Back to Bataan (1945)

95 or 97 mins | Drama | 1945

Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Invisible Army . The opening credits include film clips of actual prisoners-of-war freed from the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan on 30 Jan 1945. An onscreen prologue states, "This story was not invented. The events you are about to see are based on actual incidents. The characters are based on real people..." A HR news item adds that Col. George S. Clarke, the film's technical advisor, was the commander of the U.S. Infantry Philippine Scouts. According to materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections, a draft of the script dated 10 Sep 1944 originally ended with the American officer "Madden" leading an attack against the Japanese. According to a news item in the LA Daily News , John Wayne, who played "Madden," and producer Robert Fellows opposed making the American officer the hero, arguing that a Filipino character should be the film's hero. The Daily News article and a news item in HR note that the film was nearing completion in 1944 when the Americans landed on the island of Leyte to launch their invasion of the Philippines and defeat the Japanese. At that time, RKO decided to change the film's ending to coincide with current events. The Daily News states that the studio hired Ben Barzman to write the new ending in which the Filipino officer, "Capt. Bonifacio," experiences a renewal of his faith on the beach at Leyte and leads his forces to victory. Barzman, however, is not credited in any of the manuscripts ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Invisible Army . The opening credits include film clips of actual prisoners-of-war freed from the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan on 30 Jan 1945. An onscreen prologue states, "This story was not invented. The events you are about to see are based on actual incidents. The characters are based on real people..." A HR news item adds that Col. George S. Clarke, the film's technical advisor, was the commander of the U.S. Infantry Philippine Scouts. According to materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections, a draft of the script dated 10 Sep 1944 originally ended with the American officer "Madden" leading an attack against the Japanese. According to a news item in the LA Daily News , John Wayne, who played "Madden," and producer Robert Fellows opposed making the American officer the hero, arguing that a Filipino character should be the film's hero. The Daily News article and a news item in HR note that the film was nearing completion in 1944 when the Americans landed on the island of Leyte to launch their invasion of the Philippines and defeat the Japanese. At that time, RKO decided to change the film's ending to coincide with current events. The Daily News states that the studio hired Ben Barzman to write the new ending in which the Filipino officer, "Capt. Bonifacio," experiences a renewal of his faith on the beach at Leyte and leads his forces to victory. Barzman, however, is not credited in any of the manuscripts contained in the RKO Archive Script Files. Although a HR production chart adds Robert Stevens to the cast, his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Another news item in HR notes that some of the location scenes were filmed at the Baldwin Estate near Santa Anita, CA. Anthony Quinn was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox to appear in this picture. According to a news item in HCN , the proceeds from the Los Angeles premiere were donated to a special war fund. This picture was unrelated to the 1943 M-G-M film Bataan (See Entry). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Jun 1945.
---
Daily Variety
29 May 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 May 45
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
16 Jul 1945.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 44
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 45
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 45
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 45
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 45
p. 8.
Los Angeles Daily News
16 Feb 1945.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Dec 44
p. 2242.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Jun 45
p. 2477.
New York Times
13 Sep 45
p. 26.
Variety
30 May 45
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Invisible Army
Premiere Information:
Boston and Honolulu premiere: 25 June 1945
Production Date:
6 November 1944--early March 1945
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
25 June 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13629
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95 or 97
Length(in feet):
8,496 , 8,505
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10576
SYNOPSIS

On 30 January 1945, the United States Army frees the prisoners being held by the Japanese at the Cabanatuan camp in the Philippines. The groundwork for that liberation began years earlier when Colonel Joe Madden, an American army officer who possesses a strong bond to the Philippine people and a commitment to maintain their independence, is assigned to organize a band of guerrillas to resist the encroaching Japanese army. Before leaving his troops, Madden puts Captain Andreas Bonifacio, the grandson of a venerated Philippine leader, in charge. Bonifacio is despondent because his former sweetheart, Dalisay Delgado, now works as a spokesperson for the Japanese and advocates Philippine surrender. As Madden assembles his guerrilla army in the jungle, the Japanese overrun a nearby village and close its school. When a Japanese captain orders Buenaventura Bello, the principal, to haul down the American flag, Bello refuses and is hung from the flag pole for his insubordination. Miss Barnes, the schoolteacher, flees into the jungle with Maximo and the other students and there meets Madden. Her words of inspiration and defiance inspire the guerrillas in their mission to blow up a gasoline dump at a Japanese airfield. Later, word comes of the fall of Bataan and capture of Bonifacio. Madden finds and frees the wounded Bonifacio, however, and Miss Barnes nurses him back to health. Madden and his men then liberate Maximo's village, and after executing the Japanese captain, they place an epitaph on Bello's grave. Although Bonifacio recovers from his wounds, his faith in the Philippine cause is not restored. Madden, aware that Dalisay is working undercover as a messenger in the Philippine independence movement, ... +


