Classic Movie Reviews

Go for Broke Review


The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 provoked one of the least honorable actions ever undertaken by the U. S. government -- the confinement in "War Relocation Camps" of more than 150,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were citizens, many born in the U. S. Succumbing to an avalanche of pressure from members of Congress, newspapers and state government officials, President Roosevelt in February 1942 issued the infamous Executive Order 9066, authorizing local military officials to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones." The order was applied most aggressively in the Pacific Coast states, especially California, and to a lesser degree in some other Western states. The Japanese-Americans were given only a few days in many cases to dispose of their homes, farms and businesses and prepare to be evacuated. Their fellow Americans didn't fail to take advantage of the situation to buy those properties at a fraction of their value. Most of the soldiers in the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated U. S. combat unit of World War II, had family members confined in the relocation camps. In January 1945 the exclusion order was rescinded. Internees were given $25 and a train ticket to their former home areas. The last camp was not closed until 1946. In 1988 Congress passed, and President Reagan signed, legislation that apologized for the internment and authorized more than 1.6 billion dollars in reparation payments, far short of the amount lost by the Japanese-American community.

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          "Go For Broke" is the battle cry of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. An almost factual rendering of the storied 442nd RCT (which absorbed the earlier 100th Battalion), made up of Japanese-American (Nisei) soldiers with (at first) all white officers. Van Johnson is very unhappy to be transferred from his Texas National Guard division to become one of those officers. Time and experience change his outlook. The 442nd ended the war as the most highly decorated unit in the U. S. Army.


         The cast includes Lane Nakano, Henry Nakamura, George Miki, Henry Oyasato and Warner Anderson. A thought-provoking exploration of the racial bias in the American military as a reflection of American society. Only slowly over the last few decades has the situation changed, at least in terms of official policies.

1951, Directed by Robert Pirosh.

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