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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 »
Morale boosting war film is solid entertainment much needed during WWII...
Whatever its flaws--stereotypes among soldiers, wartime propaganda using the Wake Island battle as symbolic of America's fight for freedom, weak comic relief--WAKE ISLAND is the kind of story Americans needed to hear during the height of WWII. It begins just before the Pearl Harbor attack when the men were losing their morale to fight against the Japs, then changes once American ships and servicemen are attacked in sneaky fashion at Pearl, to become a story of fighting men who want to avenge what F.D.R. called "a day of infamy".
Forcefully directed by John Farrow, it's a gritty, realistic war drama given occasional relief by ROBERT PRESTON and WILLIAM BENDIX as a pair of squabbling soldiers arguing over re-enlistment. BRIAN DONLEVY plays Maj. Caton with steely-eyed determination and a large male cast of upcoming actors and future stars fills the supporting cast: ALBERT DEKKER, MADONALD CAREY, ROD CAMERON, WALTER ABEL, DANE CLARK, PHILIP TERRY and FRANK FAYLEN.
Similar in content to BATAAN, which also told of American losses against overwhelming odds and had a downbeat ending, the true story of Wake Island is even more downbeat than the film hints. Brutal stories of torture at the hands of Japanese military awaited many who survived the assault on the small island in the Pacific. But that's something you can learn about at The History Channel.
Summing up: A reminder of what sort of films Americans were looking at during the height of WWII--you have to view it in that context.
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