The Story of Dr. Wassell

The Story of Dr. Wassell is a 1944 American World War II film set in the Dutch East Indies, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, and starring Gary Cooper, Laraine Day, Signe Hasso and Dennis O'Keefe. The film was based on a book of the same name by novelist and screenwriter James Hilton.

The Story of Dr. Wassell
The Story of Dr. Wassell 1944 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCecil B. DeMille
Produced byCecil B. DeMille
Screenplay by
  • Alan Le May
  • Charles Bennett
Story by
  • Corydon M. Wassell
  • James Hilton
Music byVictor Young
Edited byAnne Bauchens
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 4, 1944 (1944-07-04) (US)
Running time
140 minutes
CountryUnited States

The book and film were inspired by the wartime activities of U.S. Navy Doctor Corydon M. Wassell which were referred to by President Roosevelt in a radio broadcast made in April 1942. The appropriate section of this broadcast appears toward the end of the film.

For their work on this film, Farciot Edouart, Gordon Jennings and George Dutton received a nomination for the Oscar for Best Effects.[1]


Dr Wassell is a missionary doctor from Arkansas, who had in the past worked in China (which is shown in the first half of the film as a series of flashback (narrative)s) and after the Japanese invasion of Batavia finds himself (now as a doctor in the US Navy) caring for twelve American soldiers badly wounded during Japanese strafing of some cruisers. Ignoring advice to abandon his patients, Wassell manages to care for them while leading them through the jungle until they can be evacuated by boat to Australia,[2]



It was originally announced that Yvonne De Carlo would play the role of the Javanese nurse.[3]

DeMille wanted Alan Ladd to play the role of Hoppy, but he had to go into military service.[4]


The film was the seventh most popular film of the year released in Australia in 1945.[5]

It was the fifth most popular movie of 1946 in France with admissions of 5,866,693.[1]

In popular cultureEdit

In the Truman Capote novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly Golightly was to have auditioned for the role of Dr. Wassel's nurse, but impulsively left for New York City.


  1. ^ "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  2. ^ Jeffrey Meyers, Gary Cooper: American Hero, Rowman & Littlefield 2001 ISBN 978-0-815-41140-6 pp.189-140.
  3. ^ "DRAMA: 'Cousin' Rewrite Set; Hubbard Joining Cast" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 18 Feb 1943: A8.
  4. ^ "DRAMA AND FILM: O'Keefe Wins 'Hoppy' Role in 'Dr. Wassell' Carmen Miranda Lively Addition to 'Greenwich Village' at 20th" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 23 June 1943: A8.
  5. ^ "News About Movies". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 12 January 1946. p. 8. Retrieved 4 March 2013.

External linksEdit