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Flying Leathernecks (1951)

 -  Drama | War | Action  -  28 August 1951 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 2,963 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 15 critic

Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Flying Leathernecks (1951)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin
Don Taylor ...
Janis Carter ...
Joan Kirby
...
MSgt. Clancy, Line Chief
William Harrigan ...
Dr. Lt.Cdr. Joe Curran
James Bell ...
Colonel
Barry Kelley ...
Brigadier General
Maurice Jara ...
Shorty Vegay
...
Lt. Bert Malotke
James Dobson ...
Lt. Pudge McCabe
Carleton Young ...
Col. Riley
Michael St. Angel ...
Capt. Harold Jorgensen, Ops. Officer (as Steve Flagg)
Brett King ...
1st Lt. Ernie Stark
Gordon Gebert ...
Tommy Kirby
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

AIR-DEVILS OF THE SKY! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War | Action

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 August 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Devil Dogs of the Air  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(archive footage)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's dedication states: "Dedicated to the United States Marine Corps, and especially to Marine aviation. Appreciation is gratefully acknowledged for their participation and assistance which made this picture possible." See more »

Goofs

When the Indian crash lands, the distance shot shows the F6F sitting with the right gear collapsed - when the ground crew arrives in the closeup, the left gear is collapsed. See more »

Connections

Featured in The John Wayne Anthology (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Take Off Those Boots, Mister.
30 April 2004 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

The central story is elementary. Wayne arrives to command a group of Hellcats on Guadalcanal. His executive officer is Robert Ryan. Wayne is a taciturn, no-nonsense typa guy who doesn't suffer humanitarians easily. Ryan is a humanitarian. (A fairly decent reflection of offscreen attitudes here.)

Ryan is always saying things about his wisecracking, fun-loving men like, "They're just kids." And Wayne's first priority is to force them to become disciplined and efficient warriors. He's distant enough that when he sends the men a bottle of saki, he tells the messenger not to reveal the identity of the donor. Not that Ryan is a namby-pamby. He's shown as gentle but not coddling. And he's smart too. One of his men complains that every time he goes up, his chances of coming down alive are narrowed. Ryan explains Baldt's theorem, or whatever it is, which states that your chances remain the same no matter how many times you've flown. Just like flipping a coin. With each flip, your chance of getting heads or tails is even, no matter how many times you've flipped it. (This ignores something called The Law of Limits, I think, but I don't want to get in over my head here so I'll quit.) Okay, maybe Ryan thinks too much, but at least statistics isn't as bad as a taste for Shakespeare, which was John Agar's failing in "Sands of Iwo Jima." Math is a man's job, finally, whereas Shakespeare is only one step removed from fairyhood.

Anyway the conflict intensifies and Ryan finally turns on Wayne, saying, "I've had a belly full of you!" There is a fierce confrontation and Wayne departs to train pilots elsewhere in ground support using Corsairs, a legendary Pacific fighter. He does not recommend Ryan as his replacement because Ryan, as we all know, hasn't got the guts for command.

Now -- you've got the picture of the conflict. We have, on the one hand, the stern, distant, not unfeeling Wayne leader. And on the other hand we have the casual, humanitarian Ryan who identifies with his men too much. Okay. The conflict is resolved at the end of the picture and the two men agree to meet later and get drunk together. I ask you: in whose favor is this conflict resolved? No power on earth could drag the answer from me.

This movie was directed by Nicholas Ray, although you'd never know it. Comedy relief is provided by the scrounging line chief, J. C. Flippen, who refers to non-aviation types as "mud Marines" and is patronizingly tolerated by Wayne. All the combat footage is from official Navy film. You have seen every shot exactly one thousand, two hundred, and forty-two times before.

Those F4U Corsairs were marvelous airplanes with a top speed of about 450 miles an hour.


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