Inspired by the U.S. Army’s “Merrill’s Marauders”, Warner Bothers produced Operation Burma! in 1945. It’s an outstanding film and one of Errol’s personal favorites. Nevertheless, it backfired big time for Flynn, with Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten, enraged members of the British Army and citizenry, hurling personal attacks at Flynn, falsely accusing him of acting as if “he won the War single-handedly”.
See, for example, this article from just last week again mocks and maligns Errol and the movie (along with some other great films):
Despite all these bitter complaints and attacks, however, Operation Burma! had a very strong and obvious connection to actual military operations of Merrill’s Marauders in Burma. As evidence, here is a National Archive video including 1944 news reel film which I believe likely inspired production of Operation Burma! Similarly, the second link is a transcription of a New York Times report further hailing the heroics of Merrill’s Marauders. Clearly, this unique operation in Burma was all very well and widely known and praised prior to the making of Operation Burma!.
Here is a better, more informed and informative criticism of the film:
I recently visited the outstanding World War II Museum in New Orleans and was very significantly impressed by their extensive exhibit on Merrill’s Marauders (Below are a couple of poorly-taken cell phone photos I took which fail to capture the very high quality of the museum and exhibit.) This exhibit serves to further confirm the profound actual and public relations impact Vinegar Joe Stillwell and Frank Merrill’s operations had against the Japanese in Burma, and on the American public.
SO, based on the unquestionably significant and heroic courage and accomplishments of Merrill’s Marauders, my question for all on both sides of the pond and beyond, is:
Was Errol and Operation Burma! wrongly and/or excessively criticized (or at least not properly or sufficiently credited) for this extraordinary war film?
— Gentleman Tim