Pride of the Marines (1945)

“I won’t have her being a seeing eye dog for me!”

Synopsis:
A Marine hero (John Garfield) wounded in battle is reluctant to return home to his fiancee (Eleanor Parker) and face a new life without sight.

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Review:
Based on the true story of Navy Cross-winning Marine Al Schmid, this powerful (anti-)war film — sensitively directed by Delmer Daves — afforded John Garfield one of his best starring roles. Other than the inclusion of one short but genuinely terrifying battle sequence (in which Schmid loses his sight), the film is primarily concerned with the lingering effects of war on wounded veterans — and while numerous other mid-century films (i.e., Fred Zinnemann’s The Men, and William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives) did an equally fine job tackling this sensitive topic, Pride of the Marines remains a worthy entry in the limited genre. The screenplay (based closely on Schmid’s memoir) spends the entire first half-hour showing us Garfield’s courtship with Parker, firmly investing us in the idyllic life he leaves behind when he goes to war. We’re allowed ample opportunity to understand what a proud, self-determined man Schmid is — thus compounding his struggles to come to terms with his disability. Despite occasional lapses into overly patriotic banter (to be expected, given the time of the film’s release), this finely acted, little-seen movie is worth a look by all film fanatics.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • John Garfield as Al Schmid
  • Eleanor Parker as Ruthie
  • Dane Clark as Al’s fellow Marine, Lee
  • The terrifyingly realistic battle scene
  • Incisive (and occasionally surprisingly risque!) dialogue:

    “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home, Bill?”
    “I think I’ll spend about three solid weeks just saying hello to my wife.”

Must See?
Yes, for Garfield’s fine central performance, and as an all-around powerful “war film”.

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