13 November 2005 | sol-kay
That's one you taught me Tojo!
Hard hitting war movie about the first land offensive by the US in the Pacific Theater of War. Linking up with a US Navy battle task force in the South Pacific, in late July 1942, a US Marine troop ship gets the word that it's men are to be part of the invasion of the Japanese held Solomon Islands landing at a place called Gudalcanal.
Heading the invasion force is Marine Col.Wallace Grayson, Minor Watson, of the 1st. Marine Div. who's told to expect stiff resistance when his men hit the beach. As D-Day, August 7, 1942, approaches there's an eerie feeling among the Marines on deck that this first land battle is going to be a lot different then any thing that they could possibly imagined, they were right.
Powerhouse cast headed by Marine Chaplin Father Donnelly, Preston Foster, with tough as nails Marine Sgt. Hook Malone, Llyod Noland, and young 17 year old Richard Jackel as the baby-face and non-shaving Pvt. Johnny "Chicken" Anderson storm ashore on Gaudalcanal only to find that the Japanese are nowhere to be found and the "stiff resistance" that they expected was almost non-existent. Caught off guard and by surprise the Japanese defenders took off in the jungles and caves on the island. It's there that they waited to be reinforces by fresh Nippon army and marine units from the neighboring Japanese-held islands of Rabaul and Bouganinvillea.
With the US Marines capturing the Japanese air-field on the island, renaming it Henderson Field, and having much needed supplies flown in everything look up for the leathernecks and the battle of Guadalcanal seems just about over. The truth later turned out to be that the battle only began and would last some eight months. In the end Gaudalcanal would cost the US Marines Army and Navy some 20,000 casualties by the time it was over.
Far more realistic then most of the movies made by Hollywood in WWII about WWII "Guadalcanal Diary" keeps the action up and the the false heroics down. Making the Marines in the movie more human with real emotions and feeling about surviving the battle and coming back home when the war's finally over.
We also see the Japanese as both tough and effective, as well as cunning,soldiers not the wild-eyed and mindless fanatics were used to seeing, in the many war movies released back then. Thus giving the American public a better idea of what the men in both the US Marines and Army were fighting in the war in the Pacific.
The US Marines at first being told by a captured Japanese soldier that his unit is ready to surrender send a patrol to the off-shore island village of Matanikau only to find that the Japanese troops waiting for them. In an ambush the Japanese wiped out the entire Marine patrol, including it's commanding officer Capt. Cross ,Roy Roberts. Cpt. Alvarez, Anthony Quinn, was the only survivor who escapes by swimming out at sea. It now becomes apparent that the Japanese are not giving up that easily and the Maines dig in for the major battles that are soon to come.
In a tough sea air and land campaign the US and Japanese forces slug it out as the Japanese Navy tries to cut off reinforcements to the Marines on the Island. Leaving them isolated and sitting ducks for their massive naval and air attacks. The fighting goes on unabated until the US finally breaks through the Japanese blockade. As new Army as well as Marine unites land on the Island, and on Novermber 11, 1942 launch a major counter-attack that clears Gudalcanal of Japanese troops. The Japanese, unlike in the movie, were successfully evacuated by sea not massacred on the beaches by the Marines and GI's. Still the battle of Gudalcanal was the first of many Japanese held island taken by US forces that eventually lead to the defeat of Japan in the late summer of 1945.
With all the action and heroics in the movie the most moving scene in the film is when the Marines, underground in their bunker, are being hit by a nerve wracking and murderous Japanese naval and air bombardment. The Marines acted like you would expect to act under the same circumstances, scared and afraid. Cpl. Aloysius "Taxi" Potts, William Bendix, put it best when he says "I'm no hero I'm just a guy I've come out her because somebody had to come, I don't want no medals I just want to get this over with and go back home".