Sgt John M. Stryker is a battle hardened Marine who's job it is to prepare his new charges for the realities of war. With no care for making friends, Stryker does what ever it takes to make these men tough and ready for the Pacific conflicts to come.
Sands Of Iwo Jima is unashamedly proud in its jingoistic fervour, and rightly so. Iwo Jima, and the now immortal portrait of weary American soldiers hoisting the flag atop Mt. Suribachi, has become a bastion of bravery, a beacon of triumph if you will. So it's no surprise to find Allan Dwan's film has no intention if deviating from boasting its colours, and hooray to that. Here as Stryker we find John Wayne giving a bit more to his character portrayal than merely some beefcake winning the war. Wayne puts depth and sincerity into Stryker, an air of believability shines through as he shows vulnerability, we believe he can win this war with his men, but we also see tenderness and it lifts Sands higher than your average war picture.
Wise old director Dwan (432 directing credits to his name), weaves the picture together with admirable restraint. Fusing actual newsreel footage with his own tightly handled action sequences, Sands plays out as the tribute and rally call that it has every right to be, even finding place in the film for three of the soldiers who hoisted that now famous flag. Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon and John Bradley are the three gentlemen to look out for. The rest of the cast don't really have to do much outside of respond to Wayne's two fold performance, but keep an eye out for a fresh faced Richard Jaeckel as Pfc. Frank Flynn, while I personally enjoyed the brief, but important contribution from Julie Bishop as Mary.
Wayne received a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards (too bad for him that 49 contained brilliant shows from the winner Broderick Crawford & a blunderbuss turn from Gregory Peck), with other nominations going to the Best Story, Editing and Sound categories. Ironically it was a role Wayne didn't fancy doing, but some encouragements from war veterans humbled him into starring.
Lock and load and saddle up for a top entry in the WWII pantheon. 8/10
Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid. (IMDB: 7)
On: 4/30/2009 12:00:00 AM By: Spikeopath