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A blinded Canadian flier has to find his way through World War II Burma.
In 1945 in Burma, Royal Air Force flight commander Forrester struggles continually with nightmares about being trapped on the ground during an air raid bombing. Although Forrester frequently takes brazen chances during his missions, they are nevertheless always successful. Despite numerous commendations for bravery, Forrester remains a loner with a reputation among the other pilots and mechanics as being dangerously unstable. When his navigator is wounded when Forrester disobeys orders and destroys an enemy gun battery, his commanding officer, Aldridge, decides to transfer him. Dr. Harris, who is puzzled by but also fascinated with the edgy Forrester, reminds Aldridge that the Canadian Forrester volunteered long ago during the Battle of Britain and has proved himself over the years a capable pilot. Aldridge agrees to refrain from taking action until Harris can speak with Forrester. Meanwhile in his tent, Forrester finds himself distracted and aggravated by his fastidious tent-mate, Blore, who is writing his daily letter home. When Blore chastises Forrester for his recklessness, suggesting that Forrester would behave more responsibly if he had a wife and family, Forrester recalls that at the beginning of the war, his wife was killed on their wedding night during an air raid attack on London. Later that afternoon, Harris invites Forrester to visit a nearby Burmese Christian mission where the doctor introduces him to Dorothy and her younger sister Anna. The beautiful but reserved Anna has left Rangoon University to help her sister run a school for the local children and provide medical assistance to the military and civilian war victims. While Harris and Dorothy visit the dispensary, Forrester, attracted by Anna's sensitive demeanor, agrees to accompany her into the village to examine Burma's famed precious stones. Returning to camp, Forrester is annoyed to learn that the top two mechanics have been given their discharge papers, hindering his ability to make the next mission. Blore then introduces Forrester to new navigator, Carrington, who will share their tent. That evening, Harris invites Forrester to return to the mission to dine and, although reluctant, Forrester consents. Pleased to see Anna again, Forrester then meets the head of the mission, Scottish native Miss McNab and the minister, Mr. Phang. Dinner is interrupted when Japanese planes drops bombs in attempt to damage the military airstrip. The nearby village is nearly destroyed in the attack, although the mission house suffers only minor damage. Hurrying to safety with Anna, Forrester panics when it appears Anna has been struck by a falling tree, but she is unhurt. Later while helping the wounded, Anna is caught up in a panicked rush by the villagers, and Forrester rescues her. The next day, Forrester returns to the mission where Anna asks to speak with him privately and presents him with a ruby, which he hesitatingly accepts. Forrester then tells Anna about his wife's death and confesses that since then, he has lived recklessly, hoping to die. Forrester admits that since meeting Anna he wants to live and now considers Burma his home. At camp, Aldridge assigns Forrester and Carrington to try out a new plane by flying Blore to his new base, a few hours away. During the flight, over Japanese-held mountainous territory, the starboard engine abruptly begins leaking oil, then bursts into flames. Unable to extinguish the fire, Forrester sends out a distress call and crash-lands the craft in a dry river bed. Hurrying out of the burning plane, Carrington slides down the fuselage, receiving severe leg burns from the overheated oil. Forrester and Blore exit unharmed and pull Carrington to safety before the airplane explodes. After providing Carrington with morphine and as much medical help as their limited supplies allow, Forrester estimates that the main river is thirty miles away and as soon as the night brings cooler temperatures, they must make their way there. Blore protests, insisting that the distress call will prompt an immediate rescue mission, but Forrester reminds him they are deep within enemy territory. Despite Blore's protests, Forrester constructs a stretcher for Carrington and at nightfall, the men set off over treacherous terrain toward the jungle. Stumbling over the uneven ground, Blore chastises Forrester who strings together a cloth rope to aid in lowering Carrington's stretcher down the steep hills. After Blore accidentally slides down a precipice and breaks his collarbone, he insists their efforts are futile and they should give up and shoot themselves. Meanwhile, back at camp, search planes report no sign of the missing craft and Aldridge confides in Harris that he cannot risk sending a foot patrol so far into enemy territory. Harris sadly goes to the mission to report Forrester's disappearance. Ascertaining that Forrester took no unusual risks in accepting the assignment, Anna tells Harris the pilot may yet return. The next day, Forrester tells Blore that one of them must make an attempt to reach the river while the other remains with Carrington. Blore criticizes Forrester for taking them from the crash site and accuses him of envying him his family, but Forrester ignores Blore's condemnation and goes to sleep. When he awakens later, Forrester finds Blore missing and tells Carrington he believes that Blore has headed back to the plane and sets off to retrieve him. Laboring in the heat with most of his water ration gone, Blore grows more desperate, suspecting that he may be lost. After falling and losing the remaining water, Blore shoots himself. The shot attracts Forrester who finds Blore's body and sadly takes his identity tags, wallet and the pistol before returning to Carrington. At nightfall, Forrester tells Carrington they must get to the river and despite the navigator's protests, picks him up and carries him. Hours later, Forrester tries to rest and inadvertently drops Carrington. Realizing he cannot proceed with his navigator, Forrester leaves Carrington the remaining water and the pistol and vows to return with help. After walking throughout the night and following day in bitter heat, Forrester reaches the river and is rescued by Burmese bearers. At camp, Harris tells the relieved Miss McNab of Forrester and Carrington's rescue. When Forrester and Carrington are flown back to the camp, Harris picks up the pilot, who insists on going to the mission. After greeting Miss McNab, Forrester finds Anna sleeping and lies down to rest beside her.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||London opening: 14 Sep 1954|
|Release Date:||1955||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Two Cities Film, Ltd., J. Arthur Rank Organisation|
|Duration(mins):||100||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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Perfect Blend of Romance & Adventure
Simon Gillham 2012-06-25
My favorite movie of all time. The Purple Plain features a tasteful romance as well as an unexpected adventure set on the harsh purple plain of Burma...
The Purple Plain
This is a very good movie. It takes place in WWII Burma. Peck is a pilot whose plane crashes in Japanese occupied territory. He has to make his way back...