Connect with us
A Town Like Alice (1956, Virginia McKenna, Peter Finch)A Town Like Alice (1956, Virginia McKenna, Peter Finch)


A Town Like Alice (1956, Virginia McKenna, Peter Finch)



Nevil Shute’s novelA Town Like Alice, from which this film was made, was based to a degree on fact – after the fall of Malaya to the Japanese during the war, European families were split, the men to labour camps, the women and children supposedly to other camps but these were over populated and they spent months on the road, ill-fed and sick, suffering deaths along their tortuous ordeal.

Virginia McKenna plays Jean Paget, who helps her fellow marchers as best she can. She meets Joe Harman, an Australian PoW on transport duties and a spark ignites between the two. But he is brutally punished by the Japanese after stealing a chicken for her and she thinks she’ll never see him again. When their lone guard dies, the women settle down in a small village and the war’s end brings repatriation. Then Jean gets a letter from Alice Springs, Australia…

The film, which saw the two leads win BAFTAs, also saw them at the height of their popularity and the film was a domestic triumph here and in Australia. Full of emotion and drama, Lee never allows the historical sweep to overwhelm the love story at the heart of the film and despite being shot entirely in Britain (doubles were used for McKenna and Finch for scenery shots in Malaya and Australia), it remains faithful to the story from one of Australia’s favourite writers.

production details
UK – Australia / Rank / 117 minutes / 1956

Director:Jack Lee
Writers:W P Lipscombe, Richard Mason, based on Nevil Shute’s novel,

Virginia McKenna as Jean Paget
Peter Finch as Joe Harman
Kenji Takagi as Japanese Sergeant
Tran Van Khe as Captain Sugaya
Jean Anderson as Miss Horsefall
Marie Lohr as Mrs. Dudley Frost
Maureen Swanson as Ellen
Renée Houston as Ebbey
Nora Nicholson as Mrs. Frith
Eileen Moore as Mrs. Holland
John Fabian as Mr. Holland
Vincent Ball as Ben
Vu Ngoc Tuan as Captain Yanata


and this just in