Cast & Crew
During the Second World War, singer and actress Frances Langford receives approval from USO representative George Franklin to entertain American troops stationed in the Pacific. Frances forms a show with singers Ben Lessy and Tony Romano and within two weeks, the group flies into Port Morsby, where they are met by their military liaison and guide, Lt. Mike McCormick. Unknown to the singers, a young private, Elmo Slimmer, has told his buddies that when he was an usher in the States, he got to know Frances very well. Convinced that Elmo is lying, his friends hope to embarrass him when Frances arrives at their base. When Elmo learns that Frances is performing that night, he intentionally makes himself ill so he will be taken to the infirmary. Elmo's friends, however, convince Frances to visit the hospital after the show, but just before she arrives, Elmo desperately feigns an attack of insanity and is taken to a private area to meet with the base doctor, Capt. Sprock. Frances chats with all the patients and notes with curiosity a signed photo of herself over Elmo's empty cot and insists on meeting Elmo. Meanwhile, Elmo confesses to Capt. Sprock the reason for his behavior and while the doctor is sympathetic, he reminds Elmo that his unit is scheduled to be transferred to the front the following day. Elmo reluctantly returns to his unit and afterward, meeting with Capt. Sprock, Frances learns Elmo's story. Mike then drives Frances to the base, where she finds Elmo and, in front of his astonished friends, greets him enthusiastically and pretends to know him well. The next day, Frances, Ben, Tony and Mike depart for another Pacific island base where, because of limited space, Frances rooms with nurse Lt. Cathy Dietrich. While wandering the small camp with Mike, Frances recognizes former football great, Lt. Rocky Castro, and is saddened to discover that he has lost a leg in combat. That afternoon when Frances and Tony do an impromptu performance at the infirmary, Frances notes Rocky's departure and later follows him outside. Embittered by his injury, Rocky dismisses Frances' sincere admiration for his past career. That evening, Frances asks Cathy about Rocky and the nurse admits that despite being engaged to Rocky, she is unable to help him overcome his deep depression. Later, Cathy tells Rocky that she has submitted some of his drawings to a physician who believes that Rocky could illustrate for a medical journal. Rocky refuses the job, revealing that he has been offered a small financial scholarship through a sporting foundation set up by the camp's Col. Tappen, which he plans to accept, to Cathy's disappointment. After Cathy tells Frances about the incident, Frances visits Col. Tappen to plead with him to withdraw the scholarship, hoping to force Rocky to accept the illustrating job. The next day, Rocky visits Cathy to accuse her of meddling with Tappen. When Frances intervenes to explain, Rocky still holds Cathy responsible. That afternoon, while Frances, Ben and Tony perform a daytime show, there is an unexpected air raid. Cathy is seriously wounded in the attack and the camp physician, Maj. Green, informs Rocky that because of the unusual severity of Cathy's wound, he wants a visual record of their emergency surgery. As the unit's cameras have all been destroyed in the raid, Green asks Rocky to draw important details of the operation. Rocky initially refuses, then finally agrees. The operation and Rocky's sketches are a success. Cathy recovers and in several weeks is able to transfer stateside with a rejuvenated Rocky. Frances and the men continue their tour, but enroute to the next island, are blown off course by a storm and forced to crash-land on a tiny island that houses the American radar center for the Pacific. Unhurt, Frances, Ben and Tony agree to perform for the small unit, but during their show the next night, a Japanese attack force secretly lands on the island. Later, two American soldiers on patrol discover two guards murdered and engage with a small group from the Japanese force, which cuts short the nearby show. Mike orders Frances, Ben and Tony to remain well hidden and he and the men fend off the intense Japanese attack. After a long battle in which Mike is wounded, a large enemy task force is spotted by the radar controllers, who report to a nearby airbase, which directs an air attack in time to halt the Japanese assault. As Frances' tour draws to a close, she is pleased to learn that Mike has been selected to receive a Purple Heart medal. Frances presents the medal to Mike before she, Ben and Tony bid the troops farewell and return to the States.
Douglas F. Bank
George Offerman Jr.
The working title of this film was No Time for Tears. Information in the copyright files indicates that the film was released in sepia, but the print viewed was in black and white. Frances Langford was a popular singing star of the 1930s and 1940s and acted in several films in the 1940s and early 1950s. Langford was best known as the star of her own radio show and as a regular on Bob Hope's USO broadcasts during World War II. As indicated in the film's credits, Purple Heart Diary was based on a syndicated newspaper column that Langford authored from the mid-1940s through the early 1950s, chronicling her USO tours with Hope and concern for returning GIs. Langford received a number of awards for her work with soldiers and later entertained troops in Korea and Vietnam.