Sands of Iwo Jima B+
In Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), the movie that made him a bankable box-office star, John Wayne plays Sergeant John M. Stryker a man disliked by his soldiers because of his ruthless training and rigid code of ethics.
Stryker's major critic is a new recruit, Peter Conway (John Agar), who hates his rigid discipline. Indeed, Wayne trains his novices, ruthlessly bullying and whipping them into shape. The animosity between Stryker and Conway has other sources: Wayne had served under Conway's father, who had been killed in action in Guadalcanal.
Conway, however, does not share Wayne's respect for his father, because the latter used to poke fun at him for being “too soft.” In the film's climax, Conway tells Wayne how he will bring up his newly born son: “I won't insist he read the Marine Corps Manual. Instead, I'll get him a set of Shakespeare. In short, I don't want him to be a Sergeant John M. Stryker–I want him to be intelligent, considerate, cultured, and a gentleman.”
Later in the picture, however, Stryker saves Conway's like, when a live grenade falls at his feet while he dreamily reads a letter from his wife. But Conway gets the opportunity to save Wayne's life and even apologizes for getting “out of line.” In this movie too, Stryker's Wayne is the sensitive commander who does not let it show, believing in hard discipline.
After Stryker is shot by a sniper, an unfinished letter is found on his body in which he concedes of being a failure in many ways. At the end, however, Conway becomes the fighter Stryker and his father had always wanted him to be. Killing the Japanese sniper, Conway takes over the command and adopts Stryker's style of leadership.
Nearly 30 years after its release, Marine recruiters claim volunteers increase whenever Sands of Iwo Jima appears on TV. The movie was reportedly one of President John F. Kennedy's all-time favorite, which he used to watch frequently in times of crisis.
related article 1: John Wayne and Presidential Elections.
related article 2: John Wayne, the Vietnam War and Marlon Brando.
related article 3: John Wayne: From a Superstar to a Legend.
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