Go for Broke! (1951 film)

Infobox Film
name = Go for Broke

image_size =
caption =
director = Robert Pirosh
producer = Dore Schary
writer = Robert Pirosh
starring = Van Johnson
Lane Nakano
George Miki
music =
cinematography =
editing =
distributor =
released = 1951
runtime = 92 minutes
country = U.S.A.
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0043590

"Go for Broke!" is a war film released in 1951. It was directed by Robert Pirosh, produced by Dore Schary and starred Van Johnson, several veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Henry Nakamura.

The film dramatizes the real-life story of the 442nd, which was composed of Nisei (second-generation Americans born of Japanese parents). Fighting in the European theater during World War II, this unit became the most heavily decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of the United States Army, as well as one of the units with the highest casualty rates. This film is a Hollywood rarity which features Asian-Americans in a positive light and even more rare in highlighting the irony of Japanese-Americans who fought bravely for their country while that same country interned their families in camps.

As with his earlier film script "Battleground", in which Van Johnson also starred, writer-director Robert Pirosh focuses on the average squad member, mixing humor with pathos, while accurately detailing equipment and tactics used by American infantry in World War II. The contrast of reality versus public relations, the hardships of field life on the line, and the reality of high casualty rates are accurately portrayed with a minimum of heroics.


The film begins in 1943 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, with newly-commissioned Lieutenant Michael Grayson (Johnson) reporting for duty with the 442nd, then in training. He discovers that he has been sent to a unit composed of Nisei, when he had expected to return to the U.S. 36th Infantry Division, a Texas National Guard unit with which he had served as an enlisted man. Having joined the war to fight against the Japanese, he is disturbed to find he is expected to fight alongside people who he sees as Japanese, rather than Americans. From the outset, Grayson runs his platoon with harsh strictness for regulations.

He (and the audience) learn that "" is a pidgin phrase (used in Hawaii) meaning to gamble everything – one will be broke, bankrupt if he loses. Eventually, Grayson also learns the meaning of the frequently-repeated expletive "Baka tare", which, loosely translated, means "very stupid."

There is only brief mention of the internment camps from which most of the men have come, but throughout the film, there are references to the camps. There are also a few brief references to the distinctions between the Nisei from Hawaii ("Buta-heads") and those from the mainland ("Katonks"). While Buta-heads (the phrase later devolved to "Buddha-Heads") were a key part of the Hawaiian economy and society, Katonks were largely distrusted and disliked by their neighbors.

Arriving in Italy, the unit is joined by the 100th Battalion, the Nisei unit formed in Hawaii before the 442nd was created on the mainland. The troops of the 100th are seasoned veterans and the new arrivals look to them for advice. On the march to he front lines, Grayson inadvertantly gets left behind while fraternizing with a "signorina", but when he catches up, finds that his platoon has covered for him during an inspection of their positions by the colonel.

Through fighting in Italy and France, Grayson eventually comes to respect the Nisei, and his bigotry fades. Eventually, he is transferred back to his old unit, the 36th as a liaison -- over his objections -- when the 442nd is attached to the larger unit.

As he has misjudged the Nisei, they have misjudged Grayson. They eventually learn that he has defended them against bigotry, even getting into a fistfight with an old friend of his from the 36th who had insulted them.

The climax of the movie comes with the "Buddha-heads'" famous rescue of the "Lost Battalion," after the 36th is surrounded by the German army. Then comes their return home, and the award of the Presidential Unit Citation.


*Van Johnson as Lieutenant Michael Grayson
*Lane Nakano* as Sam
*George Miki* as Chick
*Akira Fukunaga* as Frank
*Ken K. Okamoto* as Kaz
*Henry Oyasato* as Takashi Ohhara
*Harry Hamada* as Masami
*Henry Nakamura as Tommy Kamakura
*Warner Anderson as Colonel Charles W. Pence
*Don Haggerty as Sergeant Wilson I. Culley
*Gianna Maria Canale as Rosina
*Dan Riss as Captain Solari

* actual veterans of the 442nd

ee also

*Go For Broke Monument

External links

*tcmdb title|id=76522|title=Go for Broke!

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • for broke — See: GO FOR BROKE …   Dictionary of American idioms

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  • go for broke — verb risk everything in one big effort the cyclist went for broke at the end of the race • Hypernyms: ↑gamble, ↑chance, ↑risk, ↑hazard, ↑take chances, ↑adventure, ↑run a risk, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Go for broke — is a phrase meaning to wager everything . It was popularized by the movie Go for Broke!, about a World War II Japanese American military unit, the 442nd Infantry Regiment.It can also mean: * Go For Broke Monument, a monument commemorating… …   Wikipedia

  • go for broke — {v. phr.}, {slang} To risk everything on one big effort; use all your energy and skill; try as hard as possible. * /The racing car driver decided to go for broke in the biggest race of the year./ Compare: ALL OUT …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • go for broke — {v. phr.}, {slang} To risk everything on one big effort; use all your energy and skill; try as hard as possible. * /The racing car driver decided to go for broke in the biggest race of the year./ Compare: ALL OUT …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • go for broke — If someone goes for broke, they risk everything they have for a potentially greater gain …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • go for broke — in. to choose to risk everything; to try to succeed against great odds. □ I feel lucky today. I’ll go for broke. □ We decided to go for broke, and that is exactly how we ended up …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

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  • go for broke — ► go for broke informal risk everything in an all out effort. Main Entry: ↑broke …   English terms dictionary

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