Pride of the Marines (1945)
|Genre||Biography, Drama, Romance, War|
|Content Rating||Approved (Approved)|
|Awards||Nominated for 1 Oscar.|
Pride of the Marines
Pride of the Marines is a 1945 American biographical war film starring John Garfield and Eleanor Parker. It tells the story of U.S. Marine Al Schmid in World War II, his heroic stand against a Japanese attack during the Battle of Guadalcanal, in which he was blinded by a grenade, and his subsequent rehabilitation. The film was based on the Roger Butterfield book Al Schmid, Marine.
Albert Maltz was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film is divided into three parts. The first takes place prior to the war. Cocky Philadelphia steel worker and "man's man" Al Schmid despises the idea of marriage and losing his independence until he meets his match in Ruth Hartley. Ruth takes no nonsense from Al and impresses him by enjoying a hunting trip he takes her on. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Al joins the Marines. Before he departs on a train to join the war, Al proposes marriage to Ruth on the station platform.
Part two is set at the Battle of the Tenaru River on the Pacific island of Guadalcanal on August 21, 1942. Schmid is in the crew of a M1917 Browning machine gun at a gun emplacement with his buddies Lee Diamond and Johnny Rivers of "H" Company 2nd Battalion First Marines. The onslaught by the enemy is particularly heavy, but the men are able to kill some 200 of the enemy. Rivers is killed by a bullet through the head, Diamond is wounded in his right arm, and Schmid is blinded by a Japanese soldier dropping a hand grenade at the front of the gun pit.
The third part is Schmid's humbling rehabilitation, in which he resents being dependent upon others. He hopes that an operation will restore his sight, but the medical procedure isn't successful. He doesn't want Ruth to know that he is almost completely blind, so he attempts to break up with her. Schmid is aided in his recovery by Diamond, hospital rehabilitation officer Virginia Pfeiffer, and the other wounded veterans.
Scmid is to be awarded the Navy Cross but is dismayed that the ceremony will take place in his home town and that he will be permanently transferred to the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. He is angry and afraid of being forced to confront his fiancée; he believes she will pity him. He insists that he will get his sight back someday and until then will not be dependent upon family and friends. Ruth comes to the station and begs Diamond to help her deceive him into coming home before going to the hospital. Diamond tells Schmid he has a Navy car with a WAVE driver. Going up the steps to the house, he realizes he is home. Unable to escape Christmas with his family, he eventually listens to what Ruth has to say. During the award ceremony, he re-lives the events on Guadalcanal. As they leave the Navy Yard, he tells Ruth to get the cab with the red top on it – "it's fuzzy, but it's red." Al warns her that there is no guarantee he will see well again. "Whichever way it is, we'll do it together," she replies. Al tells the cabbie to take them home.
- John Garfield as Al Schmid
- Eleanor Parker as Ruth Hartley
- Dane Clark as Lee Diamond
- John Ridgely as Jim Merchant
- Rosemary DeCamp as Virginia Pfeiffer
- Ann Doran as Ella May Merchant
- Ann E. Todd as Loretta Merchant
- Anthony Caruso as Johnny Rivers
During the Battle of Guadalcanal, two enlisted Marines, Mitchell Paige and John Basilone were awarded the Medal of Honor for their use of the M1917 Browning machine gun against massed Japanese charges. In Jim Proser's book I'm Staying With My Boys: The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone USMC Proser tells of Basilone's friendship with John Garfield and Eddie Bracken when they toured the United States selling war bonds.
Screenwriters A. I. Bezzerides and Alvah Bessie developed a 26-page treatment of Roger Butterfield's book Al Schmid Marine. Martin Borowsky also did an adaptation of Butterfield's book that was rewritten by Albert Maltz, to whom Garfield had spoken about Butterfield's story. Prior to filming, Garfield visited American soldiers in hospitals in Italy.:71
Garfield met Schmid during his rehabilitation, before a movie was ever planned. Once the film was planned, Garfield lived with the Schmids for several weeks, becoming friends with the couple.:72
Bessie and Maltz were later blacklisted over their "un-American" political opinions, as two of the Hollywood Ten.
Film locations include the 6500 block of Tulip Street in Philadelphia.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "a splendid documentation of a dramatic crisis in a hero's life," with performances that were "all unqualifiedly excellent ... To say that this picture is entertaining to a truly surprising degree is an inadequate recommendation. It is inspiring and eloquent of a quality of human courage that millions must try to generate today." Variety called it "a two-hour celluloid saga which should inspire much pride for many. As an entertainment film with a forceful theme, so punchy that its 'message' aspects are negligible, it is a credit to all concerned ... gives a vividly histrionic performance that will not be easily forgotten." Harrison's Reports called the film "sensitive and at times forceful" and called Garfield "very good," but found the discourses by hospitalized servicemen "so long drawn out that they interrupt the flow of the story." Wolcott Gibbs of The New Yorker wrote: "In spite of the fact that most of this has a somewhat familiar and mechanical air, the picture has its effective moments, mostly owing to Mr. Garfield's honest and very intelligent performance."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
According to Warner Bros records the film earned $2,295,000 domestically and $724,000 foreign.
Pride of the Marines was adapted as a radio play on the January 31, 1945 episode of Lux Radio Theater and the June 15, 1946 episode of Academy Award Theater, both with John Garfield reprising his role.
As a bonus feature in the Lux Radio Theater version, Al Schmid is introduced by phone and speaks with Garfield.