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USA 1949
Directed by
Allan Dwan
110 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Sands Of Iwo Jima

Allan Dwan's film is an unabashed salute to Uncle Sam and the heroism of his self-sacrificing men of war. Released by Republic Pictures who specialised in B-grades the film, replete with large swathes of stock footage, unconvincing sets and back-projected photography not to mention the stilted acting, but lifted considerably by the performance of John Wayne (who earned an Oscar nomination for his effort) as the hard man-of-honour, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant John N. Stryker.

The film tells the story of the taking of the island of Iwo Jima during WW2 by the Americans from the Japanese, or as The Duke refers to them at one point, “little lemon-coloured characters”. To its credit the film manages to well integrate archival footage of the actual battle with the new scenes (shot at the Camp Pendleton in San Diego) and the commercially successful film probably looked quite authentic in its day. It includes a re-staging of the (already–staged) raising of the flag scene above Mount Suribachi that has become a Marine icon.

Screenwriters Harry Brown and James Edward Grant try to give their formulaic script depth by larding it with all manner of moral dilemmae but these are so superficially adhered to the main ideological import of America-land-of-the-brave ideology as to have little traction. The final scene which has Stryker’s opposite number (played with excruciating boy-next-door wholesomeness by John Agar), after a protracted upward-staring session at the above-mentioned raising of The Stars and Stripes and using the now-dead Stryker’s catch phrase grimly calling to his fellow grunts, “All right, saddle up and let’s get back in the war”. 




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