Jungle Patrol (1948)
Director: Joseph M. Newman.
Starring: Kristine Miller (Jean Gillis), Arthur Franz (Lt. 'Mace' Willard), Ross Ford (Maj. Skipper Wright), Tommy Noonan (Lt. 'Ham' Hamilton), Gene Reynolds (Lt. Marion Minor), Richard Jaeckel (Lt. Dick Carter), Mickey Knox (Lt. Louie Rasti), Harry Lauter (Lt. Derby), William Murphy (Lt. Johnny Murphy), G. Pat Collins (Sgt. Hanley).
the US air force and the fighting in New Guinea 1943
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
In the fall of 1942 the Japanese were less than 30 miles from the base at Port Moresby, New Guinea. (Located on the Gulf of Papua on the southeastern peninsula.) The base there was surrounded by only a few airstrips with no more than eight airplanes. They intercepted Japanese flights that threatened Australia. The scoreboard designed by Sgt. Hanley of the mess hall shows Japanese bombers destroyed 54, Japanese fighters destroyed 55, and 0 American planes shot down. The guys don't really like the sign. They believe it's better not to talk about it.
The commanding officer Major Skipper Wright comes in and tells Sgt. Hanley to put that sign away. A phone call comes in and everyone has to scramble. A supply plane is coming in at this time. The Major says: "Have radio tell him to stay clear until the boys get off." There are a number of Japanese airplanes headed for Australia. Lt. Dick Carter tells Lt. 'Mace' Willard that they have just been scraping by in so many close situations.
A pretty woman comes in. The men are a bit shocked. She came in on the supply ship. Her named is Jean Gillis. She is part of an entertainment group. She says they will be putting on a show for the guys. Lt. Louie Rasti says the he hasn't seen a woman for six months. The guys listen to the action in the sky over the radio. Lt. 'Ham' Hamilton does not report. He appears to be a goner. But all of a sudden he reports in. He says he got lost in a cloud.
The incoming pilots are very happy to see Jean. They give her a lot of attention. The Skipper comes in and meets Jean. Jean serves coffee to the fellows. She sees the score board and again the guys get down in spirit. Some of the guys think the board may be a jinx. She asks: "Aren't you proud of it?" The Skipper says: "Of course, we are, but nobody's that good." They have lost some "ships" but none of them were theirs. Jean and some of the men work on putting up a stage.
Skipper gets a message that the rest of Jean's troupe were grounded. So Jean says she will sing for the men by herself. She does so and then she dances with the men, one at a time. The fly boys take her over to their headquarters and they all have some champagne. Jean says she was married but her husband was killed at Dunkirk. They turn the radio on to listen to Tokyo Rose. A little later they have Jean sing a tune called "Forever and Always". She sings the song a little too well and the men start thinking of their loves ones at home. The men say good-night to Jean.
The Skipper walks Jean to her quarters. Haven't you ever loved a girl? asks Jean. He says he never seemed to have the time. Jean asks him if he gets scared when he goes up to fight the Japanese. He says he does get scared. Jean says: "I'm scared too, Skipper." He says, he knows. She asks him to tell her how his plane works. Their faces get closer and closer as Skipper explains the details until they kiss.
The next day the scout planes go out again. Jean comes into the mess hall/headquarters. She talks with Lt. Marion Minor. Jean asks him what his wife talks about in her letters? He says she talks about things that happen to the people around her. She gets him to talk about what his wife is like? He says he can hardly remember what his wife looks like, it was so quick before he had to leave for the war. The phone rings again and it looks like a lot of Japanese planes are on their way. The guys have to scramble. That leaves Mace and Jean together again. Mace turns on the radio. Jean says they are sending a plane out for her this afternoon. Mace asks Jean if she would call his mother when she gets back to the States? Jean says she will. Mace says he knows that Jean loves Skipper, and, apparently, Skipper loves Jean.
Hanley comes over to listen to the dogfights. Jean asks if she could go over to Operations. Mace goes with her. Skipper is there. Skipper asks Mace to take over. Skipper is going up because they need help up there. Jean and Skipper kiss. Jean asks Mace to describe Skipper. Mace says Skipper's a really swell guy. Jean is afraid for the Major. She says she already lost one man and she doesn't think she can go through it again. Orders come in. Japanese bombers are coming into the area. One pilot says: "Skipper, they got Johnny."
There are just too many Japanese planes in the sky. Mace is going up because they need him. Hanley wishes him good luck. Jean asks Hanley if they have a chance? He says there's always a chance. After awhile, almost all of the planes have been shot down. Lt. Mace tells Skipper that he is on his way to help him. Mace says he can't find Skipper. Skipper lands his plane. He gets on the radio to Mace and tells him to land immediately. Mace, however, continues the fight and goes down.
The Japanese bombers are free to drop their bombs. Skipper is mad that they couldn't stop them, but Jean tells him that he did his best. The airstrip is bombed. The mess hall is hit. The narrator says: "These boys did more than their best. Their's is the spirit that led to victory."
Very poor movie. Thank goodness it was a very short film. This is not even a B movie. We'll says it's a C movie. It probably didn't cost much to make. There were no battle scenes, only scenes of planes taking off to go fight. I thought the film would tell us some information about the work of the American army under MacArthur in the Pacific area. (We usually only hear about the actions of the US Marines in the Pacific.) No such luck. There is no real history here. There were a couple of actors I recognized: Tommy Noonan and Richard Jaeckel. Kristine Miller as the only woman did a pretty good job considering she didn't have much to work with.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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