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
- Run Time: 102
- Release Date: 5/22/2007
- JOHN WAYNE ROBERT RYAN
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Sands of Iwo Jima in the air,
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
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Flying Leathernecks!!........cool flying.........go Marines,
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 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.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
The Duke on Command,
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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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.