Sands of Iwo Jima
Directed by Allan Dwan
Story by Harry Brown; Screenplay by Brown and James Edward Grant
Starring John Wayne, John Agar, and Forrest Tucker
Release Date: November 11, 2014
When it comes to vintage war movies Sands of Iwo Jima is about as old-fashioned as they can get. It was one of the last memorable features made by the late Allan Dwan, a Canadian-born filmmaker who had began working in the motion picture industry during its pre-sound infancy, and it starred silver screen legend John Wayne in one of his most iconic leading roles. In the decades that followed Sands‘ theatrical release, war movies got meaner, bloodier, and introspective about what it means to kill for your country, so Dwan’s film can’t helped but be regarded today as an antique from a different era of cinema history.
However, that hardly means Sands of Iwo Jima doesn’t bring to the table many of its own virtues, the most important being that it’s highly entertaining and features the Duke stepping outside his movie star comfort zone to deliver an actual performance to rank with his turns in the classic westerns Red River and The Searchers. At this point in his career Wayne had been firmly established as a star of big screen westerns and war epics. During World War II he saw celluloid combat in The Fighting Seabees, Flying Tigers, Back to Bataan, and John Ford’s They Were Expendable. Wayne could always be counted on to provide a hearty stew of sensitivity and machismo and marshal the war effort with his effortless performances. Sands wasn’t his last combat film, but it was probably one of his best.
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