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American Guerrilla in the Philippines

original film poster
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Lamar Trotti
Written by Ira Wolfert,
Iliff David Richardson (book)
Lamar Trotti (screenplay)
Narrated by Jack Elam
Starring Tyrone Power
Micheline Presle
Release date(s) November 8, 1950
Running time 105 minutes
Country  United States
Language English

American Guerrilla in the Philippines (released as I Shall Return in the UK) is a 1950 war film starring Tyrone Power as a U.S. Navy ensign stranded by the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Based on the story of Iliff David Richardson, it was directed by Fritz Lang and filmed on location.



In the summer of 1942, an American motor torpedo boat is destroyed by Japanese planes. The survivors, among them Ensign Chuck Palmer (Tyrone Power), make their way ashore. Their commander orders them to split up. Chuck pairs up with Jim Mitchell (Tom Ewell) and reaches Colonel Benson, only to be told that he has been ordered by General Douglas MacArthur to surrender his forces soon.

Chuck helps Jeanne Martinez (Micheline Presle), a Frenchwoman married to a Filipino planter, get medical assistance for a pregnant woman. Jeanne pleads with Chuck to stay and fight, but he buys a sailboat and recruits a crew in a desperate, but unsuccessful attempt to reach Australia. When the boat founders, the crew is rescued by Miguel (Tommy Cook), a member of the Filipino resistance. The Americans evade capture and Chuck eventually meets Jeanne again, as well as her husband Juan (Juan Torena), a secret supporter of the resistance movement.

Chuck is ordered to stay in the Philippines to help set up a network to gather intelligence on the Japanese. Later, Juan is beaten to death in front of Jeanne in an attempt to find out where the guerrillas are hiding out. Jeanne joins the resistance and is reunited with Chuck. They begin to fall in love.

After three years of fighting, Chuck, Jeanne, Jim and the rest of their band are trapped in a church by a Japanese patrol. Just when it looks as if they will be wiped out, squadrons of American planes appear overhead and explosions are heard, announcing the liberation the Philippines is underway. The Japanese leave to face this greater threat.



US Navy Ensign Iliff "Rich" Richardson was the executive officer of PT 34.[1] After it was sunk by the Japanese, Richardson and a dozen fellow Americans attempted to sail a native outrigger to Australia, but the boat was sunk in a storm. He eventually joined the Philippine guerrilla forces, setting up a radio network to keep the various bands in touch with each other and Allied forces in Australia. After the liberation of the Philippines, Richardson dictated his memoirs to war correspondent Ira Wolfert, who published them in 1945 as An American Guerilla in the Philippines. The book became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and was published in condensed form in the March 1945 issue of Readers Digest.[2]

Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox bought the film rights and had Lamar Trotti write a screenplay by August 1945.[3] Original plans were to film the movie in Puerto Rico with Fred MacMurray and William Bendix to be directed by Henry King, but later plans were to star John Payne and Linda Darnell to be filmed on Catalina Island.[2] The end of the war led Zanuck to shelve all films with a World War II theme.

In 1950, American Guerrilla in the Philippines was the first American film made on location in the Philippines in color. Fritz Lang was assigned the project, but said it was the least favorite of all his films. Though the story was well received in the Philippines, there was a protest that Filipino actors were left out of the credits, with the studio placing their names later.[2] Zanuck, who also worked on the script and edited it, rushed the film's completion to tie in with the start of the Korean War.[4]


  1. ^ Bulkley, Robert J.; Kennedy, John F.; Eller, Ernest MacNeill (2003). At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy, Naval Institute Press, p. 24.
  2. ^ a b c "Notes for American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950)". Turner Classic Movies.  
  3. ^ American Guerilla in the Philippines film script. Google. Retrieved 6 April 2009.  
  4. ^ Gilligan, Patrick (1997). Fritz Lang" The Nature of the Beast, St Martins Press.

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