A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute's novel of the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II, was first filmed as a theatrical feature in 1956. The six-part British TV adaptation of 1980, first shown in the US on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre beginning October 4, 1981, is more inclusive and sweeping in its adaptation. Much of the story concentrates on the oppression exercised upon the female British citizens of Malaya by the Japanese troops, including the infamous 6-week "death march" through the jungles. The miniseries begins just prior to the invasion, when the British citizens find it hard to believe that they're in danger. The subsequent horrors are seen through the eyes of two POWS: A British woman (Helen Morse) and an Australian soldier (Bryan Brown). Thrust together by the war and its related deprivations, the two prisoners fall in love. But at war's end they return to their separate countries of birth, and their ardor cools. After an awkward and inconclusive reunion, the lovers ultimately renew their relationship--a circumstance once more sparked by a crisis in their lives. A Town Like Alice was Masterpiece Theatre's first presentation of the 1981-82 TV season.
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