Published on June 28th, 2007 | by Chris1
Flying Leathernecks (1951)
Face it, just about any war movie made in the fifties starring John Wayne is going to be considered a classic. By default. 1951's Flying Leathernecksis deserving of the title regardless of the main character's name.
The story is a pretty standard war-time fare, about a squadron of Marine fighter pilots in WWII Pacific waters, fighting the Japanese menace. What makes this picture stand out, though is its hard line take on the reality of war, and the toll it takes on everybody from the newest green horns to the most seasoned and scarred veterans.
Major Dan Kirby (John Wayne) is the gruff but still somewhat understanding commander, who tends to take the sometimes uncomfortable path of playing by the book. We see this dichotomy early on when he first takes command of the squadron, and overlooks some of the more harmless shenanigans of his men. When it comes down to it, though, he uses some unfortunate events to drill home the facts to his Marines.
His "counter" is Captain Carl "Griff" Griffin (Robert Ryan) who disagrees with the hardline nature of Kirby, and as such keeps getting passed over for command of this squadron. In the end he comes to understand why Kirby is the way he his, I think, not that he likes it any better.
The reality of the situation is that Kirby has a job to do, which is to order men into battle and ultimately to their deaths. He has to struggle with this every day, and the final conversation between Kirby and Griffin bears this out.
There's also a lot of humor from the pilfering Line Chief Sgt. Clancy (Jay C. Flippen), but I'm betting that's just there to keep the tone a bit lighter than it otherwise would have been. And that is probably a good thing.
Another aspect of this film that shines is the brilliant editing of documentary footage into the action. A lot of those images were (and still are) pretty harsh reminders of the danger these guys had to deal with. And there's plenty of airborne dogfighting and ground support action to be had.
Speaking of, part of this film seems to try to document the struggle to get the Marine brass to accept the role of close air support in ground combat operations. I found that an interesting statement to be making in a film of this era, and seems to echo sentiments that exist about tactics to this very day.
We also see a side of Kirby that puts him down to earth with the rest of us, his connection to his wife and kids back home, and how they deal with his service.
If you're in the mood for a great piece of aviation action that falls somewhere between the flag-waving and the dark-and-dirty then Flying Leathernecks is one to see.
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Flying Leathernecks (DVD) (Commemorative Amaray)John Wayne is a no-nonsense WWII squadron leader whose unforgiving style clashes with that of his fellow officer, Robert Ryan. But when called into action over Guadalcanal, he bravely leads his men to victory and earns the respect of all...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: TURNER HM ENTERTAINM
Manufacturer: Turner Home Ent
Original Release Date:
- John Wayne
- Robert Ryan
- Don Taylor
- Janis Carter
- Jay C. Flippen
- It's World War II. Major Dan Kirby (John Wayne) is hard on his marines. His subordinate Captain Carl Griffin thinks the Major is overdoing it. But Kirby proves that there is a method to his madness after all.Running Time: 102 min. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA Rating: NR Age: 053939791327 UPC: 053939791327 Manufacturer No: T7913
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
One of 10 best war movies ever,
This review is from: They Were Expendable/Flying Leathernecks (DBFE) (DVD)THEY WERE EXPENDABLE
Maybe because I was just a little kid, and the war was still raging, (1945) but nearing an end. Maybe it was partially because my grandfather took me to see this movie as he took me to see other movies every Saturday, and maybe it was because my Polio was gone and I could walk and run again, but mostly because my uncle was the skipper of a PT boat and knew JFK. Great Direction by John Ford, with his regular crew plus Robert Montgomery, (John Wayne, Donna Reed, Ward Bond) and many other great stars gave outstanding performances in an authentic, tropic ambiance displayed convincingly, though in Black and white.
The missions, struggles, disappointments, amiable characters just doing a very tough, under-appreciated job in plywood PT boat's which the navy and marines didn't entirely trust.
The secondary question was; would Monty and The Duke bring home a winner, or switch to submarines?
This is a short intro of the coming of age of... Read more
John Wayne movies rock,
This review is from: Flying Leathernecks (Amazon Video)
A classic film for the whole family. My son loves John Wayne and with so many modern movies being made today that are not appropriate, this is a nice treat. It also spurred an interest in history for our son which has led to more learning for our son!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
John Wayne does it right on the sea and in the air,
This review is from: They Were Expendable/Flying Leathernecks (DBFE) (DVD)
"They Were Expendable" is a true story about the first real action of PT boats in the second world war, as it occurred in the Phillipines in the early months of 1942. "The Fleet the Gods Forgot" by Winslow includes an account of Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 which closely matches the movie, and includes additional accounts of heroic action by the men who served in the squadron.
"Flying Leathernecks" is an incredible piece of history, showing F6F Hellcat fighters and F4U Corsair fighters in air operations in the Pacific and on Essex class aircraft carriers. If you enjoy seeing these historic ships and planes in real color, you should also consider "Dive Bomber" with Fred McMurray which shows air operations in 1941 on the USS Enterprise (CV-5).
These are great movies for any 2nd world war history buff.
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Summary: If you're in the mood for a great piece of aviation action that falls somewhere between the flag-waving and the dark-and-dirty then Flying Leathernecks is one to see.