Sands of Iwo Jima
Action / Classics / Drama / War
Directed by Allan Dwan
John Wayne as Sergeant John M. Stryker
John Agar as Pfc. Peter Conway
Forrest Tucker as Pfc. Al Thomas
Wally Cassell as Pfc. Benny Regazzi
James Brown as Pfc. Charlie Bass
Richard Webb as Pfc. Dan Shipley
Arthur Franz as Corporal Robert Dunne and Narrator
James Holden as Pfc. Soames
Peter Coe as Pfc. George Hellenpolis
Richard Jaeckel as Pfc. Frank Flynn
William Murphy as Pfc. Eddie Flynn
George Tyne as Pfc. Harris
Hal Baylor as Pfc. 'Sky' Choynski
Adele Mara as Allison Bromley
Julie Bishop as Mary
Sands of Iwo Jima is a 1949 war film which follows a group of US Marines from training to the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. It stars John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara and Forrest Tucker.
Marine Sergeant John Stryker has a bad reputation with his men as being cold, unfeeling and brutal in his constant drilling and punishing them for the slightest infraction. Private Peter Conway has an intense dislike for Stryker because he reminds Conway of his demanding father, Col. Sam Conway, who Stryker served with. Conway also falls in love with Allison Bromley in a dance hall, and shortly the two are married, despite Stryker's attempts to warn Conway.
During the battle of Tarawa Stryker's men begin to get an idea of his bravery and the reasons behind his lessons, when he surges forward to take out an enemy bunker single-handedly. PFC Thomas learns a harsh lesson when he stops for a cup of coffee with soldiers in one foxhole, leaving the men he was supposed to be supplying with ammunition to run out and get overrun. PFC Bass is one of the men and is wounded in the attack, but Stryker obeys his orders instead of moving to help the wounded soldier.
Later, in Hawaii, Stryker discovers the reason that Bass was wounded, Thomas' dereliction of duty, and challenges him to a fight. The fight is stopped by a Major, who asks how the fight started. Knowing that Stryker could get drummed out of the military for hitting a subordinate, and due to the guilt that he feels, he tells the Major that Stryker was just showing him some fighting moves.
The group is put to the test when they are ordered to fight on Iwo Jima, and there Stryker's training and his men's courage become apparent.
Onscreen credits dedicate Sands of Iwo Jima to the U.S. Marines and states, "The first American flag was raised on Mount Suribachi by the late Sgt. Ernest I. Thomas, Jr., U.S.M.C. on the morning of February 23, 1945."
Many of the soldiers in the film are actual marines appearing as themselves. Nearly 2000 Marines were used as extras for Sands of Iwo Jima.
The shots that depicted the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima are of the flag that the Marine Corps actually put there. The U.S.M.C. allowed Republic the use of it from the Marine Museum at Quantico, VA.
The photograph depicting the raising of the flag was taken by Joe Rosenthal who won a Pulitzer Prize for it after it appeared in Life Magazine on March 26th, 1945.
According to Variety Magazine, some of the fighting footage was actual battle footage shot during the real battles for Tarawa and Iwo Jima.
John Wayne's footprints and handprints were placed in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood on the same day that Sands of Iwo Jima premiered there. As part of publicity for the event, actual black sand from Iwo Jima was flown to Hollywood and mixed into the cement.
John Wayne received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for the role of Sergeant Stryker in Sands of Iwo Jima. He wouldn't win the award until "True Grit" in 1969.
During the scene where Joe Rosenthal takes his Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, the three surviving marines who were there make a cameo appearance:
Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who raised the second flag on Mt. Suribachi during the actual battle, appear briefly in the film just prior to the re-enactment. Ira Hayes was also the subject of a film biography, "The Outsider" starring Tony Curtis, and Bradley the subject of a book by his son James, Flags of Our Fathers.
Also appearing as themselves are 1st Lt. Harold Schrier, who led the flag-raising patrol on Iwo Jima, Col. David M. Shoup, later Commandant of the Marine Corps and recipient of the Medal of Honor at Tarawa, and Lt. Col. Henry P. 'Jim' Crowe, commander of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines at Tarawa, where he earned the US Navy Cross.
Originally the role of Sergeant Stryker was to be played by Kirk Douglas.
John Wayne nearly refused the role due to his age and what he felt was an American lack of interest in war movies.
Republic pictures gave the U.S.M.C. script approval rights for Sands of Iwo Jima.
40 years after the release of Sands of Iwo Jima, a made for television documentary about the making of Sands of Iwo Jima was released.
During the early 1980's Sands of Iwo Jima was required viewing for all Marine recruits.