A Town Like Alice In 1941, The advancing Japanese army captures a lot of British territory very quickly. The men are sent off to labor camps, but they have no plan on what to do with the women and children of the British. A group is sent on a forced march from place to place searching for a Women’s Camp. Told from the point of view of one of the women, she meets an Australian soldier who sneaks food for them from his labor camp. After the war, she goes to Australia to see the town he was from and hopefully reunite with the soldier.
An often overlooked subject in WWII films
A Town Like Alice I have just posted a comment on “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence” directed by Nagisa Oshima in the early 1980s. The main originality of MCML does not lie in its subject, as other films have dealt with Prisoner-of-War camps under the Japanese rule, the most famous of them remaining “The Bridge on the River Kwai” by David Lean (1957). As MCML is a much more recent film, it might be considered as a more realistic approach to the daily life in a camp under such circumstances; yet realistic films on this subject appeared as early as in the 1950s with works like “A Town like Alice” directed by Jack Lee, which was rejected in its time by the Cannes Film Festival for its shocking content and violence — a sharp contrast with often romanticized productions where war has a glamorous aspect. “A Town like Alice” is also original for it tells war from the point of view of women, and women in conflicts are often ignored by war movies.
It has been years now since I watched “A Town like Alice”. I remember it as a good and honest film about the conflict with the Japanese in the Far East. Virginia McKenna as a British nurse and Peter Finch were both convincing. It may be not the best film on WWII, yet it has an authenticity and favors a psychological and realistic approach to the characters than can attract many viewers, not just war movies freaks.
By the way, the title is a reference to the town of Alice Springs, where the story ends.