The Film (3/5)
In 1945 Burma, Canadian pilot Bill Forrester (Gregory Peck) is haunted by the death of his wife. He has accepted a mission in Burma with the Royal Air Force, and prays for his death. With the help of Dr. Harris (Bernard Lee), Forrester slowly starts to enjoy life again and even finds a new sweet heart named Anna (Win Min Than). Tragedy strikes when a simple flight is stopped by an oil leak and Forrester’s plane crash lands in the wilderness. Now stuck in the desert with the threat of being captured by the Japanese, Forrester, His Navigator (Lyndon Brook), and A flight lieutenant (Maurice Denham) must journey back on foot home. With someone in his life finally worth living for again, Forrester makes the ultimate journey for survival.
World War 2 dramas have been a big part of Hollywood since the end of that very war. They mix the right amount of nostalgia, national pride, Adventure, suspense, and pure entertainment. I’ve personally always enjoyed WW2 movies and Dramas, and I’m always happy to explore the almost never ending supply of them that seem to be available. Gregory Peck is the perfect man to make a movie like this. With the likes of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Cary Grant you know you’re going to get an interesting war picture with actors like these. But what makes Purple Plain interesting, is how small it really is.
Based on the 1947 novel of the same name by H.E. Bates, Purple Plain tells a small personal story about a man who learns to live again and the challenges he faces to prove this. The movie is very simple in this way. The opening act is really good with some odd scenes of intensity such as Peck watching as a little girl tortures a lizard and his opening nightmare. The heart of the movie is actually in the interplay between its characters. Bernard Lee and Peck really do have a good chemistry together and it’s a shame Lee isn’t in much of the movie after the plane crash. Peck and Min Than’s relationship is natural and believable. The biggest weakness with the film is actually Maurice Denham. His character is so annoying and cartoonish that you can’t wait for him to leave the movie. After having a solid 45 minutes of good character interaction to suddenly switch to this unlikeable man just slows down the drama.
While not a lost classic, The Purple Plain is a quiet and studied little character piece. Peck is really good in the picture. Bernard Lee shines in a smaller part that is miles away different then his most famous role as M in the early James Bond 007 movies. Worth a look for curious World War 2 movie fans.
The Disc comes with one main audio option. 2.0 Master Audio DTS-HD English. The track is clear with no bumps or hiss. The track is well mixed with the soundtrack never out shadowing the rest of the audio and sound effects. The 1080p HD picture is mostly outstanding. Due to the quality of the film some scenes and shots are pretty rough around the edges. Stock footage is a little foggy. Most of the picture is actually filled with detail. Some of the best examples is the close-ups of the actors where you can count the drops of sweat on their faces.
The only extras we get are trailers for On the Beach, The Wonderful Country, and Billy Two Hats.
Kino Lorber gives a decent release to this dramatic WW2 movie. Near perfect transfer and a good role for Gregory Peck make this worth a look for old school war movie fans. Recommended.