Go for Broke
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Platform: DVD MOVIE Publisher: ALPHA VIDEO Packaging: DVD STYLE BOX A bigoted Texan Lieutenant Michael Grayson (Van Johnson) is assigned to command the U.S. 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Learning that the regiment is composed entirely of Japanese-American volunteers he immediately requests a transfer. Suspicious and distrustful of his troops the Lieutenant finds it hard to believe that "Japs" are fit to be American soldiers.Denied his transfer the unhappy commander and his regiment ship out to the raging battlefields of Europe. "Go For Broke" is the motto of the 442nd and the troops' daring and bravery under fire prove it to be well-deserved. Lt. Grayson's prejudices gradually turn to respect and admiration as his heroic subordinates aquit themselves with valor and a clear determination to go above and beyond the call of duty. Taking on heavy casualties in carrying out its missions the 442nd was one of the U.S. Army's most decorated infantry regiments during WWII. Many of the actual veterans of the celebrated fighting unit play themselves in Go For Broke. Appearing in more than 100 films during his long career Van Johnson became one of America's top war film heroes during the 1940s and 1950s. In addition to Go For Broke popular WWII-inspired movies include The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) Command Decision (1948) Battleground (1949) and the Oscar-nominated film The Caine Mutiny (1954) one of his most memorable starring roles. Starring: Van JohnsonDirected by: Robert Pirosh DVD Details: Run Time: 90 minutesNumber of Discs: 1Originally Released in 1951Black & WhiteNo region encoding; For global distribution.
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The movie follows the exploits of the 442, the first all-Nisei (Japanese- American) Regimental combat team in WWII. In early 1942, all the Japanese- Americans in California, Seattle, Oregon and Hawaii were uprooted from their homes and put into camps. All the volunteers were from the 10 internment camps throughout the western states. They felt that this was the only way to prove to the U. S. that they were as patriotic as anybody else, in fact most of them were American Citizens! Since they had nothing to lose, but their lives, their motto was "GO FOR BROKE!" and that's what they did. They are today the most decorated battalion in the history of the U.S. military and proved something that they shouldn't have to be proved, that they were Americans!
Van Johnson is used as the "white man" foil, to show how the rest of the country looked at the Japanese-American, and he does a great job. He starts off as a bigot, but as he begins to understand and respect his troops, he becomes one of them. There's a funny scene where one of his men call him "BAKATARE", which is a curse word close to "Damn, stupid...." and tells him that the soldier is being very polite, he's bowing as he says this. This film has everything: humor, action, great characters and... truth!
Anyone familiar with combat war movies will find the familiar in GO FOR BROKE! The unit goes from green and raw to tough and cohesive. They adopt a pet (a pig, in this case), distribute k-rations to the hungry citizens of liberated towns and cluster around for mail call. The difference is that children seem a little fearful of the foreign looking foreigners, and many of the letters from home are written from internment camps. The movie dedicates itself to proving the regiment's prowess as soldiers and showing how Grayson's prejudice slowly erodes as his respect for his men grow.
GO FOR BROKE! opens with an except from a proclamation from President Roosevelt announcing the formation of the 442nd - "Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry." Featuring many 442nd veterans in the movie it has a layer of reality that most war movies lack, and it doesn't flinch from displaying the bitterness felt by some of the soldiers. In many ways it's similar to the Civil War movie GLORY, the movie about the Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington. The production values aren't as high in this one, although the combat sequences are well done, and the acting talents isn't nearly of the caliber of GLORY, but GO FOR BROKE! touches the same themes, and GLORY can't touch the verisimilitude GO FOR BROKE! and its army veteran actors achieve. The Pro-Active dvd I'm reviewing is a bit washed out but otherwise in good shape. There's no extras on the disk, but it's so inexpensive extras might have made me feel guilty. Highly recommended, especially for war movie fans.
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