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A gothic barn: inside the former church of the Abbaye d'Ardenne, Normandie, France. c1900s.

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The abbey was badly damaged during WWII, having been used as a regimental HQ by the Nazis, who while there executed 20 captured Canadian soldiers in what become known as the Ardenne Abbey Massacre, in 1944.  

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The grounds now contain a Canadian war memorial, and the church was restored during the 1990s-2000s to house a library/archive.

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Excerpt from “D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II” authored by Stephen E. Ambrose

Private Reisenleiter of the 508th was in a field across from one where a glider came down. In the dark, with the hedgerows looming above him, he could hardly tell what was going on. He heard some crashing about on the other side and called out, “Flash.”

“Flash your ass,” the answer came back. “They’re killing us out here and we’re getting the hell out of here.” Reisenleiter let them go; he figured only an American could have given such a response to the challenge.

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Incredibly informative little booklet on entry into the RCAF during WWII.

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Basic Story: After the Philippines fall to the Japanese, Colonel Joseph Madden stays on to organize guerrilla fighting.

Fan Thoughts: Set in 1942, Colonel Joseph Madden (John Wayne) is chosen to organize Filipinos to fight as guerrillas behind enemy lines.  While on their first mission, they run into American schoolteacher Bertha Barnes (Beulah Bondi), who joins the guerrillas, along with her students, after watching the Principal of their school be hung by the Japanese Army for refusing to lower the American flag at the school.  Continuing on, Madden and the guerrillas run into the Bataan Death March, and learn that Bataan has fallen.  In order to boost the spirits of the guerrillas, Madden rescues Captain Andrés Bonifácio (Anthony Quinn) from the march; Bonifácio is the grandson of Andrés Bonifácio, a national hero.  Together they take revenge on the Japanese officer who hung the principal, then spend the next year attacking the Japanese installations with their guerrilla force.  When the guerrillas attack a ceremony meant to reduce Filipino resistance, Captain Bonifácio unites with his sweetheart Dalisay Delgado (Fely Franquelli), who had been accused of collaborating with the Japanese by broadcasting propaganda over the radio but was actually transmitting vital information to the Allies.  One of the children who joined the group after his Principal was killed, Maximo, is captured during the attack and forced to lead the Japanese to the guerrillas hideout; instead he grabs the wheel of the transport truck and plunges it into a ravine - sacrificing himself to keep the guerrillas safe.  Madden is called away, returning months later with new orders to block Japanese reinforcements from hindering the landing of American forces.  The film is bookended by footage of actual American soldiers released from the Cabanatuan prison camp.  The biggest issue I have with the film is that Captain Andrés Bonifácio is portrayed by Anthony Quinn, who is not Filipino, yet all the guerrillas are portrayed by actual Filipino actors which only highlights this fact.  The script is a little all over the place as far as pacing and evenness, which in part is due to re-writes during filming to keep up with the changing news from the war in the Pacific.  Tonally it is very different from Bataan, despite it naturally being viewed as a sequel to it, again this is mostly due to the changing script.  Unsurprisingly it is heavy on American patriotism but its also heavy on Filipino nationalism, the bravery and importance on the Filipino guerrillas is highlighted.  This emphasis on Filipino bravery is a positive point, but the weak script, and the fact that the leader of the guerrillas isn’t Filipino, makes this one of the less appealing films from this era.

Warnings: body hung from a flagpole, child dies onscreen, wartime action sequences

Available On: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube, iTunes

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