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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A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines in World War II.

Directors: John Ford, Robert Montgomery
Stars: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed


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




Drama | War | Action


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Release Date:

28 August 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Devil Dogs of the Air  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)


(archive footage)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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 »


At about the 56 minute mark, the Navajo Indian pilot is shot in a dogfight. In the initial scene he is wounded in the right leg; in subsequent scenes, the wound is in the left leg. 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.
See more »


Referenced in Canadian Bacon (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Worthy effort
9 August 2005 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

On one level this is a standard flag-waving WW2 film--which was what audiences wanted. On another level, though, this movie says some pretty harsh things about war. Mixed in with the combat footage are several scenes of wounded soldiers covered in blood, the sort of images that were censored from pictures made during the war. Some have objected to this... but I think it adds an extra layer of realism. Yes, they are shocking images--maybe that was Ray's point. We should be shocked that men get killed like this. The interplay between Robert Ryan and John Wayne is fascinating. Ryan turns in a splendid performance and Wayne surprised me with the depth of emotion he displayed, particularly when he visits his family. The movie shows us the emotional toll of ordering men to their deaths. The movie has pacing problems, particularly in the final battle, and Jay C. Flippen's scrounging sergeant wears a little thin. Still, this is a well-done war film.

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