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'Gung Ho!': The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders (1943)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 20 December 1943 (USA)
The true story of Carlson's Raiders and their World War II attack on Makin Island.


Ray Enright


Lucien Hubbard (screenplay), W.S. LeFrançois (based on the factual story "GUNG HO" by) (as Lt. W.S. LeFrancois U.S.M.C.) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Randolph Scott ... Col. Thorwald
Alan Curtis ... John Harbison
Noah Beery Jr. ... Kurt Richter
J. Carrol Naish ... Lt.C.J.Cristoforos
Sam Levene ... Sgt. Leo Andreof - 'Transport'
David Bruce ... Larry O'Ryan
Richard Lane ... Capt. Dunphy
Walter Sande ... McBride
Louis Jean Heydt ... Lt. Roland Browning
Robert Mitchum ... Pig-Iron
Rod Cameron ... Rube Tedrow
Grace McDonald ... Kathleen Corrigan
Milburn Stone ... Cmdr. Blake
Peter Coe ... Kozzarowski
Harold Landon Harold Landon ... Frankie Montana


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

island | mission | battle | combat | marine | See All (59) »


ON THEIR WAY TO TOKYO...THE FIERCE BATTLE CRY OF THE U.S. MARINE RAIDERS! (print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Lindsey Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - June 28, 1944 - all caps) See more »


Drama | History | War


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


There were four Raider Battalions organized during WWII from 1942-44. They were disbanded on 1/8/44 when it was decided they had outlived their original mission. They became part of the 4th Marine Div., and personnel at the Raider Training Center were transferred to the new 5th Marine Div. In 2014 the Marine Special Operations Regiment, formed in 2006, was renamed the Marine Raider Regiment. See more »


U.S.S. Nautilus and U.S.S. Argonaut were the submarines used in the Makin Island raid. Both subs mounted two deck guns and, due to their size, could not be mistaken for Gato class subs. The Nautilus carried 6" deck guns and were used to shell shipping in the harbor at Makin. See more »


Lt.C.J.Cristoforos: A call has been issued by the commanding general for volunteers for a special battalion to be formed at once. Now this battalion will go into training for a particular combat duty overseas. Those men who can pass the severe requirements of this unit will be assured of immediate acts of service. The work involves close combat with the enemy, and only those men who are prepared to kill or be killed should apply. Those who accept it will be highly trained and will have every chance of survival. ...
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Referenced in Loose Women (1997) See more »

User Reviews

A decent straight-forward war film
22 July 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

When you watch GUNG HO!, you'll probably soon recognize how crappy the print is. I know it's been in the public domain and the copy recent shown on Turner Classic Movies was very dark and a bit fuzzy--and TCM usually shows the best print available.

As for the film, despite having Randolph Scott and some familiar faces (Noah Beery, Jr., Robert Mitchum and others), it's an amazingly straight-forward and simple film. The usual clichés and side stories, while still present, are much fewer in number and far more emphasis is placed on the training and combat. Additionally, I was amazed at how brutal the film was, as the Raiders were taught to fight very dirty and there was an amazing amount of blood for a 40s era film. It was uncompromising and direct throughout the movie.

The film itself is about a special unit within the Marines that were akin to the Army Rangers or a Special Forces unit. Apparently they were a real group and the film was made about their first mission in 1942--only a few months before this film was produced! Because it was so direct and simple, I really enjoyed the film. However, for lovers of Randolph Scott, while he's in GUNG HO!, his role is rather simple and quite unlike his later persona in Westerns.

By the way, although the film was pretty good, it featured one of the dumber war clichés as one of the soldier pulls a grenade pin with his teeth--a great way to rip out or shatter your teeth.

For more information about this raid (some of which is much more incredible than what is in the film), try http://www.usmarineraiders.org/makin.html.

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English | Japanese

Release Date:

20 December 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gung Ho! See more »


Box Office


$866,898 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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