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Wake Island (1942)

Approved  |   |  Action, Drama, War  |  11 August 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,289 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 15 critic

December, 1941. With no hope of relief or re-supply, a small band of United States Marines try to keep the Japanese Navy from capturing their island base.



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Title: Wake Island (1942)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Maj. Geoffrey Caton
Macdonald Carey ...
Lt. Bruce Cameron
Pvt. Joe Doyle
Pvt. Aloysius K. 'Smacksie' Randall
Shad McClosky
Cmdr. Roberts
Mikhail Rasumny ...
Ivan Probenzky
Rod Cameron ...
Capt. Pete Lewis
Bill Goodwin ...
Sgt. Higbee / Narrator
Damian O'Flynn ...
Capt. Bill Patrick
Johnny Rudd


In November 1941, Major Caton takes command of the small Marine garrison on Wake Island. His tendency toward spit and polish upsets the men's tropical lassitude, but Pearl Harbor changes everything. Soon the island is attacked and the Marines pull together day by day; but how long can they hold out? Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Democracy will never forget. See more »


Action | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

11 August 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heldenlegioen  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In real life most of the survivors were sent to Japanese prison camps but 98 civilian construction workers were held on the island to help the Japanese with their defenses. After the Americans conducted a successful air raid in October 1943, the civilians were machine-gunned to death. A lone survivor escaped and later carved a message on a coral rock on the mass grave where they were hastily buried. He was later captured and beheaded. When the island fell in 1945, the commander responsible for the massacre was executed. See more »


In a shot of the Japanese ships just before the Marines open fire, a patrol boat can be seen already on fire. See more »


Pvt. Aloysius K. 'Smacksie' Randall: [Dressed in civilian clothes] World, here I come!
See more »


Featured in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) See more »


Composed by Gen. Daniel Butterfield 1862
Played during movie's opening.
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User Reviews

One of the Best WWII Movies
24 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie came out in the first year of the war, and I remember well seeing it at a Saturday matinée, and playing it out in our back yard, wearing a kid's version of a Marine "tin hat." I've watched it on video many times since. The movie begins well, and has good sub plots, some serious, some humorous. Donlevy is excellent as the Marine CO, and the whole cast -- Robert Preston, William Bendix, Albert Dekker, Macdonald Carey et al. -- turns in convincing performances. Director John Farrow, who saw combat in the Royal Navy at the beginning of WWII and was discharged because of wounds, develops the tension well as overwhelming Japanese forces attack the Island, to be repelled once, and then returning to overrun it in compelling combat sequences. Because it is of the era, it catches the flavor of the era perfectly, and anyone trying to do a movie about the U.S. in WWII should see it. I can only compare it to the wrong in far too many ways 2002 "Pearl Harbor" -- messing up on details such as using the "Alpha/Bravo" phonetic alphabet instead of the "Able/Baker" of WWII, getting manners and haircuts wrong and blowing up nests of more modern destroyers when the Japanese concentrated only on the battleships. Wake Island clearly has no such mistakes.

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