1940s Wake Island (1942)

Published on June 5th, 2007 | by Chris

1

Wake Island (1942)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On June 5, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012

Summary:

Look, I'm all for classic war movies, and Wake Island just ain't one of 'em. Now, I understand the need for a little artistic license, especially in the name of much-needed (and wanted) wartime propaganda flicks. I'm not against that. But there's a line.

Wake Island (1942)Two words: Um. Yeah. Two more words: Don't bother.

Look, I'm all for classic war movies, and Wake Island just ain't one of 'em. Now, I understand the need for a little artistic license, especially in the name of much-needed (and wanted) wartime propaganda flicks. I'm not against that. But there's a line.

First of all, let me point you here, to an historical account of the Battle of Wake Island. Back already? OK.

So maybe Wake Island the movie just embellished the facts a little. OK, a lot. I can give you that.

What I can't give this movie is a good rating based on that alone. With a barely-capable cast barely reciting badly written dialog that sounds like it belongs in some bad kids TV show, this goes on my list of war movie lemons.

Oh, and don't get me started on the special effects. Special in that short-bus kind of way. No care was taken to even pretend to get any kind of continuity. Shots of one plane, turn to shots of a different plane, or even some bi-plane! Eeek!

In short, this thing was rushed out the door by the War Dept. in '42, and it shows. Having just seen such classics deserving the title such as "The Sands of Iwo Jima" and "Sergeant York," this was not a pleasant experience.

I'm stretching to give this one a three. Of ten. Only because at the time, I'm sure they all thought they were doing the right thing, the filmmakers I mean.

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Description

Nominated for four Academy Awards, this hard-hitting film was the first realistic American film made about World War II. Based on the incredible true story of a handful of U.S. Marines holding out against an overwhelming Japanese air, land and sea assault, the film stars Brian Donlevy, MacDonald Carey, Robert Preston and William Bendix as the brave men who battled their way to glory and into the pages of history.

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: UNI DIST CORP. (MCA)
Manufacturer: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Brian Donlevy
  • MacDonald Carey
  • Robert Preston
  • William Bendix

Features

  • Factory sealed DVD

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story runs almost parallel with the soon to be released movie and wonderful book, "Unbroken, November 19, 2014
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This review is from: Wake Island (DVD)
Hard to imagine a marine detachment led by Col. Deveraux on Wake forced into prisoner war work camps. Col.Deveraux was captured and sent as a war prisoner to slave coal at mines near Tokyo. I was stationed at Wake during the Korean War. I was assigned the high privilege of escorting the then General and member of the US Congress back to Wake. Ultimately and at wars end he was promoted to General, elected to congress and made his first return to WAKE where I was his personal escort in 1953. I had the high honor of escorting this living legend. The story runs almost parallel with the soon to be released movie and wonderful book, "Unbroken." It turns out that I became a part of this history. I do have some photos of the return of the General. I can still feel the excitement of that day now 60 years later.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting as a Period Piece, June 12, 2013
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This review is from: Wake Island (DVD)
If you're interested in seeing a good example of wartime propaganda, then this is one movie to watch. If you're interested in historical accuracy, forget it!

Not that it's the movie's fault, mind you. The movie was made in the middle of WWII, when all the surviving defenders of Wake Island were still in Japanese prisoner of war camps, and so had no opportunity to tell their stories.

It's too bad no one ever thought of remaking the movie after the war was over to include their accounts, because the true story is far more interesting and dramatic than this made-up version. Might I recommend reading Duane Schultz's "Wake Island" - a very readable narrative, showing how truly heroic the doomed garrison was in the face of overwhelming odds, and how they amazingly almost won the battle! The story of how the airplane mechanics managed to keep the pitifully few aircraft they had operational until almost the very end of the siege is an epic in itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Land Battle Scenes are some of the Most Realistic I've ever seen., November 13, 2014
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This review is from: Wake Island (DVD)
The Land Battle Scenes are some of the Most Realistic I've ever seen. Vastly superior to the fake looking battle scenes shown in Saving Pvt. Ryan for example.

You have a real feeling of what it must've been like on Wake Island during the Japanese attacks. The naval battles are done with models, but they look pretty good even by today's standards.

It's a shame that these brave Marines, and civilian contractors were not better supported by the US government. Interestingly, Wake Island was, “more or less” bypassed by the US counteroffensive against Japan.

Picture and sound is excellent. The movie starts right away with no fuss and no annoying commercials.

This is a good war movie, and belongs in your DVD collection.
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Wake Island (1942) Chris

Summary: Look, I'm all for classic war movies, and Wake Island just ain't one of 'em. Now, I understand the need for a little artistic license, especially in the name of much-needed (and wanted) wartime propaganda flicks. I'm not against that. But there's a line.

1.5


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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.



One Response to Wake Island (1942)

  1. In the same vein as the thoroughly enjoyable Air Force and the dreadful Wake Island comes the light-hearted yet still deadly serious Bombardier.  It’s basically a War Department-sponsored (with real Air Corps Brass no less!) bit of propaganda which f

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