1940s The Fighting Sullivans (1944)

Published on May 21st, 2008 | by Chris

5

The Fighting Sullivans (1944)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On May 21, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

I can only imagine the reaction to this film by the public of that time, with so many lives given up, and so many others sharing a common experience. The Fighting Sullivans, while not so much war movie as it is tribute to American sacrifice, is still a classic.

The Fighting Sullivans (1944)The Fighting Sullivans documents the tragic loss of the five Sullivan brothers, who died while serving together on the USS Juneau in the Solomon Islands. This story served as an inspiration for Saving Private Ryan, and it is as relevant and painful a story today as it was then.

Although the film itself is not at all what I expected it to be. We find ourselves "getting to know" the Sullivan boys, from their christenings, on up through the years and their various (mis)adventures. Instead of a typical "war movie", we get a sort of biography. Not that its a bad thing, the majority of the film is as heart-warming, funny, and true-to-life for most people as you can get.

Which makes the final few scenes all the more heart-wrenching. In a lot of ways this film could be made today, in spite of the fact that the Navy won't allow these sort of situations to happen anymore (I think?) But whether its five or one, the loss is just as bad.

The Fighting Sullivans is also a bit of a time-machine, with respect to what it was like growing up back then, and how problems were dealt with. The scenes with the young brothers running around un-challenged in a train yard made me think how commonplace that sort of thing must've been, and how horrified most people today would be at that. The entire "smoking" incident also brings a "it'd never happen today" vibe, although you've all heard the stories, you'd probably be thrown in jail for doing that to your kids today.... Don't even get me started on the wood-box scene!

Like most films of the era, though, The Fighting Sullivans ends on a somewhat triumphant note, both with the "life must go on" mentality of the father as he goes to his job the same as always immediately after hearing the terrible news, and passing the water tower where his young kids would see him off. Likewise as we end the picture, with the family christening the USS The Sullivans, and we see the brothers marching off towards the pearly gates.

I can only imagine the reaction to this film by the public of that time, with so many lives given up, and so many others sharing a common experience. The Fighting Sullivans, while not so much war movie as it is tribute to American sacrifice, is still a classic.

The Fighting Sullivans - Commemorative Edition The Fighting Sullivans - Commemorative Edition
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Description

The Iowa Sullivans raise five sons who join the Navy and are killed on the Juneau in World War II.

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: Video Communications Inc.
Manufacturer: Vci Video
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Anne Baxter
  • Thomas Mitchell
  • Selena Royle
  • Edward Ryan
  • Trudy Marshall

Features

  • Factory sealed DVD

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Slapdash Discs, June 8, 2013
By 
Auntie Analogue (St. Louis, MO United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Fighting Sullivans - Commemorative Edition (DVD)
This two-disc commemorative edition of 'The Fighting Sullivans' contains on its Disc One a decent print/transfer of the title film, and on its Disc Two a fine selection of special features, including speeches by and interviews with some of the last survivors of the sinking of the USS Juneau. The problem is the quality of the DVD's, which is poor.

Let's begin with the DVD sleeve cover image, which shows in sailor uniforms five men who are NOT in the film - I don't know why the producers of this set didn't simply do a screen capture of the scene from the film for this sleeve cover image, instead of substituting an image of five anonymous men who do not appear in the film.

Then comes Disc One, whose subtitles would not switch off when I pressed my remote control to switch them off; and I found that all the other controls on the remote - pause, fast-forward, reverse, and even STOP (!) - did not work, and so the movie just kept on playing through; and even when the... Read more
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Story, October 28, 2013
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This review is from: The Fighting Sullivans - Commemorative Edition (DVD)
I first saw The Sullivans as an eleven year old in 1945. I loved it, First because I could so easily relate to the boyhood activities of the Sullivan boys, and second, I found two scenes near the end of the movie so moving and heart wrenching that I never forgot them, and they explain why,so many years later, I have bought the DVD of the The Fighting Sullivans (always just The Sullivans in Australia). The scene in which Ward Bond as a naval officer, visits the Sullivan family home to break the tragic news has stood the test of time. To Mrs Sullivan's question "Which one?" the naval officer replies, Äll five." A shattered Mr Sullivan then says he has to go to work;he has not missed a day in his job over many years as a freight conductor(In Australia he would have been a railway guard). We know that the train he gets on will pass the tank stand where his five young children used to stand to wave to their father as the train passed by. This time, in 1942,the tank stand... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fighting Sullivans, January 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Fighting Sullivans - Commemorative Edition (DVD)
This is a great true story about five brothers who join the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were always together as kids and wanted to stay together in the Navy. They did serve on the same ship that was bombed and all five brothers were killed. Because of this incident a rule was instituted that no brothers could serve on the same ship. The movie opens up with them being born, baptized, and making their first Communion. The youngest boy helping his brothers in a fight gets a black eye on the eve of his First Holy Communion. Their mother carts them off to see the priest for forgiveness. It's another great movie from the 40s and one that the entire family can enjoy.
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The Fighting Sullivans (1944) Chris

Summary: I can only imagine the reaction to this film by the public of that time, with so many lives given up, and so many others sharing a common experience. The Fighting Sullivans, while not so much war movie as it is tribute to American sacrifice, is still a classic.

4.0


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



5 Responses to The Fighting Sullivans (1944)

  1. Curstie Ingam says:

    being the great grand-daughter of Albert Sullivan i have always loved this movie, just to kind of have an idea of what they were like and knowing the story of how he met my great grandma is amazing

  2. ELEANOR says:

    WHERE CAN I BUY THIS MOVIE ?

  3. the war movie buff says:

    Disagree. I found it trite and cheesy. It might have been entertaining back then, but compared to modern war movies it is definitely a curio. Try comparing it to “Saving Private Ryan” – what a time warp!

  4. Christian says:

    To “The War Movie Buff”, if you were such a buff, you would know that the Sullivans ARE the basis for Saving Private Ryan. Either way, I really find it unfair to compare the two movies. But to be that ignorant, as a movie lover, tells me that you should limit your comments to what you know.

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