Sands of Iwo Jima

Sands of Iwo Jima is a 1949 movie directed by Allan Dawn. The movie follows a squad of Marines led by sergeant Stryker (John Wayne) from training to the battle of Iwo Jima. It is one of the better war movies from this time and despite lots of Marine Corps clichés and some factual errors (different Marine Divisions fought on Tarawa and Iwo Jima for example) still quite enjoyable today. From a gear point of view it is OK, not too many mistakes and since it was filmed in the late 1940s most of the equipment used was of WW2 vintage. One of the bigger mistakes is the lack of camouflage clothing used for the fighting on Tarawa.
There is some interesting history connected to this movie. It was released at a time when many politicians felt that after the end of World War 2 the USMC was not needed anymore and wanted to get rid of it. The Marine Corps was in dire need of positive portrayal in the public and was helped with the production of “Sand of Iwo Jima”.  For the Corps this movie presented an opportunity to show the people in America what the USMC achieved and that it was an important part of Americas fighting strength. In the end the huge success of “Sands of Iwo Jima” helped in keeping the USMC active.

Another interesting fact is that in the one scene were sergeant Stryker hits a recruit on purpose with his rifle during training was criticised by the Marine Crops. They wanted to have this scene cut out as something like this “would never happen”. In the end the filmmakers persuaded the Marine Corps that this scene was necessary and it stayed in the movie

Some Actual Marines appeared in the film, among them three of the Iwo Jima flag raisers: Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley

“Saddle up!” John Wayne as sergeant John Stryker:

“Sands of Iwo Jima” trailer:

John Wayne & WW2 Marine Veteran John Bradley:

Cover of the US DVD:

~ by m1pencil on March 20, 2011.

One Response to “Sands of Iwo Jima”

  1. “That would never happen ?” Perhaps the person making that statement never visited Parris Island, South Carolina. I went through PI in 1963 and being “hit” (even with a rifle butt) was fairly common (just done discreetly) in 1963. Not complaining, nor saying it was right or wrong,… just saying it was real.

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