Purple Hearts


1h 55m 1984
Purple Hearts

Brief Synopsis

A dedicated Army surgeon falls in love with an equally dedicated nurse but the Vietnam War is raging and the two find themselves pitted against greater odds than either of them know how to handle.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Romance
War
Release Date
1984
Location
American Lake, Washington, USA; Tacoma, Washington, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Synopsis

A dedicated Army surgeon falls in love with an equally dedicated nurse but the Vietnam War is raging and the two find themselves pitted against greater odds than either of them know how to handle.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Romance
War
Release Date
1984
Location
American Lake, Washington, USA; Tacoma, Washington, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Articles

Purple Hearts


Following the success of the Vietnam War drama The Boys in Company C (1978), writer-director Sidney J. Furie started planning another film set in that conflict. Again co-written with Rick Natkin, this idea turned into Purple Hearts (1984), a romantic melodrama that failed to match its predecessor at the box office or with the critics.

Purple Hearts was produced by The Ladd Company, an adventurous outfit that had a string of bombs that led them to insist on lower budgets. A sampling includes: Love Child (1982), Five Days One Summer (1982), Lovesick (1983) and their biggest money loser of all, The Right Stuff (1983). They had been involved with films as wide-ranging as Body Heat (1981), Chariots of Fire (1981) and Blade Runner (1982), but their books were in the red. As reported in the AFI Catalog, Furie was given $2.8 million to make Purple Hearts, which he thought was workable by shooting the film in the Philippines, as he did on Company C. The rest of The Ladd Company's 1984 was made up of Police Academy, which became a huge hit, and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, on which they edited without Leone's input (it lost money anyway). The company essentially dissolved in 1984 after Warner Bros. ended their partnership, though they revived in 1995 to make Braveheart.

Furie aimed for intimacy this time around, focusing on the romance between Dr. Don Jardian (Ken Wahl) and Nurse Deborah Solomon (Cheryl Ladd), who are continually split up by the war. Furie had Ken Wahl in mind from the beginning of the script process but auditioned over one hundred actresses for the role of Deborah. It was Ladd's first starring role in a feature, though she had already become a TV sensation on Charlie's Angels. The Ladd Company was headed by Alan Ladd Jr., who was the half-brother of Cheryl's husband, David Ladd, who surely had some influence in the casting decision.

The film opened with the following dedication: "This film is dedicated to the 347,309 Americans who received the Purple Heart awarded for wounds suffered in the Vietnam Conflict." But the war, and the soldiers, are a backdrop to the central story here, which is a circuitous love story that takes place across Vietnam as Don and Deborah are continually thwarted in finding each other.

Don Jardian is a hotshot doctor who could have evaded the draft, but instead embraces his duty as a true test of skill. His path first intersects with Donna at a hospital in Da Nang, where she is working on one of his patients. Don is immediately attracted to her, but Donna keeps her distance, wary of being just one of Don's conquests. Upon return to base, Don can't get her out of his head, and he spends the rest of the movie moving heaven and Earth to get next to her again. His selfless passion eventually wins Debora over, but the war keeps getting in the way, as Don is recruited for a secret mission to free POWs, and Deborah's hospital comes under attack. Both of their deaths seem assured, but somehow their love endures.

The liveliest sections of the film involve the supporting characters - like Don's vulgar doctor buddy Wizard (Stephen Lee), who brings an off-kilter energy to the film. James Whitmore Jr. (the son of James Whitmore), who was also in The Boys in Company C, pops up as an idiosyncratic squad leader who leads the rescue mission. These were the kind of colorfully detailed performances that aided Company C but get limited screen time here.

Whether it was an inability to create chemistry between Wahl and Ladd, or too much of a reliance on coincidence in the plotting, Purple Hearts failed to catch on with critics or audiences. The reviewers were not kind. Roger Ebert gave the film half a star in the Chicago Sun-Times, writing, "This isn't war, this is bad plotting. And this isn't romance, it's soap opera." Janet Maslin at the New York Times wasn't much kinder, saying it has "an ending so contrived it may make your teeth ache." The box office returns didn't offer much solace either, as it took in $2,075,282, not enough to make back its budget.

