Three Came Home
|Three Came Home|
|Directed by||Jean Negulesco|
|Produced by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Written by||Nunnally Johnson (Agnes Newton Keith, autobiography)|
|Music by||Hugo Friedhofer|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels
Milton R. Krasner
|Edited by||Dorothy Spencer|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox|
|Running time||106 min.|
|Box office||$1.9 million (US rentals)|
Three Came Home (1950) is a post-war film made by Twentieth Century-Fox, based on the memoirs of the same name by writer Agnes Newton Keith. It depicts Keith's life in North Borneo in the period immediately before the Japanese invasion in 1942, and her subsequent internment and suffering, separated from her husband Harry, and with a young son to care for. Keith was initially interned at Berhala Island near Sandakan, North Borneo (today's Sabah) but spent most of her captivity at Batu Lintang camp at Kuching, Sarawak. The camp was liberated in September 1945.
American-born Agnes Keith (Colbert) and her British husband (Patric Knowles) live a cushioned colonial life in North Borneo with their young son in 1942. After the Japanese invasion, they are interned and then taken to separate prison camps, one for men, the other for women and children. Amid the brutality of the internment camp, the camp commander Lieutenant-Colonel Suga (Sessue Hayakawa) is respectful to Mrs Keith because he is familiar with her work, and is shown to be kind to the children even when his own family has died in Hiroshima.
- Claudette Colbert ... Agnes Newton Keith
- Patric Knowles ... Harry Keith
- Florence Desmond ... Betty Sommers
- Sessue Hayakawa ... Colonel Suga
- Sylvia Andrew ... Henrietta
- Mark Keuning ... George Keith
- Phyllis Morris ... Sister Rose
After principal photography was complete, Colbert told Negulesco "You know I'm not given to exaggeration so I hope you believe me when I say that working with you has been the most stimulating and happiest experience of my entire career."
"Miss Colbert's performance is a beautifully modulated display of moods and passions and explosions under most inhuman and unnatural stress and strain. And Mr. Hayakawa's calculation of the Japanese colonel is a rare accomplishment. But Patric Knowles is also excellent as the British husband of Mrs. Keith from whom she is early separated, and Florence Desmond is superb as a cheerful inmate in the prison camp. Indeed, a little fellow named Mark Keuning contributes immeasurably, too, as the 4-year-old son of the author to whom she desperately clings through her ordeal. Played against realistic settings, which vividly convey the meanness of the jungle prisons, and directed by Jean Negulesco for physical and emotional credibility, Three Came Home is a comprehensive film. It will shock you, disturb you, tear your heart out. But it will fill you fully with a great respect for a heroic soul."
According to Variety, "Agnes Newton Keith's deeply affecting autobiog [sic] ... has been turned from print to celluloid without any easing of the book's harrowing impact"; "Many of the scenes are tearjerkers in the better sense of the word."
In May 1985, and timed to correspond with Colbert's return to Broadway in a revival of Aren't We All?, Howard Thompson, reviewed the film in anticipation of its "rare TV showing" on cable's USA Network. He called it a "a peak in Miss Colbert's long and distinguished Hollywood career" and a "strong, compassionate film vividly evokes the horror and bleak futility of war." The film depicts "desperate women's fortitude, tenacity and love... Miss Colbert's honest, fervent portrayal - the same Miss Colbert now magnetizing Broadway in an airy, drawing-room bubble - mirrors it all." Thompson repeated his endorsement of the film a dozen years later when it was on the History Channel.
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- Leslie Halliwell. Halliwell's Film Guide to 8,000 English Language Films, Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1977; Granada, 1979.
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- Halliwell's Film Guide, 11th ed, 1995.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Three Came Home.|
- Three Came Home at the Internet Movie Database
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- Three Came Home at AllMovie
- Three Came Home on YouTube