In 1818 Alabama, French settlers are pitted against greedy land-grabber Blake Randolph but Kentucky militiaman John Breen, who's smitten with French gal Fleurette De Marchand, comes to the settlers' aid.
Col. Mike Kirby picks two teams of crack Green Berets for a mission in South Vietnam. First off is to build and control a camp that is trying to be taken by the enemy the second mission is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General.
After his wife takes their son and leaves him, Sgt. John Stryker is an embittered man who takes his misery out on the men under his command. They're a bunch of green recruits who have a hard time dealing with Stryker's tough drills and thicker skin. Even his old friends start to wonder if he's gone from being the epitome of a tough Marine Sergeant to a man over the edge.Written by
According to the book "New Zealand Film" by Helen Martin and Sam Edwards, "During the early sections of the film, the R&R camp at Paekakariki in the lower half of the North Island [of New Zealand] was the setting for the meeting and bonding sequences prior to departing for battle. The same camp is the focus of the reminiscences of one of the women who contributed to Gaylene Preston's documentary 'War Stories' [War Stories (1995)]. See more »
After Sgt. Stryker dances with Choynski, he stands a little way from Choynski. The next shot shows them both side by side. See more »
Opening credits prologue:To the United States Marine Corps whose exploits and valor have left a lasting impression on the world and in the hearts of their countrymen. Appreciation is gratefully acknowledged for their assistance and participation which made this picture possible. See more »
Sgt John M. Stryker is a battle hardened Marine who's job it is to prepare his new charges for the realities of war. With no care for making friends, Stryker does what ever it takes to make these men tough and ready for the Pacific conflicts to come.
Sands Of Iwo Jima is unashamedly proud in its jingoistic fervour, and rightly so. Iwo Jima, and the now immortal portrait of weary American soldiers hoisting the flag atop Mt. Suribachi, has become a bastion of bravery, a beacon of triumph if you will. So it's no surprise to find Allan Dwan's film has no intention if deviating from boasting its colours, and hooray to that. Here as Stryker we find John Wayne giving a bit more to his character portrayal than merely some beefcake winning the war. Wayne puts depth and sincerity into Stryker, an air of believability shines through as he shows vulnerability, we believe he can win this war with his men, but we also see tenderness and it lifts Sands higher than your average war picture.
Wise old director Dwan (432 directing credits to his name), weaves the picture together with admirable restraint. Fusing actual newsreel footage with his own tightly handled action sequences, Sands plays out as the tribute and rally call that it has every right to be, even finding place in the film for three of the soldiers who hoisted that now famous flag. Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon and John Bradley are the three gentlemen to look out for. The rest of the cast don't really have to do much outside of respond to Wayne's two fold performance, but keep an eye out for a fresh faced Richard Jaeckel as Pfc. Frank Flynn, while I personally enjoyed the brief, but important contribution from Julie Bishop as Mary.
Wayne received a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards (too bad for him that 49 contained brilliant shows from the winner Broderick Crawford & a blunderbuss turn from Gregory Peck), with other nominations going to the Best Story, Editing and Sound categories. Ironically it was a role Wayne didn't fancy doing, but some encouragements from war veterans humbled him into starring.
Lock and load and saddle up for a top entry in the WWII pantheon. 8/10
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