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Concentrating on the personal lives of those involved, a war correspondent takes us through the preparations, landing and initial campaign on Guadalcanal during WWII. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Capt. Clarence Martin, who fought with the first detachment of Marines at Guadalcanal, acted as a technical adviser. See more »
Japanese Type 97 grenades were primed by pulling the pin first and then hitting the striker hard against something hard (A rock or a helmet) to ignite the primer before throwing. During the battle at the cliffs, a Japanese soldier pulls the pin in a grenade and tosses it immediately without striking the pin. See more »
The film's opening prologue in the preface of a book states: A new chapter in the history of America by a correspondent who landed on Guadalcanal with the first detachment of United States Marines. See more »
"Guadalcanal Diary" came out smack dab in the middle of the U.S. fighting in WW II. It was made the year after the actual events portrayed in the film. It's based on a book by the same title, written by Richard Tregaskis. He was a war correspondent who covered the taking of Guadalcanal.
One can appreciate this film for its reality and straightforward portrayal as written by the author. This was before Hollywood began to fantasize and over dramatize many of the battles and the war action in later films. The narration is a nice touch, with an actor representing the author who tells us about the story as it unfolds.
Others have commented on the excellent cast. All actors did a superb job in portraying a bunch of American Marines who hadn't yet seen war and had no idea of what to expect. Onboard ship somewhere in the South Pacific, we see the men lying around and waiting and wondering. The usual hijinks and talk about girls back home, baseball and family take place. Finally, we see the naval bombardment, the beach landing unchallenged by the Japanese, and then the battles as the Marines move inland and route the enemy.
Some other nice touches of realism are in the lines by various actors. Lloyd Nolan as Sgt. Hook Malone cautions the men about not going after Japanese souvenirs because they could be booby-trapped. Preston Foster as the chaplain, Father Donnelly, is a paternal figure for the men who will be right beside them in the first wave to hit the beach. Col. Grayson tells the men it will be a tedious, tough job to route the enemy, because the Japanese soldiers are tough.
We see ordinary men fighting, getting wounded, and being killed on both sides. When Army replacements arrive, the Marines welcome them. The battle action sequences are very realistic, and the movie makers must have received actual film footage of the naval bombardment from the Navy. It's very impressive. Some people quibble about racial slurs. We must remember that this film is an accurate portrayal of what really happened, and what it was like for and with our troops. Later modern sanitized films were scripted to be politically correct, but in the process they sacrificed some of the truth and realism of the times and events.
Movie companies today put disclaimers on older films for various portrayals, especially regarding race and culture. They point out the inappropriate language, behavior or treatment of some people in the older films, by today's standards. And, they note that to expunge or change the film to eliminate such material after the fact, would be a denial of the facts and truth that such things had occurred in history as portrayed. Therefore, they have significant historical value in educating society about those times and behaviors of the past.
This film is a must for any serious war film collection.
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