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During WW2, 17-year-old Ira Hamilton Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona, enlists in the Marine Corps. During boot camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Ira strikes up a strong and long-lasting friendship with fellow marine, Jim Sorenson. Shipped to the Pacific Theatre of Operations, the two marines fight on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima. They are among the six marines who raise the U.S. flag on Suribachi. Soon afterwards, Sorenson is killed by enemy fire in front of a stunned Ira. Later on, the surviving three marines who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima are ordered back to the USA to participate in a war bond drive. They tour the country, surrounded by the mass-media and the adoring crowds. They participate at rallies, meetings, media-events and parades. They are asked to make public speeches to persuade the citizens to buy war bonds. However, heartbroken over his friend's death, Ira often turns to booze to give himself the courage to continue. His drinking worsens and he is sent back ...Written by
Clint Eastwood in Flags Of Our Fathers has probably given us the definitive version of the story of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Three of the six were later killed in action before the the flag raising became a Marine Corps symbol. The other three came back to all kinds of publicity because they became media heroes.
Probably you couldn't find three more ordinary guys than Jesse Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes. The first two lived long lives in respectable obscurity after their 15 minutes of fame finally died down. Ira Hayes was unique in that he both survived and was a minority group member.
When Branch Rickey decided it was time to integrate baseball Jackie Robinson was chosen after a very careful selection process. Ira Hayes was part of a group photograph of a flag raising during a lull in a great battle. Fame chose him and as we see in The Outsider, he wasn't ready to deal with it.
Tony Curtis gives one of his best screen performances as Ira Hayes, the Pima Indian kid who mere chance at being in the photographer's lens when an immortal picture was snapped gave him fame he didn't want to deal with. How could he, really he was probably no better or worse than any of the other men and simply raising a flag during a lull of battle wasn't anything heroic. Hayes was acutely aware of this and felt himself unworthy to be the Jackie Robinson for the Pima Indians.
Such a sad story that Tony Curtis brings to us on the big screen. How would we deal with fame if it was suddenly thrust upon us for no discernible reason? Something Ira Hayes asked until the day he died.
Ira Hayes and Tony Curtis, himself a World War II veteran, wouldn't mind if this review was dedicated to all the men who served in the Marine Corps and fought for that volcanic island in the Pacific called Iwo Jima. Just another hero in the company of thousands of heroes, that's what Ira Hayes would have wanted.
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