Purple Hearts (1984)

R | 115 mins | Romance | 30 March 1984

Director:

Sidney J. Furie

Producer:

Sidney J. Furie

Cinematographer:

Jan Kiesser

Production Designers:

Francisco Balangue, Delete Delete

Production Company:

The Ladd Company
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HISTORY

Purple Hearts was director Sidney J. Furie’s second Vietnam War themed movie; the first was The Boys in Company C (1978, see entry). Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate that after Furie completed The Boys in Company C, which he co-wrote with Rick Natkin, he felt he had more to say about the Vietnam conflict. Furie wanted to explore a romance and the “hunger for intimacy” in a wartime setting. Furie and Natkin co-wrote the Purple Hearts screenplay, which The Ladd Company was enthusiastic about producing. However, the Ladd Company was nervous about the cost of making a war movie, so Furie, who also served as producer, devised a low $2.8 million budget. Thanks to the experience of shooting The Boys in Company C in the Philippines, Furie knew how to cut costs and still make the movie he wanted to make.
       When writing the screenplay, Furie envisioned Ken Wahl in the role of “Don Jardian.” Although he had never met the actor, Furie sent a copy of the script to Wahl, and he accepted the role.
       Furie auditioned more than a hundred actresses for the part of “Deborah Solomon,” but could not find the right one. When someone suggested actress Cheryl Ladd, best known for starring in the television detective series Charlie’s Angels [American Broadcasting Company (ABC), 1976—1981], Furie arranged a meeting and offered her the part on the spot after she did a cold reading. Although Cheryl Ladd had starred in many made-for-television movies, Purple Hearts was her first big-screen starring role. While the movie was financed by The Ladd Company, headed ... More Less

Purple Hearts was director Sidney J. Furie’s second Vietnam War themed movie; the first was The Boys in Company C (1978, see entry). Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate that after Furie completed The Boys in Company C, which he co-wrote with Rick Natkin, he felt he had more to say about the Vietnam conflict. Furie wanted to explore a romance and the “hunger for intimacy” in a wartime setting. Furie and Natkin co-wrote the Purple Hearts screenplay, which The Ladd Company was enthusiastic about producing. However, the Ladd Company was nervous about the cost of making a war movie, so Furie, who also served as producer, devised a low $2.8 million budget. Thanks to the experience of shooting The Boys in Company C in the Philippines, Furie knew how to cut costs and still make the movie he wanted to make.
       When writing the screenplay, Furie envisioned Ken Wahl in the role of “Don Jardian.” Although he had never met the actor, Furie sent a copy of the script to Wahl, and he accepted the role.
       Furie auditioned more than a hundred actresses for the part of “Deborah Solomon,” but could not find the right one. When someone suggested actress Cheryl Ladd, best known for starring in the television detective series Charlie’s Angels [American Broadcasting Company (ABC), 1976—1981], Furie arranged a meeting and offered her the part on the spot after she did a cold reading. Although Cheryl Ladd had starred in many made-for-television movies, Purple Hearts was her first big-screen starring role. While the movie was financed by The Ladd Company, headed by Alan Ladd, Jr., who was the half-brother of Cheryl Ladd’s husband, David Ladd, Furie insisted the family connection did not factor in her casting.
       Principal photography began on 28 Feb 1983 in the Philippines, according to the 22 Mar 1983 HR production chart. The film shot in and around Manila and set up production headquarters in the Sterling Hangar, which had enough space to accommodate a sound stage.
       Purple Hearts opened in limited regional release on 30 Mar 1984. The 11 Apr 1984 DV indicated it was playing on ten screens, but by the next week, it had expanded to forty-three screens and had grossed a total of $1.1 million, according to the 17 Apr 1984 DV box-office report. Purple Hearts expanded to nationwide release, playing on 370 screens, on 4 May 1984, earning $515,053 in those first three days, the 8 May 1984 DV reported, for a cumulative total of $1.7 million.
       Purple Hearts marked Jan Kiesser’s first feature film as director of photography.
       Credits are preceded the following statement: “This film is dedicated to the 347,309 Americans who received the Purple Heart awarded for wounds suffered in the Vietnam Conflict.”
       End credits state: “Filmed on Location in the Philippines.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1984.
---
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1984.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 1984.
---
Daily Variety
8 May 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1984
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
5 May 1984
p. 2.
New York Times
4 May 1984
p. 15.
Variety
9 May 1984
p. 526.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Sidney J. Furie Film
A Ladd Company Release through Warner Bros.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Philippine prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st cam asst
Cam asst
Cam loader
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and performed by
Mus prod & supv
Computer & synthesizers programmed by
Mus rec
Asst mus rec
Fairlight CMI by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Re-rec
Re-rec
ADR/Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Loc mgr
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Armorer
Prod asst
Liaison officer
Prod processing
Equipment supplied by
Equipment supplied by
Post prod coord
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 March 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 4 May 1984
Production Date:
began 28 February 1983
Copyright Claimant:
The Ladd Company
Copyright Date:
18 March 1984
Copyright Number:
PA213310
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in selected theatres.
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision ®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor ®
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27105
SYNOPSIS

