'Gung Ho!': The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders (1943)

Approved   |    |  Drama, History, War

'Gung Ho!': The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders (1943) Poster

The true story of Carlson's Raiders and their World War II attack on Makin Island.


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5 February 2011 | jayraskin
| Granddaddy of the "Dirty Dozen"
I thought it was interesting that Carlson claims in the beginning that he was with Mao Tse Tung on his Long March. Apparently, Carlson takes the skills and lessons that he learned from the Red Army in Guerilla Warfare and trains a couple of hundred bad boy Americans how to kill and throw themselves on barb wire. The first half of the film follows the training and even has time for a bit of a love story with Noah Beery Jr. (best known from "Rockfile Files" perhaps).

The second half involves a submarine ride and a raid on an island held by the Japanese. The action is surprisingly intense. Some scenes, like the shooting of Japanese out of trees reach the level of brutal poetic metaphor. These action scenes detail fierce fighting and are surprisingly even handed with both American and Japanese troops biting the dust pretty regularly.

Unlike, "Walk in the Sun" where the audience is given the chance to know and care about each soldier, there is only a pretty stereotyped introduction and then they are molded into one tough killing machine. The title "Gung Ho" we learn means "harmonious work" and that is what we get with precision maneuvers and no hesitation in the face of death on the battlefield.

One could call this communist propaganda, but without films like this, could fascism East and West have been defeated?

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