Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War, Action  |  28 August 1951 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 3,294 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




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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)


(archive footage)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

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 »


When John Wayne first observes the damage done to the Japanese ships his goggles are up. Next scene he looks around some more and his goggles are down covering his eyes. See more »


Maj. Daniel Xavier Kirby: You just can't bring yourself to point your finger at the guy and say "go get killed!" You got enough troubles of your own for one man. Stop trying to pack everybody else's around. Schedule that mission.
Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin: Roger!
See more »


Referenced in M*A*S*H: L.I.P. (Local Indigenous Personnel) (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Oustanding Character Study
29 December 2005 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

Watching the interaction between Wayne and Ryan took me back to my days in submarines. A captain who remained distant yet caring and an exec who seemed more crew friendly and down to earth. I thought this was played out very well. Ryan only had to look at his own actions to realize why he had been passed over for command. I believe every command had a scrounger and this was a good addition for realism. I overlooked some location errors and airplane types and focused on what was the real story. Young men were trained quickly and sent into combat and as all young people do even now, feel invincible. This movie portrays war as a reality, men die. As long as the earth is inhabited there will be wars. One reviewer termed this movie as a snuff movie. This was war. Men fought and men died. Guadelcanal was not a pristine resort. We were attacked by an enemy who showed no mercy and as sad as it is, men die in war to protect our freedom. This movie shows how new pilots are forced to face the reality that they may be killed and that they must kill. They were led by a squadron commander (Wayne) who was a veteran and knew what it would take to give his men the highest odds of living. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to anyone who has a moral problem with war. The bottom line for the anti-war crowd is, "reality sucks."

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