characters. When Peck falls asleep it is as if we ourselves experience missing time.

The flying and bombing effects are rudimentary. Filmed in Ceylon.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. The image is generally soft and we have a lot of print damage in the form of colored spots and sparkles.