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Tough-as-nails career Marine Sergeant John Stryker (John Wayne) is greatly disliked by the men of his squad, particularly the combat replacements, for the rigorous training he puts them through. He is especially despised by Private Peter Conway (John Agar), the arrogant, college-educated son of an officer Stryker served under and admired, and Private Al Thomas (Forrest Tucker), who blames him for his demotion. During a training exercise, a recruit drops a live hand grenade. Everybody drops to the ground except Conway, who is distracted reading a letter from his wife. Stryker knocks him down, saving his life, and then proceeds to bawl him out. When he leads his squad in the invasion of Tarawa, the men begin to appreciate his methods, except Conway, who considers him brutal and unfeeling when he apparently abandons a wounded comrade to the enemy. During the battle, Thomas goofs off when he goes to get ammunition for two comrades, stopping to savor a cup of coffee. As a result, he returns too late - the two Marines, now out of ammunition, are overrun; one is killed, the other badly wounded, by bayonets. When Stryker discovers the truth, he forces Thomas into a fistfight. Stryker is accused by an officer of striking a subordinate but Thomas unexpectedly gets him out of the jam. His conscience ravaging him, Thomas breaks down and abjectly apologizes for his dereliction. Stryker shows his soft side while on leave in Honolulu. He picks up a bargirl and goes to her apartment. He becomes suspicious when he hears somebody in the next room, but when he investigates, all he finds is a hungry baby boy she is supporting the best way she can. He gives the girl (a Marine's widow) all his money and leaves. In the next invasion, Stryker's squad is involved in the battle for Iwo Jima, in particular the iconic flag raising on Mount Suribachi. Afterwards, while the men are resting during a lull in the fighting, a sniper pops up out of a hole and kills him. His men find a letter on him, addressed to his ex-wife and son, saying all the things he wanted to say, but never got around to.

Starring ... John Wayne, John Agar, Forrest Tucker, Adele Mara,
Arthur Franz, Wally Cassell

Director: Allan Dwan
Producer: Edmund Grainger


Year Released - 1949

Length - 100 minutes

Music Composer: Victor Young

Movie Distributed by Republic Pictures



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