On 30 January 1945, the United States Army frees the prisoners being held by the Japanese at the Cabanatuan camp in the Philippines. The groundwork for that liberation began years earlier when Colonel Joe Madden, an American army officer who possesses a strong bond to the Philippine people and a commitment to maintain their independence, is assigned to organize a band of guerrillas to resist the encroaching Japanese army. Before leaving his troops, Madden puts Captain Andreas Bonifacio, the grandson of a venerated Philippine leader, in charge. Bonifacio is despondent because his former sweetheart, Dalisay Delgado, now works as a spokesperson for the Japanese and advocates Philippine surrender. As Madden assembles his guerrilla army in the jungle, the Japanese overrun a nearby village and close its school. When a Japanese captain orders Buenaventura Bello, the principal, to haul down the American flag, Bello refuses and is hung from the flag pole for his insubordination. Miss Barnes, the schoolteacher, flees into the jungle with Maximo and the other students and there meets Madden. Her words of inspiration and defiance inspire the guerrillas in their mission to blow up a gasoline dump at a Japanese airfield. Later, word comes of the fall of Bataan and capture of Bonifacio. Madden finds and frees the wounded Bonifacio, however, and Miss Barnes nurses him back to health. Madden and his men then liberate Maximo's village, and after executing the Japanese captain, they place an epitaph on Bello's grave. Although Bonifacio recovers from his wounds, his faith in the Philippine cause is not restored. Madden, aware that Dalisay is working undercover as a messenger in the Philippine independence movement, sends Bonifacio to Manila with a message. There, Bonifacio is surprised to discover that his contact is Dalisay. After she lectures him about the importance of resisting Japanese aggression, Bonifacio returns to the jungle and reluctantly agrees to rejoin the fight until he can leave the country with Dalisay. As Madden and his machete-wielding army recapture Japanese-held villages, Colonel Kuroki decides to mollify the Philippine people by staging an elaborate ceremony to declare their independence. Madden and his men plan to sabotage the ceremony, and Maximo begs to join them in the attack. Madden refuses but, after giving the boy his colonel's eagle as consolation, orders him to take charge of the other children. As the Japanese begin to broadcast the ceremony, Madden and his men attack and Dalisay denounces the Japanese invaders. After Bonifacio rescues her from the stage, they all retreat into the jungle. Maximo prepares to flee, but is captured by Japanese soldiers and beaten until he agrees to lead them to the guerrilla headquarters. As the boy and his captors drive along a mountain road, Maximo grabs the steering wheel and sends the vehicle plunging from a cliff. Witnessing the accident, Madden and his men rush to the truck, and Maximo dies in the arms of Miss Barnes. Ordered to forge ahead, Madden puts Bonifacio in charge of the guerrillas and departs. In the passing months, the guerrillas are bouyed by word that the "Yanks" are landing. After making their way to the beach at Leyte, Bonifacio, who still lacks faith, is amazed to find the beach filled with people awaiting the arrival of an American submarine delivering guns. The appearance of the submarine restores Bonifacio's conviction, and he vows to fight until the end. The submarine also brings Madden and Lt. Commander Waite of the United States Navy, who announces that General MacArthur plans to land American troops on the beach at Leyte. Assigned to block the road from Japanese troops until the beachhead is secured, Madden and his men hide underneath the water in a rice paddy near Japanese headquarters, using reeds to breath. At the proper moment, they spring to the surface to attack. As the guerrillas battle the oncoming Japanese tanks, the Americans arrive with reinforcements. With the defeat of the Japanese, the American flag is hoisted back up the flagpole, and the Philippine people achieve their hard-won freedom. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.