“I think he cracked up years ago.”
A Canadian RAF pilot (Gregory Peck) struggling with flashbacks to his wife’s death is taken by a kind doctor (Bernard Lee) to visit the home of a missionary (Brenda de Banzie) in Burma, where he meets and falls in love with a beautiful young nurse’s aide (Win Min Than). Soon Peck’s trauma decreases enough that he’s able to help support his crew through a dangerous and unexpected crash landing.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Airplanes and Pilots
- Character Arc
- Gregory Peck Films
- Mental Breakdown
- World War II
Former child-actor-turned-editor Robert Parrish didn’t get a chance to direct many films, but this BAFTA-nominated feature remains among his best. Evoking memories of his starring turn in Twelve O’Clock High (1949), Peck once again plays a fighter pilot under pressure, with Parrish making good use of atmospheric flashbacks to give us context for why Peck has “cracked up”:
The storyline then shifts into two new directions: Peck’s budding romance with Than —
… and a gripping crash-survival scenario.
As DVD Savant notes, the overall storyline “hits an emotional chord” through a story (by Eric Ambler) whose “details have an unspoken feeling of faith and abiding inner peace.” Indeed, it’s refreshing seeing Peck (in yet another fine performance) being given a new chance at life after the grief he’s suffered.
Also of note is British character actress Brenda de Banzie in a memorable role as an earnest, hymn-belting missionary:
While The Purple Plain isn’t must-see viewing, it’s recommended as a “good show”.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Gregory Peck as Bill Forrester
- Brenda de Banzie as Miss McNab
- Geoffrey Unsworth’s cinematography
No, but it’s recommended for one-time viewing.