A Town Like Alice


Drama / Romance / War

IMDb Rating 7.2 10 1554

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
July 13, 2021 at 06:50 PM



Peter Finch as Joe Harman
Virginia McKenna as Jean Paget
1.04 GB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 56 min
P/S 0 / 15

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 8 / 10

Japanese Chivalry

The Rank Organisation went whole hog in producing A Town Like Alice with location shooting in Malaya, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The results were well worth the effort and the film was a big boost to the careers of Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna. In fact as Finch was becoming more and more an international star he would get fewer roles like this one, playing a native Australian.

I was expecting when deciding to view this film that it would be similar in nature to the American film Three Came Home that starred Claudette Colbert as a woman prisoner of the Japanese in World War II. The woman prisoners were segregated, but quickly housed and fended for themselves as best they could, but in a static setting.

When the male prisoners are separated from the females after the fall of Malaya, these woman are put under guard and just sent around like vagabonds with their children if they had them. Why they were selected for this rather special brand of torture we can speculate on end, but whatever the Japanese idea of chivalry was to the women, they couldn't just outright kill them. In fact none are during this film.

The film is seen through McKenna's eyes, she's working as a secretary in Kuala Lampur when the Japanese takeover. She takes over too as guardian of her boss's kids after their mother dies early on in the strange odyssey. Peter Finch plays an Australian soldier who with his mates they constantly run into and who offers them help when he can sneak food and medicine from the Japanese. He pays a heavy price for doing this when he's caught.

When he was killed by Irish Terrorists in 1979, it was learned that Lord Mountbatten had specifically requested that at his funeral no representation from the Japanese was to be permitted. As Supreme Commander of that theater Mountbatten remembered all the horror stories he heard from people survived Japanese internment, even the strange internment where apparently the whole country was their jail.

How McKenna and those that remained survived is quite a story, let's say it involved breaking a lot of cultural barriers to do it. One of the women who did it her own way was Maureen Swanson who after McKenna refuses his proposition, she takes up with a Japanese captain. Swanson is another you'll remember from A Town Like Alice.

Alice refers to Alice Springs in Northern Territory where Finch reminisces he'd like to return. It sounds like heaven, looks pretty good too after the years in Malaya. The film is a really good war film from the not often heard from point of view of woman prisoners.

Reviewed by RJBurke1942 7 / 10

World War Two experience from a different perspective...

Soon after the end of real hostilities in 1945, Hollywood produced the first of many subsequent films from the perspective of prisoners of war held by the Japanese: that film was Three Came Home (1950) with Claudette Colbert. I recall seeing that one a long time ago and recall the dark nature of that narrative (I have yet to submit a review here, but I will, in time).

A Town Like Alice is a different kettle of fish, so to speak: instead of a single family, it's a mix of various women and children caught up in the retreat to Singapore in 1941, and follows their seemingly unending trek across Malaya, from camp to camp, seeking admission and a final resting place to wait out the war.

The black and white photography is superb as the downtrodden party weaves its way through swamp, dirt roads, wet and dry season, very little food or water, malaria, dysentery and all other manner of tropical diseases. Little wonder that, as they walk, they also die, one at a time, from malnutrition and sickness, and all the while, their guard, an old-timer, gradually comes to admire their perseverance just as the women come to respect the old man's quiet determination to keep helping them to survive. That's the main story.

The big sub-plot is how Jean Paget (Virginia McKenna) meets Joe Harmon (Peter Finch), also a prisoner of war, and how they both come to fall in love – on the run, if you know what I mean: they keep meeting (he is pressed into service as a driver for the Japanese) at different parts of Malaya as the women keep wandering around, looking for a place to stay. So, there is a bit of comedy from the irrepressible Aussie soldiers, mixed with moments of real tension as the two lovers try to keep a relationship going under such conditions. And, it's during one of those meetings that Jean learns that Joe comes from Alice Springs.

Never boring, and with stand-out scenes, such as one of the little boys running in between the advancing Japanese soldiers with his toy gun, shouting "bang, bang" (reminiscent of Brandon de Wilde in Shane [1953], doing the same thing, and annoying Jean Arthur, inside the farm house); the joy of the women when they come across an abandoned house with hot running water; and, Jean's bargaining with a Malay shop-keeper for tinned milk for a baby.

If this period in history is of interest, you could do worse to spend two hours of your time. And, as for how the romance turns out, well, you'll just have to see the movie, won't you?

Reviewed by screenman 9 / 10

Excellent Movie

I suppose that it should be confessed at the outset that I had the hots for Ms McEnna in her youth. Nevertheless, I still think that this is an excellent movie of the 1950's war genre.

Ginny and Peter Finch provide typically understated performances that are reminiscent of 'Ice Cold In Alex' and 'The Cruel Sea'. Solid, sterling, stiff-upper-lip-stuff that has no place in the spineless, simpering, metro-sexual third millennium.

I have never read Shute's novel, so I cannot comment on what liberties have been taken, but viewed without prejudice as a movie outlining Japanese brutality and human endurance it is still a well-realised piece of work. Everyone gives a thoroughly believable turn, both Caucasian and Oriental alike, as Ms McEnna's character concludes 'you can't really hate anyone' in the end. Though the Japanese - like their Nazi counterparts - did their very best to merit it.

Ms McKenna leads a group of unwanted western women and children, for whom no Japanese officer wants responsibility. So; they get shunted from one place to another, on foot, inadequately fed, and without medical assistance. Inevitably; they begin dying. Finch plays a captured Aussie running trucks for the Japanese. Filmed in black-&-white, in Britain and on location, it offers a very believable turn upon the miasmic swamps, crippling heat, humidity and deluging rain.

Of course, it's a love story too. And here again Ginny and Peter play their parts to perfection. I defy any true romantic not to be rendered lachrymose by her realisation of his survival and their final meeting at the end. Her hasty, last-minute application of cosmetics is particularly touching and well-observed. As if he'd care a hoot one way or the other.

It's a great old feel-good movie for the austerity generation. I give it nine stars and good luck to 'em all I say.

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