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Flying Leathernecks

128 customer reviews

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(May 04, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's World War II. Major Dan Kirby (John Wayne) is hard on his marines. His subordinate Captain Carl Griffin thinks the Major is overdoing it. But Kirby proves that there is a method to his madness after all.

John Wayne and Robert Ryan co-star in Flying Leathernecks, Nicholas Ray's intense 1951 war movie that managed to appeal to RKO studio chief Howard Hughes's passion for thrilling aerial footage while supplying Ray's own fascination with the human psyche under near-inhuman duress. Wayne plays Major Dan Kirby, commander of a Marine Flying Corps squadron in the South Pacific of World War II. After witnessing the slaughter of men under his command at Midway, Kirby is battle-hardened and in no mood for the familiar style of his executive officer (Ryan). Emotions are further strained as Kirby's pilots are picked off one by one in grueling missions, leading to a crisis that ultimately forces each man to reevaluate his attitude toward sending men to their likely doom. The drama is built around extensive, startling documentary footage of battle action in the sky, but what makes Flying Leathernecks unique is its literate, psychologically probing script. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Don Taylor, Janis Carter, Jay C. Flippen
  • Directors: Nicholas Ray
  • Writers: Beirne Lay Jr., James Edward Grant, Kenneth Gamet
  • Producers: Edmund Grainger
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: May 4, 2004
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001FVE4U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,689 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Flying Leathernecks" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By T O'Brien on August 24, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Flying Leathernecks is an entertaining John Wayne adventure about a squadron of Marine fighters stationed on Guadalcanal during the fierce fighting. The Duke plays Major Daniel Kirby, a new squadron leader who tries to get the men into fighting shape as he tries to prove his theory of ground attacks heavily supported by air support. Kirby and his executive officer, Captain Griffin butt heads as they argue over how to treat the men. The plot might sound familiar to Sands of Iwo Jima which it is, but it is still a quality movie. The aerial shots are taken from actual WWII footage that work pretty well with the shots of the actors in their planes. The story is fairly predictable, but it is still worth a watch if nothing else.
John Wayne is pretty good as tough as nails Major Kirby, a role very similar to his role as Sergeant Stryker that earned him a Best Actor nomination. Robert Ryan gives a decent performance as Captain Griffin, who Kirby believes is not ready to take over command of the squadron. Wayne and Ryan work well together throughout. Don Taylor plays Griffin's brother-in-law and fellow squadron member. Jay C. Flippen has a very funny role as Master Sergeant Clancy, Kirby's line chief who has a talent for taking things that are just lying around. Like all Duke movies, I hope this one gets a DVD release since the VHS is not in the best of shape. For an enjoyable Duke adventure, check out Flying Leathernecks!
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 22, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Flying Leathernecks is one of my favorite war dramas to watch on a boring, rainy, summer day. John Wayne is a Marine avatior who drives his men to the edge during training and in the war, installing hatred in their hearts againist him, especially his second in command, played by Robert Ryan, who clashes with Wayne, but goes easy on the squad. Later in the movie, Wayne teaches Ryan the importance of being hard and rough on the squad. This movies should have got some Oscar nominations for
Best Actor: John Wayne
Best Cinematography
Best Supporting Actor: Robert Ryan and for
Best Special Effects.
If you were in the Marine Corps, and if you want to see some old war planes, like Corsairs, Wildcats, a PBY seaplane, and a real harsh look at what Marine Corps pilots went through in WWII, give this movie a try. I recemend it to anyone who served in the Marines, John Wayne fans, and models buffs. Semper Fi Go Marines.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leeper on May 28, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
The Duke himself is in this movie about Marine pilots in the South Pacific during World War II. Since this movie was made in the fifties, there is not a lot of gore and violence. The fight scenes you see are mostly actual footage from aerial combats during WWII.
The movie centers around two things. First, it shows the usage of military planes providing close ground support. Repeatedly, everyone mentions it can't be done, but the Duke and his group continue to show that it is viable. Second, we see the agonies of command.
John Wayne is a major who is not always liked by his subordinates. He is a career military man trying to keep his team, mostly young college men, alive by enforcing discipline. He drives them relentlessly as the executive officer tries to ease up on them. By the end of the movie, the executive officer gets an explanation on why it is necessary for commanders to push their men.
For military film buffs or John Wayne fans, I would highly recommend seeing this movie.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roberto Frangie on December 30, 2006
Format: DVD
'Flying Leathernecks' illustrates the problems of leadership...

Major Dan Kirby (John Wayne) is commander of a Marine Corps fighting unit sent to Guadalcanal to give support to the ground troops... He is short of planes and pilots, and drives his men to the point of complete breakdown...

The executive officer, Griff (Robert Ryan) objects to Kirby's hard treatment of the men, but he lets his human feelings cloud his judgment... For a soldier that is bad... Kirby is recalled to the States to train pilots in his new low-level attack technique, and before leaving he informs Griff that he does not consider him fit to command... He hasn't yet got the guts to lead...

When they are reunited later, the hostility between them is intense... An emergency arises, and there is a scramble to get into the air to intercept a formation of Japanese bombers...

In the air, Griff's brother-in-law develops engine trouble, turns back and suddenly finds Japanese fighters on his tail... He radios for help... It is Griff's decision... Reluctantly, he commands his men to proceed... They are not to turn back...

Ray was a dynamic, socially conscious director with a keen visual sense and a gift for attaining fluid motion on the screen... He was more comfortable with the darker shadings of 'Rebel Without a Cause' and 'Johnny Guitar,' but he gets fine performances from his stars...

Wayne's strict discipline play well against Ryan's angry intensity, even if everyone in the audience understands that they're going to wind up on the same side by the end of the film...

The air combats shots are impressive but Ray never really puts the viewer in the airplane the way the best flying films do... Nothing here comes close to John Guillermin's 'The Blue Max', 1966 or even Howard Hughes' 'Hell's Angels', 1930.
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