Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War, Action  |  28 August 1951 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 3,293 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 16 critic

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



(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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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 ...
Barry Kelley ...
Brigadier General
Maurice Jara ...
Shorty Vegay
Lt. Bert Malotke
James Dobson ...
Lt. Pudge McCabe
Col. Riley
Michael St. Angel ...
Capt. Harold Jorgensen, Ops. Officer (as Steve Flagg)
Brett King ...
1st Lt. Ernie Stark
Gordon Gebert ...
Tommy Kirby


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


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) See more »


Drama | War | Action


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 August 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Devil Dogs of the Air  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)


(archive footage)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is a Howard Hughes production as the opening credits declare. It is well known that Hughes himself was an aviation aficionado who also produced Hell's Angels (1930), Sky Devils (1932) and Jet Pilot (1957), the latter of which also starred John Wayne. See more »


Wires used to pull the canopy away are visible when Cowboy bails out over point Zebra. See more »


Maj. Daniel Xavier Kirby: Are we all buttoned up?
Joan Kirby: Cat's out... doors locked. All secure sir.
See more »


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

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User Reviews

real color war footage
25 May 2015 | by See all my reviews

Major Kirby (John Wayne) takes command of a squadron of Marine fliers Wildcats. The men are undisciplined as they are sent to the Guadalcanal battle. Everybody expected the squad's best flier Captain 'Grif' Griffin (Robert Ryan) to be the new commander but Kirby finds him unable to make the tough decisions.

The story is rather pedestrian wartime action. John Wayne is the hard but fair commander as his usual fare. He's a real man and the college boys are weak. He's there to make real men out of the boys. The movie is most compelling with the real color war footage. Howard Hughes paid for the Techicolor to weave in with the color footage. The action is pretty compelling and makes this more than another bland war story.

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