Major Daniel Kirby takes command of a squadron of Marine fliers just before they are about to go into combat. While the men are well meaning, he finds them undisciplined and prone to always finding excuses to do what is easy rather than what is necessary. The root of the problem is the second in command, Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin. Griff is the best flier in the group but Kirby finds him a poor commander who is not prepared to the difficult decision that all commanders have to make - to put men in harm's way knowing that they may be killed. Written by
From Guadalcanal to Okinawa...the Marine air-devils blazed a trail of glory...while the women they left behind fought battles of their own! (1956 reissue poster)
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Did You Know?
Marines got the nickname of "Leathernecks" from the fact that early uniforms had a collar made of leather which was intended to protect the throat from knife wounds. See more
Near the end of the movie, just prior to Kirby (John Wayne) boarding the plane to leave, we see a wounded soldier being loaded onto a 2 engine C-47. In the next scene as Kirby is boarding the plane and is saying farewell to Griff (Robert Ryan), at the ladder, the plane is a 4 engine C-54. See more
Maj. Daniel Xavier Kirby
When the command meets a commander for the first time, it's like a wedding. Nobody knows how it's going to turn out. Whether it'll be a happy golden anniversary or a divorce. We'll see.
Featured in The John Wayne Anthology