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Three Came Home

1950 The true story of Agnes Newton Keith's imprisonment in several Japanese prisoner-of-war camps from 1941 to the end of WWII, with the man you love to hate - Sessue Hayakawa. Few recall that, before Valentino and Romero, Sessue was Holloywood's first exotic foreign romantic lead

Three Came Home (1950 in film) is a post-war film made by Twentieth Century-Fox, based on the memoirs of the same name by writer Agnes Newton Keith. It depicts Keith's life in North Borneo in the period immediately before the Battle of Borneo (1941-42) in 1942, and her subsequent internment and suffering, separated from her husband Harry Keith, and with a young son to care for. Keith was initially interned at Berhala Island, Sabah near Sandakan, North Borneo (today's Sabah) but spent most of her captivity at Batu Lintang camp at Kuching, Sarawak. The camp was liberated in September 1945.
Adapted and produced by Nunnally Johnson, directed by Jean Negulesco, the film starred Claudette Colbert in the lead role.
The film is now in the public domain and so is available to watch in its entirety online at no charge.<></><></><></><></><></>


American-born Agnes Keith (Colbert) and her British husband (Patric Knowles) live a cushioned colonial life in North Borneo with their young son in 1942. After the Japanese invasion, they are interned and then taken to separate prison camps, one for men, the other for women and children. Amid the brutality of the internment camp, the camp commander Tatsuji Suga (Sessue Hayakawa) is respectful to Mrs Keith because he is familiar with her work, and is shown to be kind to the children even when his own family has died in Hiroshima.


  • Claudette Colbert ... Agnes Newton Keith
  • Patric Knowles ... Harry Keith
  • Florence Desmond ... Betty Sommers
  • Sessue Hayakawa ... Tatsuji Suga
  • Sylvia Andrew ... Henrietta
  • Mark Keuning ... George Keith
  • Phyllis Morris ... Sister Rose
The women prisoners were portrayed by Drue Mallory, Carol Savage, Virginia Kelley, Mimi Heyworth and Helen Westcott.</>
After principal photography was complete, Colbert told Negulesco "You know I'm not given to exaggeration so I hope you believe me when I say that working with you has been the most stimulating and happiest experience of my entire career."< name="tcmart"></>

Critical reception

Upon the film's February 1950 release, Bosley Crowther said the film "bids fair to stand as one of the strongest of the year"; according to him:< name="nytbosley"></>
<blockquote>"Miss Colbert's performance is a beautifully modulated display of moods and passions and explosions under most inhuman and unnatural stress and strain. And Mr. Hayakawa's calculation of the Japanese colonel is a rare accomplishment. But Patric Knowles is also excellent as the British husband of Mrs. Keith from whom she is early separated, and Florence Desmond is superb as a cheerful inmate in the prison camp. Indeed, a little fellow named Mark Keuning contributes immeasurably, too, as the 4-year-old son of the author to whom she desperately clings through her ordeal. Played against realistic settings, which vividly convey the meanness of the jungle prisons, and directed by Jean Negulesco for physical and emotional credibility, Three Came Home is a comprehensive film. It will shock you, disturb you, tear your heart out. But it will fill you fully with a great respect for a heroic soul."</blockquote>
Three Came Home was Life (magazine) magazine's "Movie of the Week" for March 20, 1950.<></>
According to Variety (magazine), "Agnes Newton Keith's deeply affecting ... has been turned from print to celluloid without any easing of the book's harrowing impact"; "Many of the scenes are tearjerkers in the better sense of the word."<></>
In August 1976, Leslie Halliwell described the film as "[w]ell-made, harrowing", assigning it ** (2 stars out of 4), a rarely granted high rating.</> Thompson repeated his endorsement of the film a dozen years later when it was on the History Channel.<></>

See also

  • List of films in the public domain
  • Specific citations:

    General erences:

  • Halliwell's Film Guide, 11th ed, 1995.

  • Category:American war films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:1950s drama films
    Category:1950s war films
    Category:Films based on biographies
    Category:Films directed by Jean Negulesco
    Category:Pacific War films
    Category:World War II prisoner of war films
    Category:World War II films based on actual events
    Category:Women in prison films
    Category:1950 films
    Category:20th Century Fox films
    Jean Negulesco

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