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Seven weeks after Pearl Harbor, volunteers form the new 2nd Marine Raider Battalion whose purpose is to raid Japanese-held islands. The men selected come from different walks of life but have toughness in common. Under command of Colonel 'Thorwald', they're trained in all imaginable forms of combat. Then, after a perilous submarine journey, they face a daunting first mission: to annihilate the much larger Japanese garrison on Makin Island, in a lengthy battle sequence.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The campaign of Makin Island which was the very first piece of Pacific Island we invaded against the Japanese in World War II. It serves as the basis for this film. Not much of an island the island was directly between the Hawaiian Islands and a place called Guadalcanal. The theory was get in, destroy the Japanese base and communications and get out. That much is true. The rest of the film is Hollywood hype.
Randolph Scott plays a character based on Major Evans Carlson of Carlson's Raiders which was an elite unit of Marines trained to take the island. Carlson had seen service in China and was impressed with the Chinese guerrilla campaign against the Japanese there. He studied the tactics of Chu The who was the military commander of Mao Tse-tung's Chinese Communists. I don't know much Marxism, if any, Carlson took to heart, but after World War II it got him in no small amount of trouble. In an organization as conservative and tradition bound as the United States Marines he became a pariah. He died in 1951.
Since the Makin Island campaign was the start of our Pacific Offensive it was natural that Hollywood seized on the opportunity to make a quick B picture as a morale booster. Universal assembled a good cast that included a young Robert Mitchum before stardom. Besides Mitchum, I liked J. Carroll Naish and Sam Levene who gave good support to Scott. Levene played the typical serviceman from Brooklyn which by that time was becoming a cliché in war pictures.
Anyway Carlson's lasting contribution to the Marines was the phrase Gung Ho. So if you want to know how that got into the Marine vocabulary, see this movie.
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