6.5/10
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41 user 16 critic

Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Approved | | Action, Drama, War | 28 August 1951 (USA)
Trailer
1:49 | Trailer
Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

Director:

Nicholas Ray

Writers:

James Edward Grant (screenplay), Kenneth Gamet (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Wayne ... Maj. Daniel Xavier Kirby
Robert Ryan ... Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin
Don Taylor ... Lt. Vern 'Cowboy' Blithe
Janis Carter ... Joan Kirby
Jay C. Flippen ... MSgt. Clancy, Line Chief
William Harrigan ... Dr. Lt.Cdr. Joe Curran
James Bell ... Colonel
Barry Kelley ... Brigadier General
Maurice Jara Maurice Jara ... Shorty Vegay
Adam Williams ... Lt. Bert Malotke
James Dobson James Dobson ... Lt. Pudge McCabe
Carleton Young ... Col. Riley
Michael St. Angel ... Capt. Harold Jorgensen, Ops. Officer (as Steve Flagg)
Brett King Brett King ... 1st Lt. Ernie Stark
Gordon Gebert Gordon Gebert ... Tommy Kirby
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Storyline

Major Daniel Kirby takes command of a squadron of Marine fliers just before they are about to go into combat. While the men are well meaning, he finds them undisciplined and prone to always finding excuses to do what is easy rather than what is necessary. The root of the problem is the second in command, Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin. Griff is the best flier in the group but Kirby finds him a poor commander who is not prepared to the difficult decision that all commanders have to make - to put men in harm's way knowing that they may be killed. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

AIR-DEVILS OF THE SKY! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 August 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Devil Dogs of the Air See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (archive footage)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Wayne's character in this movie, Major Daniel Xavier Kirby, was based on Captain John Lucian Smith, USMC Ace who was Commanding Officer in the Marine Fighting Squadron 223 at Guadalcanal in 1942 during World War II. Smith was a Medal of Honor recipient in 1943 and a leader of the "Cactus" Air Force. Smith, a wildcat fighter pilot, shot down nineteen Japanese airplanes over Guadalcanal in 1942. Smith's achievements and commendations were well known to the public prior to this film being made. Smith was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and likewise, Wayne's Kirby character is also promoted to the same rank in this movie. Moreover, there is also a physical likeness and resemblance between Wayne and Smith. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the movie, just prior to Kirby (John Wayne) boarding the plane to leave, we see a wounded soldier being loaded onto a 2 engine C-47. In the next scene as Kirby is boarding the plane and is saying farewell to Griff (Robert Ryan), at the ladder, the plane is a 4 engine C-54. See more »

Quotes

Maj. Daniel Xavier Kirby: When the command meets a commander for the first time, it's like a wedding. Nobody knows how it's going to turn out. Whether it'll be a happy golden anniversary or a divorce. We'll see.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Stalag 17 (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

 
John Wayne and Robert Ryan raise the film to a higher level...
22 August 2010 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Any tension FLYING LEATHERNECKS has as a war film from the '40s about the fight against the Japanese on Guadalcanal is bolstered considerably by the decent acting jobs done by JOHN WAYNE and ROBERT RYAN as men who are soon in conflict with each other over training methods. Wayne has his usual tough guy role, hard on the surface but soft inside, and Ryan is the man who stands up to him but soon appreciates him when the going gets rough.

Whatever inaccuracies there are in historical details (as pointed out by other reviewers) don't really harm the story which is well photographed in Technicolor and includes a number of hard-hitting action scenes that are the best moments in the film. The domestic moments are the weakest elements of the story.

Wayne and Ryan are well supported by JANIS CARTER (as Wayne's worried wife) and DON TAYLOR as a carefree soldier. Well directed by Nicholas Ray, it's not as tense and exciting as it could have been but it passes the time efficiently in its own way with lots of actual war footage appearing in the action scenes.


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