1950s Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Published on June 28th, 2007 | by Chris

1

Flying Leathernecks (1951)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On June 28, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012

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.

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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Description

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 Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: TURNER HM ENTERTAINM
Manufacturer: Turner Home Ent
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • John Wayne
  • Robert Ryan
  • Don Taylor
  • Janis Carter
  • Jay C. Flippen

Features

  • 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

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sands of Iwo Jima in the air, August 24, 2003
By 
T O'Brien (Chicago, Il United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Flying Leathernecks is an entertaining John Wayne adventure about a squadron of Marine fighters stationed on Guadalcanal during the fierce fighting. The Duke plays Major Daniel Kirby, a new squadron leader who tries to get the men into fighting shape as he tries to prove his theory of ground attacks heavily supported by air support. Kirby and his executive officer, Captain Griffin butt heads as they argue over how to treat the men. The plot might sound familiar to Sands of Iwo Jima which it is, but it is still a quality movie. The aerial shots are taken from actual WWII footage that work pretty well with the shots of the actors in their planes. The story is fairly predictable, but it is still worth a watch if nothing else.
John Wayne is pretty good as tough as nails Major Kirby, a role very similar to his role as Sergeant Stryker that earned him a Best Actor nomination. Robert Ryan gives a decent performance as Captain Griffin, who Kirby believes is not ready to take over... Read more
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flying Leathernecks!!........cool flying.........go Marines, February 22, 2004
A Kid's Review
Flying Leathernecks is one of my favorite war dramas to watch on a boring, rainy, summer day. John Wayne is a Marine avatior who drives his men to the edge during training and in the war, installing hatred in their hearts againist him, especially his second in command, played by Robert Ryan, who clashes with Wayne, but goes easy on the squad. Later in the movie, Wayne teaches Ryan the importance of being hard and rough on the squad. This movies should have got some Oscar nominations for
Best Actor: John Wayne
Best Cinematography
Best Supporting Actor: Robert Ryan and for
Best Special Effects.
If you were in the Marine Corps, and if you want to see some old war planes, like Corsairs, Wildcats, a PBY seaplane, and a real harsh look at what Marine Corps pilots went through in WWII, give this movie a try. I recemend it to anyone who served in the Marines, John Wayne fans, and models buffs. Semper Fi Go Marines.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Duke on Command, May 28, 2002
By 
The Duke himself is in this movie about Marine pilots in the South Pacific during World War II. Since this movie was made in the fifties, there is not a lot of gore and violence. The fight scenes you see are mostly actual footage from aerial combats during WWII.
The movie centers around two things. First, it shows the usage of military planes providing close ground support. Repeatedly, everyone mentions it can't be done, but the Duke and his group continue to show that it is viable. Second, we see the agonies of command.
John Wayne is a major who is not always liked by his subordinates. He is a career military man trying to keep his team, mostly young college men, alive by enforcing discipline. He drives them relentlessly as the executive officer tries to ease up on them. By the end of the movie, the executive officer gets an explanation on why it is necessary for commanders to push their men.
For military film buffs or John Wayne fans, I would highly recommend... Read more
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Flying Leathernecks (1951) Chris

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.

4.0


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


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 Flying Leathernecks (1951)

  1. 1942’s Flying Tigers pays homage to the group of American volunteers who risked their lives to help the Chinese under Japanese occupation before World War II.  John Wayne stars as Capt. Jim Gordon, in a role (although not the same character) he would

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