|Gregory Peck in one of my all time favorite films.|
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The Purple Plain is another one of Gregory Peck's movies that is just totally forgotten when his long and full filmography is being combed through. It was made right after last week's Gregory Peck essential, The Man with a Million. My feelings about The Man with a Million is exactly how I feel about The Purple Plain, and perhaps even more so.
Based off the novel of the same name by H.E. Bates, the film in itself is, to me, an oddity. I say this because while there is action, it's more of a psychological action film, and then toward the last half of the film, a psychological survival of the fittest action film.
While there are other actors that could have pulled this kind of film and role perfectly well, I do not believe that many could have done it as well or better than Gregory Peck. I say this because Gregory was such an intelligent man, he valued knowledge, and he liked to learn. I do not know how he felt about this role, or how many others feel about it, but Leonard Maltin, Director Martin Scorsese, and I all agree that it's a fine film with Maltin saying: "Absorbing Eric Ambler scripted drama of love, loss, and survival during World War II, charting the plight of disaffected pilot Peck . . ." Scorsese saying in the April Highlights on TCM: "Peck's performance takes on a genuinely spiritual dimension, and he is absolutely mesmerizing." I say: Ditto to both.
|Flight Commander Bill Forrester|
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As was The Man with a Million, The Purple Plain was filmed on location, but this time in Sigaria, Ceylon which is now Sri Lanka. The terrain is quite beautiful, and, as it apparent throughout the whole picture, extremely hot. I can only wonder how extremely tiring this shoot was, and how much it physically demanded of all of the actors because of the heat.
|Maurice Denham as Blore.|
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|Bernard Lee as Dr. Harris.|
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There's one scene in The Purple Plain that got to me. Forrester finds a little Burmese boy (or girl, I can't quite tell) teasing a lizard. The boy is blocking the lizard's escape though the lizard isn't trying to escape because it's afraid for it's life. Forrester sits down and watches. Dr. Harris comes up on him and asks him if he would like to take a trip with him to a Burmese Christian community. "Really nice people," he says. "Very interesting. Pure Burmese. They speak English. I buy fruit from them."
"Well, you bring me back a nice cold melon, would you?" Forrester replies sarcastically.
Dr. Harris catching sight of the little boy "playing" with the lizard asks, "What's this?"
"Kill or not to kill, that's all. That's--" Forrester stars to say, but stops at the sound of a loud SMACK! Dr. Harris looks over at the boy and sees him poke his finger at the now dead lizard.
All he and Forrester can do is stare. Finally, Dr. Harris turns to him and says, "Strange how fascinating death can be, isn't it?"
Indeed it is. This small scene is a big key to the film. It may not seem that way at first, but it really is.
The Purple Plain is a small film in Gregory's filmography, but one that should definitely be seen. It's a fascinating film that probes into the psyche of a man's mind, and how he learns to deal with a harrowing experience in his life to overcome that of another. I give this film 3.5/4 stars.