Hell to Eternity (1960)

132 mins | Drama | August 1960

Full page view
HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Beyond the Call and Beyond the Call of Duty . The closing credits include the following written acknowledgment: "We thank the Department of Defense, especially the Marine Corps. and its officers and men of the Third Marine Division on Okinawa, for the cooperation extended during the filming of the battle sequences of this motion picture."
       The film is based on the true experiences of Marine hero Pfc. Guy Gabaldon (1926--2006), who, according to military historians, captured over 1,500 Japanese soldiers and cilvilians during the Battle of Saipan. Known as "The Pied Piper of Saipan" for his success in capturing prisoners, the then eighteen-year-old Gabaldon was nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor and awarded the Silver Star. Many of the events of the film mirror Gabaldon's life: In Los Angeles, after his mother was hospitalized, the Mexican-American Gabaldon was taken into several Nisei homes, where he was reared in a traditional Japanese fashion. At the age of sixteen, he attempted to enlist in the Army, but was refused because of a punctured eardrum.
       After the attack on Pearl Harbor, while Gabaldon’s foster parents were interned, he tried to join the Marines, and although he was slightly undersize, he was accepted because of his fluency in Japanese and assigned to an intelligence unit. While on the island of Saipan, Gabaldon repeatedly went behind enemy lines, usually alone, and talked many Japanese soldiers and civilians into surrendering. At first, Gabaldon persuaded small groups of Japanese to surrender, then on 8 Jul 1944, single-handedly took 800 prisoners. In 1960, around the time of the release of Hell ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Beyond the Call and Beyond the Call of Duty . The closing credits include the following written acknowledgment: "We thank the Department of Defense, especially the Marine Corps. and its officers and men of the Third Marine Division on Okinawa, for the cooperation extended during the filming of the battle sequences of this motion picture."
       The film is based on the true experiences of Marine hero Pfc. Guy Gabaldon (1926--2006), who, according to military historians, captured over 1,500 Japanese soldiers and cilvilians during the Battle of Saipan. Known as "The Pied Piper of Saipan" for his success in capturing prisoners, the then eighteen-year-old Gabaldon was nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor and awarded the Silver Star. Many of the events of the film mirror Gabaldon's life: In Los Angeles, after his mother was hospitalized, the Mexican-American Gabaldon was taken into several Nisei homes, where he was reared in a traditional Japanese fashion. At the age of sixteen, he attempted to enlist in the Army, but was refused because of a punctured eardrum.
       After the attack on Pearl Harbor, while Gabaldon’s foster parents were interned, he tried to join the Marines, and although he was slightly undersize, he was accepted because of his fluency in Japanese and assigned to an intelligence unit. While on the island of Saipan, Gabaldon repeatedly went behind enemy lines, usually alone, and talked many Japanese soldiers and civilians into surrendering. At first, Gabaldon persuaded small groups of Japanese to surrender, then on 8 Jul 1944, single-handedly took 800 prisoners. In 1960, around the time of the release of Hell to Eternity , Gabaldon's Silver Star was upgraded to a Navy Cross, and in the 1990s, Hispanic veterans and lawmakers began a campaign to request the reevaluation of Gabaldon's eligibility for the Congressional Medal of Honor. At the time of Gabaldon's death in 2006, the reevaluation remained unresolved.
       On 20 Jun 1957, DV reported that the screen rights to Gabaldon's life story, which had been featured on the NBC television show This Is Your Life the evening before, had been purchased by Gramercy Pictures. A 26 Oct 1960 Var news item then announced that the American Broadcasting-Parent Theatres company (AB-PT), which had been headed by producer Irving H. Levin, had originated the project and provided a major portion of the financing for it. Atlantic Pictures, the production company listed onscreen, was formed by Levin after AB-PT became inactive, and Hell to Eternity was the first and only production for Atlantic.
       A 28 Mar 1960 HR news item noted that actress Joan O'Brien withdrew as the female lead due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced, according to a 5 Apr 1960 HR news item, by Patricia Owens. HR news items add the following actors to the cast, although their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Frank Allocca, Morgan Jones, Ron Kennedy, Charles Victor, Alan Wells, Leon Lontoc, Rick Murray, Raymond Yanagita, Jill Miyahara and Teru Shimada.
       Press information contained in the copyright record noted that the U.S. Marine Corps. staged battle scenes on Okinawa with several hundred veterans of the Japanese Imperial Army appearing as extras. A 17 Mar 1960 HR news item added that 500 Marines from nearby Camp Hansen were also extras in the battle scene shooting. In addition to the location shooting in Okinawa, portions of the film were shot at Palos Verdes and Century Ranch in Calabasas, CA. Hell to Eternity was actress Tsuru Aoki Hayakawa's first American film in thirty-five years, and her last film before her death in 1961. She and her husband, Sessue Hayakawa, were frequent co-stars in the silent film era.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, strong objections were made to the scene in which "Famika" and "Sheila Lincoln" perform a striptease. An 11 Jan 1960 letter from PCA official Geoffrey Shurlock to Allied Artists demanded that the suggestion of an illicit sexual affair between "Guy" and "Sono" be removed. In Feb 1960, Shurlock informed the company that an altered version of the scene was still unacceptable, and on 7 Jun 1960, shortly after production was completed, studio official Gordon S. White agreed to reduce considerably the length of the scene, removing various sexually explicit shots. On 14 Jun 1960, the scene was accepted, and the script approved.
       The speech delivered by Hayakawa's character to the troops captured by Gabaldon is spoken in Japanese. The story of "Momotaro, the Peach Boy," is one of the best known folktales in Japan. Its principal character exemplifies kindness, courage and strength. A 19 Sep 1961 DV news item reported that Gabaldon made personal appearances in connection with free screenings of the film in provincial areas of Mexico. Hell to Eternity was the last produced screen story of writer Gil Doud (1914--1957). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jul 60
pp. 412-414, 434, 436-38.
Box Office
8 Aug 1960.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1957.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 60
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Sep 1961.
---
Film Daily
29 Jul 60
p. 6.
Filmfacts
1960
pp. 253-54.
Hollywood Citizen-News
1 Sep 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1959
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1960
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1960
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 1960
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 60
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1960
p. 21.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1960
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1960
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1960
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1960
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 60
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1960
p. 2.
LAMirror-News
16 May 1960.
---
LAMirror-News
1 Sep 1960.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
1 Sep 1960.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1960.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Sep 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Aug 60
p. 796.
New York Times
1 May 1960.
---
New York Times
13 Oct 60
p. 41.
Time
31 Oct 1960.
---
Variety
3 Aug 60
p. 7.
Variety
26 Oct 1960.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod exec
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const supv
Props
Props
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Miss Owens' and Miss Sato's dance seq staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup
STAND INS
Stunts
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Beyond the Call
Beyond the Call of Duty
Release Date:
August 1960
Premiere Information:
World premierein New Orleans, LA and Jacksonville, NC: 28 July 1960
Los Angeles opening: 31 August 1960
Production Date:
23 February--5 May 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Atlantic Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16594
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
132
Length(in feet):
11,852
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19675
SYNOPSIS

