Wake Island (1942)

Approved  |   |  Action, Drama, War  |  11 August 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,295 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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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Maj. Geoffrey Caton
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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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
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Did You Know?


Winston Churchill was a fan of the film. See more »


Wake island defenders did not have a dog. See more »


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


Referenced in Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Marine Hymn
Music by Jacques Offenbach ("Gendarme's Duet") 1867
Heard under opening credirs
See more »

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User Reviews

Before The Whole Story Was In
8 May 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The battle for Wake Island concluded just before Christmas of 1941 and news from the place was pretty sketchy. It would not be known until after the war ended exactly what happened on the place.

In many ways it was worse than what's shown here. With no help coming at all from the mainland USA or from Pearl Harbor which was licking its own wounds, there was an unconditional surrender declared. The construction workers who were building a base on the island when war broke out were all summarily executed as spies. The few Marines who did survive, survived in horrible captivity, probably made worse by the fact that America never tried to take the island back. When they had the overwhelming naval superiority, the Japanese were starved out, but so were the prisoners they had.

So with an incomplete story at best, the writers at Paramount had free reign to do an Alamo like story and proceeded to do just that. Brian Donlevy is a stalwart Marine Colonel who clashes repeatedly with Albert Dekker the head of the construction workers. Comic relief is provided by Robert Preston and William Bendix as a pair of tough marines who joke about Bendix's impending discharge which occurs right on the day of Pearl Harbor.

Bendix was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and while he's pretty funny in the part, when you consider he did a highly effective dramatic role in The Glass Key that same year, I'm wondering if the Academy put him up for the wrong film. He lost that year to Van Heflin for Johnny Eager.

Wake Island is a dated story, dated but entertaining. Maybe someone will do a film of the real story there, the horrible captivity of our prisoners, just like what they endured in the Phillipines.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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