23 user 20 critic

Wake Island (1942)

Passed | | Action, Drama, War | 11 August 1942 (USA)
December, 1941. With no hope of relief or re-supply, a small band of United States Marines tries to keep the Japanese Navy from capturing their island base.


John Farrow


W.R. Burnett (screenplay), Frank Butler (screenplay)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Brian Donlevy ... Maj. Geoffrey Caton
Macdonald Carey ... Lt. Bruce Cameron
Robert Preston ... Pvt. Joe Doyle
William Bendix ... Pvt. Aloysius K. 'Smacksie' Randall
Albert Dekker ... Shad McClosky
Walter Abel ... Cmdr. Roberts
Mikhail Rasumny ... Ivan Probenzky
Rod Cameron ... Capt. Pete Lewis
Bill Goodwin ... Sgt. Higbee / Narrator
Damian O'Flynn ... Capt. Bill Patrick
Frank Albertson ... Johnny Rudd


In November 1941, Major Caton takes command of the small Marine garrison on Wake Island. His tendency toward spit and polish upsets the men's tropical lassitude, but Pearl Harbor changes everything. Soon the island is attacked and the Marines pull together day by day; but how long can they hold out? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Magnificent Story of Men of Courage! (print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Arcadia Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - October 23, 1946) See more »


Action | Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The end of the movie shows the soldiers fighting to the bitter end, but in real life they surrendered after surviving the first wave of the Japanese attack. See more »


During a Japanese bombardment on the 14th day there's a shot looking at the island and all the marine's tents are intact. See more »


Pvt. Aloysius K. 'Smacksie' Randall: [Dressed in civilian clothes] World, here I come!
See more »


Referenced in Wake Island: Alamo of the Pacific (2003) See more »


Aloha Oe
("Farewell to Thee") (uncredited)
Composed by Queen Liliuokalani (as Lili'oukalani) 1877
Heard as marines leave Hawaii.
See more »

User Reviews

A Fine Film Depicting the Valiant Defense of Wake Island
1 August 2019 | by Uriah43See all my reviews

This film begins with a USMC officer by the name of "Major Geoffrey Caton" (Brian Donlevy) arriving on Wake Island to take command of the garrison just weeks before the Japanese entry in World War 2. With him on the flight is a civilian contractor named "Shad McClosky" (Albert Dekker) who develops an immediate dislike for the major due primarily to McClosky's misconception that Major Caton wants to exercise command and control over him and his men. Regardless of that, the first thing Major Caton does is to begin preparing for war by having his men dig trenches and foxholes all around the island. Unfortunately, just hours after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese bomb the Wake Island airfield and destroy all of the American fighters on the ground with only 4 surviving due to being airborne at the time. From here on out the Marines dig in and wait for the inevitable Japanese invasion. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that even though this film took certain liberties with the facts, the overall details of the battle remained relatively accurate and played out exceptionally well on the screen which resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Likewise, William Bendix was also nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as "Private Aloysius K. 'Smacksie' Randall". In short, although this film certainly contained its share of creative licensing, it manages to entertain fairly well in its own right and for that reason I have rated it accordingly. Above average.

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English | Japanese

Release Date:

11 August 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wake Island See more »

Filming Locations:

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA See more »


Box Office


$826,061 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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