The Purple Plain

Synopsis: After losing his bride in a Luftwaffe air raid, bomber pilot Forrester becomes a solitary killing machine, who doesn't care whether he dies. The reckless Canadian pilot is both admired and feared by the rest of his squadron in World War II Burma. The squadron physician is assigned to determine the embittered Bill Forrester's fitness for duty. To break through the nightmare-haunted man's wall of silence, the physician drives Forrester to visit an outpost of English-speaking refugees, which includes an alluring young Burmese woman.
Genre: Adventure, Drama, War
Director(s): Robert Parrish
Production: United Artists
100 min

Ralph! Why isn't this plane

ready to fly?

You want us all to be blown

to kingdom come? Get going!

What's the matter with you?

What are you trying to do?

What are you trying to do?

You idiot!

Sorry, sir.

Are you all right?

Everything's okay, sir.

There's no bombing.

Are you sure you're feeling all right?

- l'll get Dr. Harris up here.

- No, wait a minute.

l'm all right. l'm fine.

l thought...

You'd better get some sleep, sir.

You're on the first flight in the morning.


All right, Sergeant, fine.


Black Dog Leader to squadron.

Light flak ahead.

Let's get above it. Over.

Red Two to Leader,

message received. Out.

What's the matter?

Didn't you hear the C.O.'s orders?

Leader to Red Two,

what's your trouble?

- What is your trouble?

- Didn't you hear the orders?

Leader to Red TWo,

are you receiving me?

- AcknoWledge.

- Can't you hear the orders?

AcknoWledge. Over.

Leader to Red TWo, do you--

Okay, Doc.

Got him?

Yep. Now, gently does it.

Hello, Doc.

See the conquering hero come.

- What was it, cannon shell?

- Ack-ack. l put on a tourniquet.


Have you released the tourniquet

since it was put on?

- No, Doc, l left it all for you.

- Oh, good.

How soon?

- l guess about a couple of days, sir.

- What do you mean, a couple of days?

Well, sir, it's probably chewed up

all the cables inside, and l don't think--

l don't care what you don't think.

Just get it fixed, but quick.

That'll be all right till we get you to hospital.

A few minutes more won't hurt you.

We'll try not to shake you up

too much on the way.

You can shake

as much as you like, Doc.

Oh? Feeling good, eh?

- l feel fine. So would you.

- What, with a piece out of my arm?

Sure, if it meant you didn't have to fly

anymore with a raving lunatic.

Where's that ruddy fool

think he's going?

Hey, look out!

Round the bend, Nobby, boy.

Right round the bend.

All right, driver.

- Well, Doc?

- Hello, sir.

The arm's all right.

l'll evacuate him to Calcutta tomorrow.

But you won't be

seeing him again for a month or two.

l guessed that.

l've asked for a replacement.

We're a bit short

of navigators at the moment.

What l really came to talk

to you about is our problem boy.


What about him?

Didn't his navigator

tell you what happened?

- Yes, he did.

- Well?

Not my department, is it, sir?

Well, yes, Doc, l think it is.

This isn't the first time, and you know it.

- Nothing wrong with his nerve, is there?

- No, nothing.

Except l think he's round the bend.

What, because he went in without orders

and pranged some ack-ack guns?

Some people would

call that a very good show.

Well, l don't. l'd say he was

trying to get himself wrapped up.

Look, Doc, l know he volunteered

for this show, l know he's a good man,

but l'm going to

have to get rid of him.

You think he's cracking up.

No, l don't.

l think he cracked up years ago.

That's not what his record says.

First-class fighter pilot,

Battle of Britain, DSO and the rest.

He must have taken

a few chances in his time.

Does the record say

they were always necessary?

The fact is he's beginning to give

people the willies and he'll have to go.

lf what you say is true, sir,

l should think that'd

just about finish him.

Well, have you got

any other suggestions?

- What about talking to him?

- l just have. Tore a strip off him.

- What did he say?

- Nothing.

Matter of fact,

he made me feel a complete fool.

Yes, l've noticed he has that effect.

All the same, sir, l'd like to talk to him

before you do anything drastic.

All right.

Don't be too long about it.

See you at dinner.

Don't tell me you find it hot.

This is really the springtime.

The real heat begins in June, the rain.

- Bet you just love that.

- l don't love it.

Bet you really get warmed up then

and get some letters written.

- l write home every day.

- Only once a day? You're slipping.

Of course,

heat affects people different ways.

Now, take me.

l watch my health,

take plenty of salt, of course,

but l think the real secret

is in one's mental attitude.

Now, l've got responsibilities--

a wife in England, a family,

an important job.

But it's no use moping.

You know, the trouble

with you flying people is that

you're not interested

in anything else but flying.

There's a world, people.

You don't care.

You need a home, children,

a thought for the future.

Now, if you were married

and knew that when the war was over,

you had a wife to go back to...

What? What?

What's the matter?

- l thought you said something.

- That was hours ago.

Now, l say, that's the trouble with you--

no outside responsibilities.

You want a wife and family

and thought for the future.

Now, if you were married and knew

that when the war was over, you could--



- Been looking for you.

- Something you wanted?

l wondered if you'd care

for a trip out of camp--

a village across the plain,

Christian community.

What makes you think l had

anything to do with Christian communities?

lt's just a trip, half an hour.

- You go.

- Really nice people.

Very interesting, pure Burmese.

They speak English.

l buy fruit from them.

Well, you bring me back

a nice cold melon, will you, Doc?

What's this?

To kill or not to kill,

that's all. That's--

Strange how fascinating

death can be, isn't it?


- ls that why you became a doctor?

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Eric Ambler

Eric Clifford Ambler OBE (28 June 1909 – 22 October 1998) was an influential British author of thrillers, in particular spy novels, who introduced a new realism to the genre. He also worked as a screenwriter. Ambler used the pseudonym Eliot Reed for books co-written with Charles Rodda. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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