Women of Valour (1986) starring Susan Sarandon, Kristy McNichol, Alberta Watson, Valerie Mahaffey, Suzanne Lederer, Patrick Bishop, G Awazu directed by Buzz Kulik Movie Review

Women of Valour (1986)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Susan Sarandon as Col. Margaret Ann Jessup in Women of Valour (1986)

Nurses of War

Growing up in the 80s my family were glued to the TV series "Tenko" a drama about women who ended up in prison camps after the bombing in Singapore. It was and to be honest still is a brilliant drama series but it is not the only series or movie about the women who ended up in Japanese prison camps during WWII and "Women of Valour" is one such movie. Now it has to be said that "Women of Valour" readily admits to being fictionalised and is more of a dedication to the army and navy nurses who ended up in these prison camps. But unfortunately whilst effective as a drama it doesn't come across as being authentic appearing to take liberties with what really happened and how they survived.

At a military hearing Col. Margaret Ann Jessup (Susan Sarandon - Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) recounts what happened to her during WWII where she was one of many nurses stationed in and around Singapore. She tells how after the bombing of Pearl Harbor they were evacuated and ended up in a make shift hospital in Bataan before they had to surrender and ended up on a death march where they finally reached a prison camp where she and fellow prisoners did whatever it took to survive.

Kristy McNichol and Susan Sarandon in Women of Valour (1986)

I will be honest "Women of Valour" whilst not terrible struggled to keep my attention and that is because it is a story which has been told before. I don't mean that it is a remake but alongside the TV series "Tenko" there have been other movies, far superior movies, which tell the story of women who ended up in Japanese prison of war camps during WWII. The USP of "Women of Valour" is that its focus is on a group of nurses which ended up there and following the war deserve to be remembered and honoured for their contribution, which whilst I applaud does little to make it any different to those other movies.

As such what we get in "Women of Valour" is a lot of familiar ground from watching women being forced too march, although no nurses were involved in the real Bataan death march, to watching them struggle with illness and malnutrition in the prison camp. We also get to see friendships form between the female prisoners, strained friendships with some of the Japanese soldiers as well as the work of resistance to smuggle them much needed supplies and equipment. But alongside that we get some quite extraordinary scenes from the nurses frolicking in their underwear in a waterfall to one of them rushing back in to a building to get sexy underwear as it is being bombed. Something like that may have happened but it feels incredibly manufactured and that is the trouble with "Women of Valour" there is a lot of it which feels manufactured to deliver entertainment rather than realism.

I suppose in truth I watched "Women of Valour" half expecting something to be wrong as I had never heard of the movie before and it was the casting of Susan Sarandon which was the attraction. Well like the movie in general the acting from Sarandon and her co-stars Kristy McNichol, Alberta Watson and Valerie Mahaffey works, they play watchable characters but not what I would call authentic characters.

What this all boils down to is that I respect the makers of "Women of Valour" for making a movie which is a dedication to the nurses who ended up in prisoner of war camps but there are much better movies which deal with the subject of women who during WWII ended up in Japanese prison camps.