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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to Hedda Hopper's newspaper column of June 23, 1942, three different endings of this movie were shot. The ending to be used when released in August would depend upon how the war was going by then. 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 »
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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