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Go for Broke!

(1951 b 92')

En: 5 Ed: 6

Japanese-American volunteers are trained and led by a Texan, and they fight Germans in Italy and France with determination and skill.

         In 1943 soldiers in the 442nd Regiment train in Mississippi. Lt. Michael Grayson (Van Johnson) arrives and asks Col. Charles Pence (Warner Anderson) for a transfer, which is denied. Grayson knows the Japanese were relocated from the west coast into internment camps, but Pence says these are all volunteers who have been investigated. They are to be called Nisei or Buddhaheads, not Japs. Grayson goes into the barracks and tells Sergeant Ohhara (Henry Oyasato) to put them all on report for messiness.

         After more training they ship out for Italy. They march through Naples toward Rome. Grayson visits pretty Rosina (Gianna Canale); but Kaz (Ken K. Okamoto) forgets to tell him when they leave. Grayson and Rosina drink wine and kiss. Grayson runs to catch up and finds them in a camp.

         Three men looking for water are shot at by Germans on a hill. They attack them and kill them with grenades. Tommy (Henry Nakamura) adopts a little pig. During combat squadron leaders are told to go up front. An Italian family tries to buy Tommy’s pig, but he refuses to sell. Sam (Lane Nakano) reads to Tommy his letter.

         Col. Pence tells Grayson that his Texas 36th passed by and left. Grayson says he signed up to kill Japs but finds himself fighting with them. Pence asks him if he is prejudiced by slanted eyes or skin color. In battle Tommy fires mortars and is wounded in the leg. Germans surrender.

         They ship out to France. From Marseilles they travel on a train in a box car. During a stop Grayson hears women singing “The Eyes of Texas.” Pence tells Grayson they are attached to the Texas 36th. Ohhara is promoted, and Grayson is assigned to headquarters.

         Tommy picks up his pig from a hungry family and gives it to them. Grayson hears music and finds his old Sergeant Wilson Culley (Don Haggerty) and tells him not to call them Japs. They go outside and fight. Sam gets a letter that his brother picking sugar beets was beat up.

         Ohhara tells the men that Grayson’s unit is surrounded, and they have to fight. Col. Pence gets information from German prisoners and plans an attack to rescue the lost battalion. Tommy tells Sam they will go for broke. Ohhara is killed, and others are wounded. They use Japanese to fool Germans using English on the radio. They clear mines for a tank to take the ridge. Sam leads men down the hill to ambush retreating Germans. They find Grayson, who calls out, “Bakatare” and learns it is a curse word they have been calling him. Sgt. Culley is grateful to be rescued and says Grayson taught him to call them Buddhaheads. They fight Germans and take prisoners.

         They return to the United States and are honored for their combat in Washington.

         This patriotic docudrama reflects changed attitudes toward the Japanese and the current Korean War in which the United States is fighting on the side of South Korea. The prolog includes an important quote from President Roosevelt, “Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry."

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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