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Flying Leathernecks (1951)



Flying Leathernecks

(1951)

102 minutes

Directed by Nicholas Ray

Drama / War / Action

Cast:

John Wayne as Dan Kirby

Robert Ryan as Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin

Don Taylor as Cowboy

Janis Carter as Joan Kirby

Jay C. Flippen as Line Chief Clancy

William Harrigan as Dr. Joe Curan

James Bell as Colonel

Barry Kelley as General

Maurice Jara as Shorty Vegay

Adam Williams as Lt. 'Big Joe' Malotke

James Dobson as Pudge McCabe


Major Dan Kirby is selected to lead Marine fighter squadron VMF247 instead of the current executive officer, Captain Carl Griffin, a decision that the men of the squad resent. To make matters worse, Kirby is a strict by-the-book officer and proves this when he orders Lt. Simmons to stand court marshal for breaking formation to go after an enemy fighter. Griffin tries to intervene on the young Lieutenant’s behalf, to no avail. After an outbreak of jungle fever Kirby is forced to reinstate Simmons. More missions need to be flown, and Kirby and Griffin continue to struggle over the morale of the troops to continue to be an effective fighting force. It appears that Griffin might just win command of the squad when Kirby is rotated out of the squad, but that changes quickly when Kirby is promoted to Colonel and reassigned back to the operation on Guadalcanal. Griffin’s brother-in-law, Cowboy, is assigned to the squad to replace lost pilots, and Griffin is given his biggest test when Cowboy’s plane is shot down. The squad wants to break formation to help him, but Griffin realizes that doing so could cost more lives and jeopardize the larger mission and orders his squad to stay on course. His personal sacrifice and willingness to put the lives of others above his own family finally convinces Kirby that Griffin is ready to lead the squad.
 

Notes: Robert Ryan served in the Marines and was both a drill instructor and a boxer with a 5-0 record with 3 knockouts. It is partially due to this that led him to be cast opposite John Wayne by director Nicholas Ray. Ray reportedly stated that Ryan was the only actor he could think of that could “kick Wayne’s ass.” Ryan didn’t get along well with Wayne at all on the set, due primarily to a difference of political views. Ryan was a liberal democrat who campaigned for civil liberties and could not understand John Wayne’s support for blacklisting in Hollywood.
 

The character of Major Kirby was based on Major John L. Smith who shot down 19 Japanese planes in the Solomon Islands campaign. Under his command Marine Fighter Squadron 223 destroyed 83 enemy aircraft. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt.
 




Directors:
Actors: Robert Ryan, John Wayne
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Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan
Matinee Classics - Flying Leathernecks starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan


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