Twenty-nine year-old doctor Don Jardian could have a thriving million-dollar-a-year medical practice, but when he is drafted to serve in Vietnam, he does nothing to try to get out of service in the Navy, much to the chagrin of his future father-in-law, who has big plans for him. After ten weeks of duty in a mobile field hospital unit, Don flies with a critically ill patient to an army hospital in Da Nang. Don observes the surgery and is immediately infatuated with a young nurse in the operating room named Deborah Solomon. Although the patient dies, Don and Deborah go for a drink at the officer’s club. She observes that serving in Vietnam is the greatest medical training a doctor can ever get. Deborah, who comes from a family of physicians, spent six months in medical school, but did not like the detached attitude toward patient care she was being taught. Don propositions Deborah, but she turns him down, suggesting he is just trying to escape his feelings. Don replies that sex would make him feel alive, but Deborah wants sex to mean something. The next day, Don hitches a ride back to the field hospital on a helicopter with a soldier named Brenner. However, the helicopter is hit by enemy fire and the two jump off, landing in a rice paddy. Not knowing whether they are in enemy or friendly territory, they run for cover and soon find two Viet Cong soldiers looking for them. Brenner shoots, killing one, injuring the other. Don tries to tend to the wounded Viet Cong, but Brenner shoots and kills the soldier. The two run across a rice paddy, but Brenner is ... +


Twenty-nine year-old doctor Don Jardian could have a thriving million-dollar-a-year medical practice, but when he is drafted to serve in Vietnam, he does nothing to try to get out of service in the Navy, much to the chagrin of his future father-in-law, who has big plans for him. After ten weeks of duty in a mobile field hospital unit, Don flies with a critically ill patient to an army hospital in Da Nang. Don observes the surgery and is immediately infatuated with a young nurse in the operating room named Deborah Solomon. Although the patient dies, Don and Deborah go for a drink at the officer’s club. She observes that serving in Vietnam is the greatest medical training a doctor can ever get. Deborah, who comes from a family of physicians, spent six months in medical school, but did not like the detached attitude toward patient care she was being taught. Don propositions Deborah, but she turns him down, suggesting he is just trying to escape his feelings. Don replies that sex would make him feel alive, but Deborah wants sex to mean something. The next day, Don hitches a ride back to the field hospital on a helicopter with a soldier named Brenner. However, the helicopter is hit by enemy fire and the two jump off, landing in a rice paddy. Not knowing whether they are in enemy or friendly territory, they run for cover and soon find two Viet Cong soldiers looking for them. Brenner shoots, killing one, injuring the other. Don tries to tend to the wounded Viet Cong, but Brenner shoots and kills the soldier. The two run across a rice paddy, but Brenner is injured when he steps on a landmine. Don carries him to the highway, where American soldiers take them back to the field hospital. Don receives a tape-recorded letter from his fiancée, Jill, but her loving words do not mean much to him now that he has met Deborah. His tent mate, a doctor known as “Wizard,” teases him about having “pussy brain.” Wizard warns Don not to ask Commander Markel for leave time to see Deborah in Da Nang, advising that Markel does not like Don and will use the request to as an excuse to send him to the front lines. Nonetheless, Don tricks Markel into sending him to Da Nang to pick up a special piece of medical equipment. Deborah takes him to a black market dealer where Don purchases the instrument for $150. However, as they are leaving, Don and Deborah are caught in a shootout between two black market gangs. Deborah is grazed by a bullet and Don tends to her wound. Afterward, they start to make love, but she pulls away, saying she cannot have a casual affair. When he returns to the field hospital, Markel sends Don to the front, where he serves with a young doctor named Hanes who seems quite experienced for his age. The commanding officer reveals that Hanes is not a doctor, but rather a corpsman who never finished high school. Two weeks later, Deborah is sent to the field hospital with supplies, but is disappointed to find that Don is not there. When she helps tend to incoming wounded, she gets reports from soldiers about how good a doctor Don is. At the front, the North Vietnamese soldiers start an offensive to take a hill. Although most of unit is killed, Don and the patients are evacuated to a ship where he is reunited with Deborah. Don kisses her and declares his love, followed by a sexual encounter. Deborah and other nurses leave for some rest and relaxation (R&R) in Manila, The Philippines. Back at the field hospital, Don requests leave in Manila, but Commander Markel turns him down. Desperate to get to Manila, Don agrees to take a dangerous assignment in exchange for R&R. In Manila, Deborah takes Don to a cemetery where she visits the grave of her old boyfriend who flew an extra mission to get R&R time. That is why she was reluctant to get involved with Don, but she admits she loves him. Don says he and his fiancée, Jill, have broken up, adding that he no longer needs help from Jill’s father in starting a medical practice, due to the experience he has gotten in Vietnam. Don and Deborah make love and start planning a future together. Deborah, whose tour of duty is over in twenty-eight days, wants to work at a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital at American Lake, Washington. When Don returns to Vietnam, he is sent on a top-secret mission to break eighty American prisoners of war (POWs) out of a compound twenty-one miles south of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Don is needed for the mission because casualties are expected. The team, headed by a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent who Don calls “Bwana,” arrives under cover of darkness, and discover the cells are empty. As they retreat, the helicopter carrying Don is shot down. Don is reported dead, and the Army refuses to give Deborah any details since the mission was classified. However, Don, Bwana, and a soldier named Zuma are still alive, although Bwana is badly injured and cannot walk without help. The three pass through enemy territory for several days without detection. Don kills enemy soldiers to get their food, and an American reconnaissance mission rescues them twelve miles behind the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Don arrives at the hospital in Da Nang just after the North Vietnamese fire rockets at the hospital compound. Many were killed in the attack, including Deborah. Don is awarded a Naval Cross for Outstanding Service, promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and reassigned to a naval hospital ship, the safest assignment possible, until his tour of duty is over. Once released, Don gets a job at the VA Hospital in American Lake, Washington. There is he stunned to find Deborah alive and working as a nurse. She reveals that she gave her clothes to another nurse just before she left Vietnam. Don and Deborah make plans for their life together. +

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

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