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The Making of 'Sands of Iwo Jima' (1993)

A documentary hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin, detailing the making of the classic 1949 John Wayne war film "The Sands of Iwo Jima." Included are clips from the film and interviews ... See full summary »

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A documentary hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin, detailing the making of the classic 1949 John Wayne war film "The Sands of Iwo Jima." Included are clips from the film and interviews with Wayne's co-stars and members of his family. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Documentary | Short

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References All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) See more »

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Great detail from cast and crew.
27 January 2005 | by (Luoyang, China) – See all my reviews

The Making of Sands of Iwo Jima goes into great detail about who starred in the movie and who some of the main crew members were, presumably because so little on set footage exists. A surprising number of the original cast appear in interviews in this short documentary to talk about their experiences making the movie. Leonard Maltin also goes into detail about the military atmosphere at the time the movie was released, giving valuable insight into its relevance. It seems that in the late 1940s the Marine Corps itself was in danger of being eliminated, seen as unnecessary because of other organizations like the Army. In fact, one of the reasons that Wayne did the movie was to help the Marines. They were badly in need of a PR boost at the time and they certainly got it from this film, which was tremendously popular and successful.

There are interesting tidbits revealed by one of the men who appeared in the film about John Wayne's acting, such as the way he always hesitates slightly when he's making so he can get himself four or five feet of film. This guy turned himself into a star in more ways than just his acting skills! His son also makes an appearance in this documentary, talking about his father and his own relations to some of the men involved with the film.

We also learn in this documentary that a lot of Sands of Iwo Jima was filmed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, the extensive beach of which was used for many of the battle scenes. There are details revealed about methods used by the special effects team to achieve the appearance of full scale battle, which is actually one of the weak parts of the film, although was great for 1949.

Some interesting facts are revealed as well, such as the fact that lots of Marines were enlisted from Camp Pendleton to appear in the film, and the original flag and three of the original six guys who erected the flag on Mt. Surabachi also appear in the film, which garnered John Wayne his first Oscar nomination.

The film ultimately became sort of a recruiting film for the Marines, who evidently capitalized on the movie's popularity. One of the few things that I didn't like about this documentary was that it ended with a dramatic slow motion American flag waving in the wind and filling the whole screen. Not that I have anything against the flag, obviously, but it overemphasizes a point that is already very strongly made. There's no need to smack the viewer over the head with the patriotism that the movie and this documentary celebrate. All in all, though, this is an entertaining and informative documentary.


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