Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Jungle Patrol (1948)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Jungle Patrol (1948)

In Joseph M. Newman's rarely-seen, stage-bound war drama set in a WWII remote airstrip in New Guinea in 1942, with impressive off-screen audio from a radio (to re-enact dogfight battle sequences against the Japanese during WWII):

  • the film's opening (voice-over) narration: "This is not a story of war, but of men, boys really. Eight of them who were here in New Guinea, not because they wanted to be, but because there was a job to be done, and someone had to do it. In the fall of 1942, the Japanese were less than 30 miles from our base at Port Moresby - our first step on the long and bitter struggle to Tokyo. This base was surrounded by only a few airstrips such as this one. Here there were no more than eight airplanes, expected every morning and every evening, to intercept the Japanese flights that threatened Australia"
  • the film's cast: a group of eight US AF officer-pilots in the fall of 1942 during WWII were stationed in a remote outpost at Port Moresby, New Guinea; they were flying heroic daily missions against Japanese bombers and fighter planes threatening Australia; the ace pilots mostly talked about their loved ones at home, their interest in the opposite sex, or the effects of fate each day as they faced their destiny and death
  • the first to be specifically introduced: Lt. "Mace" Willard (Arthur Franz in his film debut); the pilots were led by squadron leader Major "Skipper" Wright (Ross Ford), their "old man" CO or flight commander
  • so far, there had been no casualties, although they superstitiously believed their invincibility and luck was running out after over 100 successful runs (with no deaths); it was regarded as "a pretty good score" but also "could be a jinx" if a 'Scoreboard' (keeping tally of the carnage) was kept out in the open
  • the mentioned similarities between the squadron and the film Death Takes a Holiday (1934) by Lt. Dick Carter (Richard Jaeckel); in the film, the character of Death took a brief vacation, as "Mace" mused: "If you get a bullet in the head, you may die. If you don't, you may not. There's no guarantee either way. If you're a guy whose luck is bad, you're taking just as many chances walking in the park as you are sticking your neck into a prop"
Major Characters
Lt. "Mace" Willard
(Arthur Franz)
Major "Skipper" Wright (Ross Ford)
Some of the Pilots
(l to r): Skipper, Jean, Mace
  • the unexpected arrival of pretty blonde USO entertainer Jean Gillis (Kristine Miller) on a supply plane from Brisbane (Australia); at the sight of his first female in 6 months, Lt. Louie Rasti's (Mickey Knox) first reaction was that she was a suspected Japanese "booby trap"!; she was a Broadway actress and former anti-war activist who joined the USO after her husband Tom's death at Dunkirk
  • the tense scene of ace pilot Lt. "Ham" Hamilton (Tommy Noonan) presumably shot down by a Japanese plane - pictured only by off-screen audio-radio transmissions and a view of the radio's speaker, although he eventually radioed back that he was unharmed (he had been chased by two Jap planes into a cloud); when he landed back at the base, he reported that the flames of his plane suddenly and mysteriously extinguished
  • the sequence when Jean updated the 'Scoreboard' and displayed it prominently in the primitive Officers Club - to the consternation of most of the crew; when she asked: "Aren't you proud of it?" - the men met her with stony silence; the Skipper finally answered her: "Nobody's that good"; however, a vote was taken and the Scoreboard remained in place
  • the scenes of Jean's growing closeness to the group of men, when she learned about the pilots' wives and girlfriends and their hopes for the future after the war
  • the sequence of Jean's improvised and impromptu one-girl entertainment show for the men (when three other members of her female troupe and a piano player were grounded in Townsville, Queensland, Australia); after performing some songs for the all-male audience, she ordered the men to stand in line to wait their turn for a short dance with her on the stage (with different musical styles); she also performed in a conga-line with all of them
Jean's One-Girl Entertainment Show
  • the scene of Jean's late-night delivery of an emotional song in the privacy of the Officers Club quarters after the show: "Forever and Always" - when the entire group of eight fliers experienced a nostalgic epiphany
  • in the film's sole romantic sequence, the Skipper escorted and walked Jean back to her tent for the night, and they shared mutual feelings about being "scared"; their discussion about his plane's speed that "takes your breath away" was a veiled reference to his feelings about her, and they kissed before a fade to black
  • in the film's ending, the squadron was "scrambled" to defend the airstrip from a swarming attack, while "Mace" took over ground control from the "Skipper" who decided to join his men in the air (Jean kissed him to wish "good luck" and was distraught that he might be killed during the mission); the pilots were outnumbered and began to suffer casualties; when two of the pilots were killed, "Mace" felt compelled to fly; then reports came in that all of the pilots had been shot down, and that "Skipper" was missing; suddenly however, "Skipper" appeared after landing his plane safely and took control of the radio - he learned that "Mace" was surrounded by enemy Japanese fighters and doomed to crash and die, and all the others were lost
  • at the airstrip (under attack by numerous Japanese planes), Jean huddled together with "Skipper" - her romantic love interest; she bolstered up his spirit as the remote airstrip was being destroyed: ("You did your best. Darling, no one can do more than their best"); the two faced a very ambiguous future as the base was completely obliterated, and the Officers Club was bombed
Jean and "Mace" Listening to Vicious Dogfights on Radio
Jean Kissing "Skipper" Good Luck
Jean and "Skipper" Huddled Together During Destructive Attack on Base
  • the narrator's final words: "These boys did more than their best. Theirs is the spirit that led to victory"

Opening Prologue (Slow Zoom Into a Map of New Guinea)

One of the US AF Airplanes on Port Moresby Airstrip, Surrounded by Jungle

Most of the Crew Members at Breakfast Before the Day's Mission

The Casualty Scoreboard

Jean Gillis (Kristine Miller)

Radio Transmission of Conflict With a Japanese Plane

Jean's Display of Scoreboard: "Aren't you proud of it?"

Jean's Song: "Forever and Always"

Romance Between Jean and Skipper

Last Image: Scoreboard Under Ruins of Officers Club


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