Errol Flynn takes a break from the shoot - 58kb
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Errol Flynn Filmography

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Images OB-12
and OB-29
Derek Dubery

Objective, Burma!

This film has unfortunately been overlooked when classic films from WWII are brought up. No doubt this is in part due to Flynn's public image at the time: a performer who appeared to be a reckless womaniser and wasn't serious about his work. Also by then, Flynn had become a laughing stock for seemingly singlehandedly saving the Allies in too many movies without actually having served (the public was largely unaware of his 4F rating), something which curiously had no ill affects on other major stars who didn't serve except on the screen.

Further problems ensued when OB was released in the UK shortly after the war. The glorification of the United States' role in the Burma campaign, with no mention of Great Britain's significant contribution, brought such resentment over the film and its star that OBJECTIVE, BURMA! was taken out of circulation; the film was finally released in Great Britain in 1952 with a revised introduction which acknowledged GB's role.

Nelson (Flynn) examines reconnaisance photographs of his team's drop-off coordinates.
Nelson (Flynn) examines reconnaisance photographs of his team's
drop-off coordinates.

Major Nelson (Flynn) leads a team of paratroopers into the Burmese jungle to destroy a Japanese communications outpost. When the rendezvous with the plane for the return flight goes wrong, the men are forced to trudge through the jungle to another rendezvous point. The team splits up into two units, one of which meets their end in a deserted village. Having made it to the meeting place, the surviving soldiers are ambushed by a pursuing Japanese unit, and are therefore forced to retreat into the jungle and attempt to make it back to base on foot.

Coming along for the ride is reporter (Henry Hull), who obviously gets more than he bargained for, as the men travel through brush and swamp, dodge enemy processions and disease.

Do they make it? I won't tell, because part of the thing about watching OBJECTIVE, BURMA! for the first time is the suspense of the paratroopers, and how they overcome complications while achieving their directive. There are some moments when you might actually find yourself not breathing.

Hennessey & Nelson tend to the wounded while Williams takes notes - 109kb
Capt. Hennessey (Hugh Beaumont) and Major Nelson (Flynn) tend to
a wounded soldier while a reporter (Henry Hull, right) takes notes.

OBJECTIVE: BURMA! is an excellent film. Its low key acting and realistic approach are both impressive and engaging. Much of this is to the credit to director Raoul Walsh and cinematographer James Wong Howe. Franz Waxman (Gentleman Jim) composed a perfect score. I would say the movie's one drawback is the cartoony depiction of Japanese by people who were most definitely not Japanese.

This film is available from MGM/UA, and comes highly recommended by just about anyone who has seen it. In fact, many regard it to be their favourite Flynn wartime movie, some their alltime favourite Flynn film altogether. If war movies aren't your genre, then consider renting it, but don't pass up a chance to see this.

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