Though it never shakes off the stuffiness that seems endemic to public television pics, Gayle K. Yamada’s “Uncommon Courage: Patriotism and Civil Liberties” is an engrossing portrait of the Japanese-American Nisei (second generation) who fought for the U.S. during World War II. Paradox was these soldiers being patriotic despite rampant Yank prejudice that placed their relatives in detention camps. Archival material is strong, highlighted by impressive battle footage. Yamada’s ability to gather the recollections of a large group of vets lends pic a human dimension that makes it a solid fest entry as well as an evergreen for PBS outlets.
Story traces the tension as families were forcibly moved to remote camps even as eligible sons signed up for the Army, the only branch willing to accept Japanese-Americans. Pic valuably brings forth considerable evidence of how these Nisei not only served a vital role as translators and go-betweens in the Military Intelligence Service, but obtained information that turned the course of key battles.