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Objective, Burma!

Objective, Burma!(1945)

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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."
       Hollywood Reporter 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 Los Angeles Examiner 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 January 2, 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 December 22, 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 New York Times 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.