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Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Approved | | Action, Drama, War | 28 August 1951 (USA)
Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

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(screenplay), (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Lt. Vern 'Cowboy' Blithe
...
...
MSgt. Clancy, Line Chief
...
...
Colonel
...
Brigadier General
Maurice Jara ...
Shorty Vegay
...
Lt. Bert Malotke
James Dobson ...
Lt. Pudge McCabe
...
Col. Riley
...
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:

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 »

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The squadron's designation in the movie was VMF-247 "Wildcats" but in the movie was based on VMF-223 "The Bulldogs". VMF-223 was a Marine fighter squadron that flew Grumman F4F Wildcats. They were also formed at MCAS Ewa on Oahu and was the first fighter squadron at the Battle of Guadalcanal. The unit still exists to this day as VMA-223, or Marine Attack Squadron 223. Based at Cherry Point, NC, it is comprised of AV-8B Harrier (V/STOL) jets and is under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 14. The unit has flown in every major conflict from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan. 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 »

Quotes

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.
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Connections

Referenced in Charade (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Memorable and spectacular film made with the cooperation of the US Marines , being well shot by Nicholas Ray
24 April 2016 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

A Howard Hughes War breathtaking film that probably accounts for the brilliance of the cinematography of the aerial dogfights . Classic war film with a magnificent John Wayne as tough Major fighting Japanese and a nice secondary cast who provide stalwart support . This is a flag-waging and patriotic tribute to US fliers . Very decent war scenes along with documentary footage that convey us the assault troops supported by aviation to establish on the Pacific islands, but like the navy, the US army and Air Force fought its way from island to island in the Pacific . The squadron's designation in the movie was VMF-247 "Wildcats" but in the movie was based on VMF-223 "The Bulldogs". The Leathernecks of the film's title is military slang . Leatherneck is a common nickname for marines of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). 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" . Regarding Marine Major Dan Kirby (John Wayne) is tough on his group of World War II aviators , he is even tougher than his subordinate Captain Carl Griffin (Robert Ryan) . As squadron leader fights with his fellow officer in Guadalcanal island . Both of them are two-fisted officers whose inevitable feud ranges from the wartime Pacific to peacetime America . As Kirby proves that his method is more suited to the demands of war and he leads his soldiers to into victorious battle , winning the devotion and admiration of his fliers . As when the real fighting begins all is forgotten . They subsequently bomb a convoy that is nicknamed by Kirby as ¨Tokyo Express¨.

The film is based correctly on Guadalcanal battle in a hard-fought US operation , one of the most difficult campaigns of the Pacific theater , detailing this fight as well as other battles in Orient . 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 angel (1930), Sky Devils (1932) and Jet Pilot (1957), the latter of which also starred John Wayne . It's a good film dealing with war in human terms . This colorful movie contains action , breathtaking battles , thrills , stock-shots , historical events and the dogfighting scenes are impressively made . Stalwart main cast , Wayne and Ryan , both of whom give splendid interpretations . Being stunning supported by Don Taylor , Barry Kelley , James Bell , James Dobson , and special mention for J.C. Flippen as grizzled veteran . Big production design , lavishly produced , brilliant photography and rousing soundtrack by ordinary Roy Webb as you'd expect from RKO Pictures at the time . Superp photography in glimmer color by William E Snyder , superbly captured in bright , sharp Technicolor which nowadays' processors never seem able to reproduce .

The picture was compellingly directed by Nicholas Ray , author of various master pieces and hits as Rebel without cause , The savage innocents , Johnny Guitar , King of Kings , 55 days at Pekin and many others . Nicholas has a sensitive handling of actors and provides an exact compositional sense . Ray is a classic director , his films deal with a deep description of civilized societies , he believes that corruption is an essential part of it , that society punishes sincerity , innocence and love, vengeance and greed determine the behavior of people. ¨Flying leathernecks¨ is often considered merely another assignment of Nicholas Ray's at RKO for Howard Hughes to prove his political and professional alliance during the Red Scare and being Nicholas Ray's first film in color.


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