In Depression-era Los Angeles, young Guy Gabaldon's widowed mother is taken to the hospital, and the boy is left to fend for himself. After learning about Guy's predicament, school basketball coach Kaz Une takes him to live with his own parents, and when Guy's mother dies, the family adopts him. To comfort Guy, Mother Une tells him the old Japanese tale of the Peach Boy, whose love for his parents is as precious as a great treasure, whereupon Guy tearfully embraces her. Years later, as Guy talks to Ester, his foster brother George's girl friend, a young white man calls Guy a "Jap lover" and accuses him of consorting with the enemy. Later that day, the family is distressed to learn that the United States has declared war against Japan. George wants to enlist immediately, but Kaz, who had tried to join up the day before, tells him that Japanese Americans are suspected of being spies and are being rejected from military service. Soon afterward, Guy's family and Japanese friends are taken to relocation camps. While George's parents and brothers go willingly, eager to help their government in any way they can, Guy is unwilling to betray the people he loves and refuses to enlist. Kaz and George finally do join up, and while they are fighting in Italy, Guy travels to Camp Manzanar in California to visit his parents. When Mother Une claims to be proud of her "All-American" sons, Guy realizes that she wants him to enlist. Soon afterward, Guy joins the Marines and, while in training at Camp Pendleton, befriends Sgt. Bill Hazen and Corp. Pete Lewis. Before facing active ... +


