If someone told you the story of how the 442 Infantry Regiment, a World War II combat team composed almost entirely of Japanese soldiers, overcame both enemy attacks and prejudice at home to prove themselves as Americans and become the most highly decorated regiments in the history of the U.S. military, you might say that sounds like a creation of a Hollywood screenwriter.
And you'd be right, in a sense, because the story was adapted as a major Hollywood movie. But the 442nd regiment actually existed. In the spirit of Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month, KCET is offering both the fictional and the non-fictional takes on this amazing story. First, at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Classic Cool Theater presents "Go For Broke," the 1951 war film that starred Van Johnson and many of the surviving members of the 442nd.
For more context on the production of that film as well as what Los Angeles was like back when it first his theaters, read the latest edition of Aaron Schrank's column, "Classic Cool Context."
Then on Tuesday, May 29, KCET will also screen "442nd: Live With Honor, Die With Dignity," the 2010 Junichi Suzuki-directed documentary of this group of men. Interviews include surviving members of the 442nd -- including some who played fictionalized versions of themselves in "Go For Broke" -- and shed light on their personal experience of fighting with a unit that faces especially tough obstacles but which nonetheless persevered. (Interviews also include Sen. Daniel Inoue and actor George Takei.)
For a list of other KCET documentaries, click here.