🎥 A Town Like Alice – 1956
The Story …
In post-Second World War London, a young woman, Jean Paget, is informed by solicitor Noel Strachan that she has a large inheritance.
Jean uses part of it to build a well in a small village in Malaya. The village women will no longer have to walk so far each day to collect water. She lived and worked there for three years during the war.
The film then goes in flashback to 1942. Jean is working in an office in Kuala Lumpur in Malaya when the Japanese invade. When she stays to help the wife of her employer, Mr. Holland, with her three children, she is taken prisoner, along with other white men, women and children.
The men are taken away to prison …
The women and children, however, are made to walk from place to place, looking for a ship to transport them to Singapore, but at each place, there is no ship available, and the Japanese authorities have no wish to take responsibility for them.
On their trek, the group meet a young Australian soldier, Sergeant Joe Harman, also a prisoner, who drives a truck for the Japanese. He steals petrol and barters it for medicine for them. He and Jean strike up a friendship in the little time they have together, and he tells her about Alice Springs, the town where he grew up.
Jean does not correct his impression that she is married (she is carrying the youngest of Mrs. Holland’s children, the mother having succumbed to the endless walking).
One day, the eldest Holland child, a young boy, wanders off into the jungle and is fatally bitten by a snake. At one stop, a Japanese officer likes Jean’s looks and offers to let her and the baby remain, while the rest travel another 200 miles to Kuantan on the east coast. Jean turns away but another young woman is not so choosy after four months of walking and the deaths of four women and the boy so gets into the officer’s car. More die, including four-year-old Jane Holland.
They run into Joe twice more. The second time, he secretly drops them a package of food as he drives by in a truck. They stop at the same place that night, and Joe and Jean talk some more. She reveals she is not married. Joe steals chickens for them from the harsh Captain Sugaya. However, Sugaya has no trouble identifying the thief; the chickens are nowhere about, and Joe was the only one who left the depot.
When the women are found eating chicken, Jean claims they bought the birds, but that is a transparent lie. When Joe sees Jean being relentlessly questioned, he confesses and attacks the interrogator. As punishment, Sugaya has him crucified, nailed to a large tree. The prisoners, both men and women, are forced to watch all day and night.
Sugaya orders the women to continue marching; he leaves them only one guard, the kindly sergeant, so that he can bear his disgrace alone. When he dies of exhaustion, Jean asks the elders of a Malayan village if they may stay and work in the paddy fields, asking only for food and a place to sleep, telling them that over half of the marchers have died. The elders agree and they stay there until the war ends. Afterwards, Jean gives Mr. Holland back his only surviving child.
The film returns to the present, and Jean is stunned to learn that Joe survived his ordeal. She travels to Alice Springs, then to the (fictional) town of Willstown in the Queensland outback, where Joe has resumed his job as manager of a cattle station. Joe, however, has gone to London to find her. Finally re-united at Alice Springs Airport, they embrace.
- Directed by Jack Lee
- Written by Nevil Shute (novel); W. P. Lipscomb and Richard Mason (screenplay)
- Produced by Joseph Janni
- Cinematography : Geoffrey Unsworth
- Edited by Sidney Hayers
- Music by Matyas Seiber
- Distributed by The Rank Organisation
- Release Date : 1 March 1956
- Virginia McKenna as Jean Paget
- Peter Finch as Joe Harman
- Kenji Takaki as Japanese Sergeant
- Tran Van Khe as Captain Sugaya
- Jean Anderson as Miss Horsefall
- Marie Lohr as Mrs. Dudley Frost
- Maureen Swanson as Ellen
- Renée Houston as Ebbey
- Nora Nicholson as Mrs. Frith
- Eileen Moore as Mrs. Holland
- John Fabian as Mr. Holland
- Vincent Ball as Ben
- Tim Turner as British Sergeant
- Vu Ngoc Tuan as Captain Yanata
- Yamada as Captain Takata
- Nakanishi as Captain Nishi
- Ikeda as Kempetei Sergeant
- Geoffrey Keen as Solicitor
- June Shaw as Mrs. Graham
- Armine Sandford as Mrs. Carstairs
- Mary Allen as Mrs. Anderson
- Virginia Clay as Mrs. Knowles
- Bay White as Mrs. Davies
- Philippa Morgan as Mrs. Lindsay
- Dorothy Moss as Mrs. O’Brien
- Gwenda Ewen as Mrs. Rhodes
- Josephine Miller as Daphne Adams
- Edwina Carroll as Fatima
- Sanny Bin Hussan as Mat Amin
- Charles Marshall as Well Digger
- Jane White as Brenda
- Cameron Moore as Freddie
- Margaret Eaden as Jane
- Domenic Lieven as Michael Rhodes
- Peter John as Timothy
- Meg Buckenham as Mary Graham
- Geoffrey Hawkins as Robin
Film Information Source :
Copyright Protected :
ALL RIGHTS TO THIS MOVIE REMAIN WITH THE OWNERS