The United States Marine Corps on film

The United States Marine Corps on film

The United States Marine Corps has frequently been depicted in motion pictures throughout the history of the medium.

History

U.S. Marine Corps involvement in film began with "The Star Spangled Banner" in 1918. In exchange for a favourable portrayal that stimulated recruiting for the war effort of World War I, as well as an enhanced public image for itself and the United States Congress, the Marines provided uniformed film extras, locations, equipment, and technical advisors who provided their expertise to the producers.

In 1926, MGM's "Tell it to the Marines (1926 film)" and Fox's "What Price Glory?" directed by Raoul Walsh nearly led to a court battle to see whether one studio could copyright the Marines to prevent other films from being made.

Over the years, Camp Pendleton was dressed to represent Central American nations, China, Pacific islands, and New Zealand in order to depict key locations in Marine Corps history. Joseph H. Lewis's "Retreat Hell" (1952) and Allan Dwan's John Payne film "Hold Back The Night" (1956) had the California base covered in studio snow with their hills and roads painted white to portray Korean landscapes. Camp Pendleton later doubled as Vietnam in Marshall Thompson's "To the Shores of Hell" (1966). When filming "Battle Cry" at the base in 1954, Raoul Walsh's Marine technical adviser said that he had joined the Corps after seeing Walsh's "What Price Glory?". Marine recruit training was also depicted in Jack Webb's "The D.I." (1957) and Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket".

Perhaps the largest film to have a direct impact on the Marine Corps itself was Allan Dwan's John Wayne epic film "Sands of Iwo Jima", released in 1949. At the time the film was produced, the USMC was facing its toughest battle for survival with Congressional hearings on significantly reducing the size and capabilities of the Marines. The Marines spared no expense in providing personnel, equipment, and combat cameraman footage to the production, and trained the actors to look, dress, and act like Marines. The trailer told the viewer "these are YOUR boys" and the large scale battle scenes impressed the public. The ending with Wayne's death, John Agar growing into manhood and taking Wayne's place, then the depiction of Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, and Agar leading his squad into the mists of history as a choral version of The Marine's Hymn that begins quietly and grows louder plays in the background led to an unforgettable image of the Corps. Congressmen voting on appropriations for the Corps would forever be deluged from letters from their constituents who had images of Marines running out of ammunition and being treacherously bayonetted by Japanese soldiers. President Harry S. Truman said the Corps had a "propaganda machine bigger than Joseph Stalin's" but had to apologize. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,813230-1,00.html "When I Make a Mistake" - TIME ] ] He later presented the 1st Marine Division with a Presidential Unit Citation for their gallantry in the Korean War.

See also

*List of films featuring the United States Marine Corps

Notes

References

*cite book
author=Lawliss, Chuck
title=Marine Book: A Portrait of America's Elite
publisher=Thames & Hudson
year=1992


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