Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Flying Leathernecks (1951)

“I didn’t make the rules; I only live by them.”

When a strict Major (John Wayne) takes charge of a Marine Corps aviators unit on Guadalcanal, he tries to instill a sense of stern resolve in his first officer (Robert Ryan).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Airplanes and Pilots
  • John Wayne Films
  • Nicholas Ray Films
  • Robert Ryan Films
  • World War II

Howard Hughes produced and Nicholas Ray directed this by-the-books wartime flick about the need to privilege logic over emotion when it comes to challenging leadership decisions.

Having just watched Guadalcanal Diary (1943), I was eager to see another movie taking place during this specific period of World War II-era history — but sadly, I didn’t learn a whole lot of new information. This film seems primarily made to show off aerial footage in Technicolor, particularly of Marine aviators fighting Kamikaze flyers.

As DVD Savant points out, “This particular movie is so generic it could have been directed by the focus-puller. There’s nothing for Ray to sink his teeth into here — it’s not exactly personal auteur material.” With that said, Savant points out that at least it’s “a downright sane Howard Hughes film compared to some of his other productions” — i.e., Jet Pilot (1957).

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine Technicolor cinematography

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re an aviation film buff.


One thought on “Flying Leathernecks (1951)

  1. Not must-see.

    I’ve seen this. It’s not something I would watch again. Memory tells me it’s not a ‘signature’ Nicholas Ray movie, so fans of the director may see it as more of a director-for-hire flick. Of course, it’s an earlier film in Ray’s career but, generally, anything Howard Hughes had a huge thumbprint on isn’t all that memorable. (Something like ‘His Kind of Woman’ is an exception.)

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