SO PROUDLY WE HAIL is a surprisingly unglamorous Hollywood depiction of the lives of three Army nurses (Goddard, Lake, and Colbert) who survive the battles at Bataan and Corregidor in WWII. The film begins as they arrive back home in the US, then relates their story in flashback, beginning
in December 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the trio's Hawaii-bound ship is diverted to Bataan and finally to Corregidor. Along the way, the women witness the fighting at its most brutal, but also find time for relaxation and romance. Never, however, does SO PROUDLY WE HAIL succumb to
pinup star glamour; rather, Mark Sandrich's direction and Allan Scott's screenplay concentrate on the ugly realities of war, the painful scenes including a sequence in which a mother stands by while her son's legs are amputated. All three leads are superbly cast in their nicely balanced
characters. Colbert is the mother-hen nurse who avoids romance but eventually winds up married to Reeves; Lake fights a private battle against the Japanese, who killed her boyfriend at Pearl Harbor; and the showy Goddard evenly divides her time between the war and her romance with happy-go-lucky
Kansas lad Tufts.
Because of the popularity of its stars, the patriotic spirit of the film, and the novelty of female combat nurses, SO PROUDLY WE HAIL made a sizable dent in the box office. The critics praised its authenticity, which Sandrich went to great lengths to achieve. Having read a news item about 10
nurses who escaped the fall of Corregidor in May 1942, Sandrich, together with Scott, tracked them down. He hired one of them, Lt. Eunice Hatchitt, as a technical advisor and, after receiving permission from the government to tell the nurses' story, began filming. However, although certain to hit
box-office gold with Paramount's Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake, and Paulette Goddard as the stars, Sandrich was also destined to have a battle of egos on his hands. The feuding began when Goddard told a reporter that she preferred working with Lake because "after all, we are closer in age."
Colbert was naturally upset at the implication that she was over the hill (and, in fact, Goddard was wrong--her own birth date is usually cited as 1911, making her seven years younger than Colbert and eight years older than Lake). There were also arguments over how they were photographed and
rivalry over their respective technical skills. (Goddard and Lake were considered screen personalities, while only Colbert was viewed as an actress.) Often Sandrich would have to retake scenes many times to accommodate Lake's and Goddard's deficiencies, while Colbert needed no more than a couple
of takes. Fans of Lake and her famous peek-a-boo hairstyle should be forewarned that she wears her hair short in this picture. Reportedly, the government asked that she not appear as a servicewoman with that hairstyle because there were a number of women factory workers whose long, Lake-inspired
hair was getting tangled in the machinery.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: SO PROUDLY WE HAIL is a surprisingly unglamorous Hollywood depiction of the lives of three Army nurses (Goddard, Lake, and Colbert) who survive the battles at Bataan and Corregidor in WWII. The film begins as they arrive back home in the US, then relates t… (more)