Battle Circus (1953)

89-90 mins | Drama | 6 March 1953

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writer:

Richard Brooks

Producer:

Pandro S. Berman

Cinematographer:

John Alton

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, James Basevi

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was MASH 66 . The order of names in the opening cast credits differs slightly from the order of the end credits. According to a LAEx news item, the film's title refers to the ability of mobile field hospital units to dismantle and set up their giant tents as quickly as circuses. An article in HCN adds that technical advisor Col. K. E. Van Buskirk had commanded one of the first MASH units in Korea. Portions of the film were shot on location in Calabasas, CA, and Camp Pickett, VA. A NYT news item states that Camp Pickett was chosen because it was actually a training site for MASH units, and could make helicopters available for the production.
       The experiences of medical personnel working at the front lines in the Korean War were also the basis for the unrelated 1970 film M*A*S*H (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ) and the popular television series of the same name, which ran on the CBS network from ... More Less

The working title of this film was MASH 66 . The order of names in the opening cast credits differs slightly from the order of the end credits. According to a LAEx news item, the film's title refers to the ability of mobile field hospital units to dismantle and set up their giant tents as quickly as circuses. An article in HCN adds that technical advisor Col. K. E. Van Buskirk had commanded one of the first MASH units in Korea. Portions of the film were shot on location in Calabasas, CA, and Camp Pickett, VA. A NYT news item states that Camp Pickett was chosen because it was actually a training site for MASH units, and could make helicopters available for the production.
       The experiences of medical personnel working at the front lines in the Korean War were also the basis for the unrelated 1970 film M*A*S*H (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ) and the popular television series of the same name, which ran on the CBS network from 1972-83. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 Jan 1953.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Feb 53
p. 8.
Hollywood Citizen-News
6 Oct 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 52
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 52
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 53
p. 4.
Los Angeles Examiner
7 Mar 1953.
---
Motion Picture Daily
27 Jan 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald
31 Jan 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 Jan 53
p. 1701.
New York Times
3 Aug 1952.
---
New York Times
28 May 53
p. 27.
Variety
28 Jan 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Unit mgr
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
MASH 66
Release Date:
6 March 1953
Production Date:
21 July--9 September 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 January 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2290
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89-90
Length(in feet):
8,020
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16175
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

At a mobile Army surgical hospital in war-torn South Korea, nurse Lt. Ruth McCara, who has just transferred in from Tokyo, reports for duty moments before a bombing raid. While risking her life trying to move wounded soldiers, Ruth is intercepted by Maj. Jed Webbe, the wry, pragmatic chief surgeon. The unit is ordered to move to a new location that night, and when Ruth sees the tents come down, she naively assumes that the war must be over. The other nurses wearily begin packing and explain that the hospital moves when the front lines do, adding that they have moved seven times in the last few weeks. Later, during the evacuation, Jed makes a pass at Ruth, but she rebuffs him good-naturedly. At the new site, the company sets up the camp with great speed and efficiency, and Jed resumes his campaign to win Ruth over. Later, while giving inoculations to South Korean refugees, Ruth finds a child who has been badly wounded by shrapnel. Jed operates, and when the boy's heart stops, performs open-heart massage and saves him. Jed's skill impresses Ruth and she begins to warm to him, but informs the amorous doctor that she will only consider a serious relationship that leads to marriage. Although Jed shows no interest in settling down, Ruth soon falls in love with him, and is crestfallen when another nurse jealously speculates that Jed may already be married. Ruth tries to question Jed about his civilian life, but he refuses to tell her anything. Later that night, as fierce winds whip through the camp, Jed learns that helicopter pilot John Rustford, who is delivering ... +


At a mobile Army surgical hospital in war-torn South Korea, nurse Lt. Ruth McCara, who has just transferred in from Tokyo, reports for duty moments before a bombing raid. While risking her life trying to move wounded soldiers, Ruth is intercepted by Maj. Jed Webbe, the wry, pragmatic chief surgeon. The unit is ordered to move to a new location that night, and when Ruth sees the tents come down, she naively assumes that the war must be over. The other nurses wearily begin packing and explain that the hospital moves when the front lines do, adding that they have moved seven times in the last few weeks. Later, during the evacuation, Jed makes a pass at Ruth, but she rebuffs him good-naturedly. At the new site, the company sets up the camp with great speed and efficiency, and Jed resumes his campaign to win Ruth over. Later, while giving inoculations to South Korean refugees, Ruth finds a child who has been badly wounded by shrapnel. Jed operates, and when the boy's heart stops, performs open-heart massage and saves him. Jed's skill impresses Ruth and she begins to warm to him, but informs the amorous doctor that she will only consider a serious relationship that leads to marriage. Although Jed shows no interest in settling down, Ruth soon falls in love with him, and is crestfallen when another nurse jealously speculates that Jed may already be married. Ruth tries to question Jed about his civilian life, but he refuses to tell her anything. Later that night, as fierce winds whip through the camp, Jed learns that helicopter pilot John Rustford, who is delivering much-needed blood to the unit, has left the air base without enough fuel. He sets up an improvised landing strip some distance from camp, and John and the blood arrive safely. Jed celebrates by getting drunk in his tent, and Lt. Col. Hillary Whalters, the unit commander, is outraged. The next morning, Whalters tells Jed he must swear to abstain from alcohol, threatening to court-martial him if he gets drunk again. Ruth asks Whalters for a transfer to another unit, but Whalters, aware of Ruth's feelings for Jed, advises her to adopt more aggressive tactics instead. That night, Ruth takes Jed for a drive, and he tells her that he was married but his wife left him for another man. Later, at the hospital, a group of wounded North Korean prisoners are brought in, and one becomes hysterical with fear and produces a concealed grenade. Stifling her own terror, Ruth speaks soothingly to the man and manages to disarm him. The next day, the unit has just received evacuation orders when the camp is bombed, and both Whalters and Ruth are injured. With no time to pack up the tents, Jed and his men set fire to them, then form a convoy to transport the patients to the base hospital. Jed bids Ruth goodbye, promising to find her again, and sets out on the perilous mission. When guerrilla attacks close the road, Jed orders his men to unload the patients, drive each vehicle down the side of the steep hill and carry the wounded downhill in their arms. Finally, the arduous task is completed, and when the weary cavalcade reaches the nurses on the side of the road, Ruth and Jed are joyfully reunited. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.