Five Came back – a story of Hollywood and the 2nd World War

02 Sep

I picked up this book to read during my Muskoka vacation in August.  It is by Mark Harris writing about the movies made during the war  by the big 5 directors of the time  (Capra, Huston, Walsh, Wyler and Ford) and how, once war was declared in 1941, their mission went from entertaining to producing `propaganda`movies for public consumption.  Of course there is a brief mention of “Operation Burma` and an interesting line or two-

Did you know that during the scene where the soldiers come upon the mutilated corpses of their comrades, the original script had Errol saying -`There`s nothing especially Japanese about this.. you`ll find it wherever you find Fascists. There are even people who call themselves American who`d do it too“The line was cut as anti Japanese language was preferred.  It is an odd sentence to have in a movie about war.

Somehow I can see Errol saying that. I wonder what he thought of the line being cut.

— Maria


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    September 3, 2015 at 2:48 am

    They were right to cut that line! Good thing for Flynn, too. With him being so wrongly and widely criticized for “evading” service, such a reckless line could have sunk his career. And what for? … As it turned out, the British went after him for Objective Burma!, and not the Americans! Better than a two-front war with both of them!!

    I don’t believe Americans (nor British, Germans, or Italians) were engaged in the same manner or extent of “mutilation” that the Japanese were during WWII. Of course, there had to be random, occasional attacks on Japanese, but, to my knowledge, nothing nearly on the order or with the official consent of what Japanese soldiers were doing, against Chinese, Filipinos, British, Australians and Americans, et al.

    I believe Japanese were very extensively torturing, raping and mutilating entire bodies, heads, hands, feet, gentitals. I believe American “mutilations” were much more oriented toward trophy collections – teeth, ears, and heads when that was feasible – minus the rapes and torture (though I’m sure there had to be some much lesser amount of torture of Japanese soldiers, especially in light of how angry American GIs were at the incredibly barbaric treatment their soldiers and Marines were suffering at the hands of the Japanese.

    Here’s some very interesting information regarding Objective Burma! and the mutilation part of the story:…

    By the way … here is some American mutilation of a Japanese soldier in the film:…

  2. Maria

    April 3, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Well today I discovered the NETFLIX production of”Five Came Back” – not too bad but the book was more informative –
    No mention of “Objective Burma” this time -however , in a segment of an admiring Francis Ford Coppola introducing John Houston , John mentions the fight with Errol Flynn over Olivia DeHavilland.

    Focus was primarily on how the 5 directors got into the Armed Forces and what they saw and filmed throughout. All were deeply affected -and the actual movies shown really bring the horror of it all home. The USA gov’t has finally allowed the PTSD movie that John Houston created (following returning soldiers through admission to hospital for help) to be shown and it is also on Netflix – “Let there be light.”

    Brave bunch I think!