By R. Emmet Sweeney
Purple Hearts

Purple Hearts

Following the success of the Vietnam War drama The Boys in Company C (1978), writer-director Sidney J. Furie started planning another film set in that conflict. Again co-written with Rick Natkin, this idea turned into Purple Hearts (1984), a romantic melodrama that failed to match its predecessor at the box office or with the critics. Purple Hearts was produced by The Ladd Company, an adventurous outfit that had a string of bombs that led them to insist on lower budgets. A sampling includes: Love Child (1982), Five Days One Summer (1982), Lovesick (1983) and their biggest money loser of all, The Right Stuff (1983). They had been involved with films as wide-ranging as Body Heat (1981), Chariots of Fire (1981) and Blade Runner (1982), but their books were in the red. As reported in the AFI Catalog, Furie was given $2.8 million to make Purple Hearts, which he thought was workable by shooting the film in the Philippines, as he did on Company C. The rest of The Ladd Company's 1984 was made up of Police Academy, which became a huge hit, and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, on which they edited without Leone's input (it lost money anyway). The company essentially dissolved in 1984 after Warner Bros. ended their partnership, though they revived in 1995 to make Braveheart. Furie aimed for intimacy this time around, focusing on the romance between Dr. Don Jardian (Ken Wahl) and Nurse Deborah Solomon (Cheryl Ladd), who are continually split up by the war. Furie had Ken Wahl in mind from the beginning of the script process but auditioned over one hundred actresses for the role of Deborah. It was Ladd's first starring role in a feature, though she had already become a TV sensation on Charlie's Angels. The Ladd Company was headed by Alan Ladd Jr., who was the half-brother of Cheryl's husband, David Ladd, who surely had some influence in the casting decision. The film opened with the following dedication: "This film is dedicated to the 347,309 Americans who received the Purple Heart awarded for wounds suffered in the Vietnam Conflict." But the war, and the soldiers, are a backdrop to the central story here, which is a circuitous love story that takes place across Vietnam as Don and Deborah are continually thwarted in finding each other. Don Jardian is a hotshot doctor who could have evaded the draft, but instead embraces his duty as a true test of skill. His path first intersects with Donna at a hospital in Da Nang, where she is working on one of his patients. Don is immediately attracted to her, but Donna keeps her distance, wary of being just one of Don's conquests. Upon return to base, Don can't get her out of his head, and he spends the rest of the movie moving heaven and Earth to get next to her again. His selfless passion eventually wins Debora over, but the war keeps getting in the way, as Don is recruited for a secret mission to free POWs, and Deborah's hospital comes under attack. Both of their deaths seem assured, but somehow their love endures. The liveliest sections of the film involve the supporting characters - like Don's vulgar doctor buddy Wizard (Stephen Lee), who brings an off-kilter energy to the film. James Whitmore Jr. (the son of James Whitmore), who was also in The Boys in Company C, pops up as an idiosyncratic squad leader who leads the rescue mission. These were the kind of colorfully detailed performances that aided Company C but get limited screen time here. Whether it was an inability to create chemistry between Wahl and Ladd, or too much of a reliance on coincidence in the plotting, Purple Hearts failed to catch on with critics or audiences. The reviewers were not kind. Roger Ebert gave the film half a star in the Chicago Sun-Times, writing, "This isn't war, this is bad plotting. And this isn't romance, it's soap opera." Janet Maslin at the New York Times wasn't much kinder, saying it has "an ending so contrived it may make your teeth ache." The box office returns didn't offer much solace either, as it took in $2,075,282, not enough to make back its budget. By R. Emmet Sweeney

Lane Smith (1936-2005)


Lane Smith, a veteran character actor of stage, screen and television, and who was best known to modern viewers as Perry White on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, died on June 13 at his Los Angeles home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 29, 1936, Smith had a desire to act from a very young age. After a brief stint in the Army, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio and made his debut on off-Broadway debut in 1959. For the next 20 years, Smith was a staple of the New York stage before sinking his teeth into television: Kojak, The Rockford Files, Dallas; and small parts in big films: Rooster Cogburn (1975), Network (1976).

In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to focus on better film roles, and his toothy grin and southern drawl found him a niche in backwoods dramas: Resurrection (1980), Honeysuckle Rose (1980); and a prominent role as the feisty Mayor in the dated Cold War political yarn Red Dawn (1984).

Smith returned to New York in 1984 and scored a hit on Broadway when he received a starring role in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and earned a drama desk award in the process. His breakthrough role for many critics and colleagues was his powerful turn as Richard Nixon in The Final Days (1989); a docudrama based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his spot-on portrayal of the fallen President, and his career picked up from there as parts in prominent Hollywood films came his way: Air America (1990), My Cousin Vinny, The Mighty Ducks (both 1992), and the Pauly Shore comedy Son in Law (1993).

For all his dependable performances over the years, Smith wasn't a familiar presence to millions of viewers until he landed the plump role of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman: Lois and Clark which co-starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (1993-1997). After that run, he gave a scorching performance as Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the teleplay Inherit the Wind (1999); and he appeared last in the miniseries Out of Order (2003). He is survived by his wife Debbie; and son, Rob.

by Michael T. Toole

Lane Smith (1936-2005)

Lane Smith, a veteran character actor of stage, screen and television, and who was best known to modern viewers as Perry White on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, died on June 13 at his Los Angeles home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69. Born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 29, 1936, Smith had a desire to act from a very young age. After a brief stint in the Army, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio and made his debut on off-Broadway debut in 1959. For the next 20 years, Smith was a staple of the New York stage before sinking his teeth into television: Kojak, The Rockford Files, Dallas; and small parts in big films: Rooster Cogburn (1975), Network (1976). In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to focus on better film roles, and his toothy grin and southern drawl found him a niche in backwoods dramas: Resurrection (1980), Honeysuckle Rose (1980); and a prominent role as the feisty Mayor in the dated Cold War political yarn Red Dawn (1984). Smith returned to New York in 1984 and scored a hit on Broadway when he received a starring role in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and earned a drama desk award in the process. His breakthrough role for many critics and colleagues was his powerful turn as Richard Nixon in The Final Days (1989); a docudrama based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his spot-on portrayal of the fallen President, and his career picked up from there as parts in prominent Hollywood films came his way: Air America (1990), My Cousin Vinny, The Mighty Ducks (both 1992), and the Pauly Shore comedy Son in Law (1993). For all his dependable performances over the years, Smith wasn't a familiar presence to millions of viewers until he landed the plump role of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman: Lois and Clark which co-starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (1993-1997). After that run, he gave a scorching performance as Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the teleplay Inherit the Wind (1999); and he appeared last in the miniseries Out of Order (2003). He is survived by his wife Debbie; and son, Rob. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States May 1984

Released in United States Spring May 1, 1984

Completed shooting February 1984.

Released in United States May 1984

Released in United States Spring May 1, 1984