Back to Bataan: Classic Movie Starring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn as Capt. Andres Bonifacio

Back to Bataan is a war film released in 1945 and starred John Wayne, Anthony Quinn, Beulah Bondi, Fely Franquelli, Richard Loo, and Lawrence Tierney. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk from a screenplay written by Ben Barzman and Richard H. Landau. It had the working title The Invisible Army.

There are several very interesting things I found out while doing research about this war film from the 1940s but there are three tidbits of information that stood out. One, filming occurred while the war in the Pacific was in full force. War news from the frontlines were rapidly changing so the production had to rewrite the script several times to keep up with the changing landscape of the war. Because of these rewrites and the corresponding delays, shooting took 130 days or 4 months and change.

Another very interesting trivia about the film is that it had Anthony Quinn as John Wayne's co-star. Quinn played a character named Andres Bonifacio, a Captain in the Allied army. Just like you, the first thing that came to my mind when I read that was that there was no way this character is Andres Bonifacio, the national hero. The timeline simply doesn't jive. Well, he wasn't. In the movie, the character Andres Bonifacio is the supposed grandson of Andres Bonifacio. There solves the mystery.

As I mentioned earlier, shooting for Back to Bataan happened while the war in the Pacific is ongoing. In fact, two-thirds of the way through filming, the invasion of the Philippines by American forces occurred. This was marked by General Douglas McArthur's arrival in Leyte.

Don't watch this film and expect it to be an accurate depiction of what happened in Bataan in the Philippines during the war. It's highly recommended that you read well-researched books about the Bataan Death March for a clearer picture of what actually happened there.

Back to Bataan movie poster featuring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn.

Back to Bataan trivia:
1. The opening credits for the movie featured actual footage of prisoners-of-war who were freed from a prison camp in Cabanatuan on January 30, 1945.
2. Before the start of the film, an onscreen prologue states, "This story was not invented. The events you are about to see are based on actual events. The characters are based on actual people."
3. A technical advisor for the movie was the commander of the U.S. Infantry Philippine Scouts.
4. John Wayne who played the lead and Robert Fellows, a producer, opposed making Wayne's character the hero. They argued that a Filipino character should be the film's hero. However, the final film had Wayne's character as the main hero.
5. The film made $2,490,000 at the box office.