In Depression-era Los Angeles, young Guy Gabaldon's widowed mother is taken to the hospital, and the boy is left to fend for himself. After learning about Guy's predicament, school basketball coach Kaz Une takes him to live with his own parents, and when Guy's mother dies, the family adopts him. To comfort Guy, Mother Une tells him the old Japanese tale of the Peach Boy, whose love for his parents is as precious as a great treasure, whereupon Guy tearfully embraces her. Years later, as Guy talks to Ester, his foster brother George's girl friend, a young white man calls Guy a "Jap lover" and accuses him of consorting with the enemy. Later that day, the family is distressed to learn that the United States has declared war against Japan. George wants to enlist immediately, but Kaz, who had tried to join up the day before, tells him that Japanese Americans are suspected of being spies and are being rejected from military service. Soon afterward, Guy's family and Japanese friends are taken to relocation camps. While George's parents and brothers go willingly, eager to help their government in any way they can, Guy is unwilling to betray the people he loves and refuses to enlist. Kaz and George finally do join up, and while they are fighting in Italy, Guy travels to Camp Manzanar in California to visit his parents. When Mother Une claims to be proud of her "All-American" sons, Guy realizes that she wants him to enlist. Soon afterward, Guy joins the Marines and, while in training at Camp Pendleton, befriends Sgt. Bill Hazen and Corp. Pete Lewis. Before facing active duty, the three men visit a Honolulu nightclub called the Hawaiian Village, where they meet Famika, a stripper, Sono, a barmaid, and Sheila Lincoln, a reporter. Nicknamed the "Iron Petticoat" by the soldiers who have unsuccessfully attempted to seduce her, Sheila fumes as the men, now drinking at Sono's apartment, watch Famika perform a striptease. Too much whiskey and an attraction to Guy lead Sheila to perform a strip act of her own, after which each couple finds a private spot for lovemaking. Later, the Marines land on a well-defended beach in Saipan, and although he experiences conflicting emotions, Guy soon grows accustomed to the need to "kill or be killed." Because he speaks Japanese, Guy is able to persuade many of the starving local people to surrender their arms and emerge from the caves in which they have taken refuge. When Bill is killed, however, Guy is transformed by rage and massacres injured and unarmed Japanese soldiers who try to surrender. A letter from his mother soon softens his hatred, and he is appalled when he sees unarmed civilians, frightened at the prospect of becoming prisoners, leaping off steep cliffs to escape capture. On a scouting mission, Guy and another Marine overhear Japanese general Matsui ordering his sick and starving troops to prepare for a sudden, last-ditch attack on the Americans. The two Marines manage to capture Matsui and steal the attack plans, but Guy's partner is killed trying to warn the American troops. While Guy holds the general at gunpoint, he descries the fact that the Japanese commander would send injured soldiers, women and children into battle to face certain death against superior American forces, and then reveals that he was reared by a Japanese family. In a lengthy, emotional speech to his forces, Matsui orders his people to surrender, and as hundreds of prisoners accompany Guy back to the Marine encampment, the shamed general commits hara-kiri. +

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.