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: WarnerBrothers
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • John Wayne
  • Robert Ryan
  • Don Taylor
  • Janis Carter
  • Jay C. Flippen

Features

  • DRAMA
  • Run Time: 102
  • Release Date: 5/22/2007
  • NR
  • JOHN WAYNE ROBERT RYAN

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Fatherin-in-law was a Wildcat in WWII, December 31, 2013
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This review is from: Flying Leathernecks (Amazon Video)
My Father-in-Law was a supply Sgt in the Wildcats in WWII and I went to one of their reunions in 1972 in St Paul MN. They were very proud men and very loyal. I know they were very proud of this movie. Some of the footage in the movie was original from the war used in the green screen background. Also, it is important to preserve the culture of the time, which this movie does a good job from 1951. My son did not know his grandfather, but this is a way for him to know what he did in a small way. My own father was too old to be in combat so he had to be a guard at Santa Anita racetrack guarding imprisoned American Japanese. My father was not very proud of what he had to do. They will never make a movie about what he had to do other than the shame of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What it takes from and gives to men for war, July 2, 2013
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This review is from: Flying Leathernecks (DVD)
I was a carrier fighter pilot in ww2 and flew both Grumman Hellcats and F4u Corsairs. Enough said. Don't often find
them flying in the movies especially both aircraft. I would like to purchase 4 more copies. Can you arrange that?

The camera work was fantastic as it took me right back into the cockpit. I'm a former Canadian Naval Officer on loan
to the Royal Navy at the time and few off British carriers where these two aircraft came by Lend Lease from the US. The Corsair was the fastest low level attack plane in the war which made it ideal in it's job for the US and Royal Marines backing up the Army on the ground as alluded to in the DVD.

A great Movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of 10 best war movies ever, June 13, 2007
By 
Professor Emeritus P. Bagnolo (DOWNTOWN NYC/Chic. NM USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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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
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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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