Flying Leathernecks

Synopsis: Major Daniel Kirby takes command of a squadron of Marine fliers just before they are about to go into combat. While the men are well meaning, he finds them undisciplined and prone to always finding excuses to do what is easy rather than what is necessary. The root of the problem is the second in command, Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin. Griff is the best flier in the group but Kirby finds him a poor commander who is not prepared to the difficult decision that all commanders have to make - to put men in harm's way knowing that they may be killed.
Genre: Action, Drama, War
Director(s): Nicholas Ray
Production: VidAmerica
Rotten Tomatoes:
102 min

Our story begins in the midsummer

of 1942 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Here the gentle surf

which rolled on Waikiki...

... occasionally drowned out

the roar of planes overhead.

Constant reminders of the task

to be done.

The Japanese had conquered

the island chain to Guadalcanal...

... and we had to start

the long climb back...

... despite the initial lack

of men and materiel.

This is the story of a group

of young American men...

... who comprised the

Marine Fighter Squadron...

... VMF 247.

Men representing and represented by

the American flag...

... which flew at the base

of a sleeping volcano.

Unmistakable evidence that our country...

... then, as always,

would fight against aggression...

... and all the aggressors

that challenged the rights of free men.

Here it is, Mac. Come and get it.

Come on, fellas. Let's celebrate.

Come on and get your beer.

Save one of those for me!

- Hey, beer!

- I'll always take a beer.

- Here he is!

- Come on, give me a beer.

Captain Griffin.

Being that I'm the smartest,

I was selected to make a speech...

...of congratulation.

- Attention!

Gentlemen, Major Kirby,

your new squadron commander.

This isn't usual, major.

May I speak, sir?

Go ahead.

Well, this is a joke, sir.

We thought when Major Hardy

was injured that Griff...

I mean, Captain Griffin

would be in command.

I mean, with the urgency

and all and us on alert...

...well, we arranged this, or I arranged it,

as sort of a rib, sir, to congratulate him...

...if you see what I mean.

I see.

Well, relax, men.

And you can hang on to that beer.

It's scarce enough in the islands.

I know we'll see no more beer

in the ready room...

...but this is an unusual occasion.

We'll forget it.

When the command meets the commander

for the first time, it's like a wedding.

Nobody knows how

it's gonna turn out.

Whether it'll be a happy

golden anniversary or a divorce.

We'll see.

What's this?

- On your way to a rodeo?

- No, sir. No.

It's just because I got high arches.

Almost all Texans got high arches.

Heredity. You know, like Eskimo babies,

they got thicker skin...

- But don't wear them when flying.

- My arches are as high in the air... on the ground.

- Not when flying.

- Yes, sir.

- Major.

This character takes some getting

used to. He's conversational.

But I put up with him for two reasons.

One, he's my brother-in-law.

The other reason is, this idiot is rich.

As soon as this ruckus is over,

I'm going to retire on his money.

I hope the major knows I was

just clowning about the boots.


Thank you.

This squadron has a warning order

to stand by.

I can tell you we will be receiving orders

to move out almost any minute.

Start getting your personal gear

and personal affairs up to date.

Well, anyway.

See? He didn't get the job.

Well, that's logical, since the minds working

under those brass hats work in reverse.

Fellas, I think we looked a little jerky when

our new CO got his first hinge at us.

I've heard about this guy. He's rugged.

He led close air-support training... North Island. He made them

come so close to the beach...

...they picked up seashells in oil coolers.

- You guys are wrong.

He's all right.

I know he's all right.

Here's the squadron roster and table

of organization. We're in good shape.


May I speak to the major, sir?

Go ahead.

I'd like to thank you, sir.

That letter sure helped my family.

I mean, it was written

in a way that...

Well, it helped us all, about my brother.

That's all I wanted to say.

- Your brother? What's your name?

- Malotke, sir.

My brother's name was Joe.

He served with you at Midway.

Oh, Big Joe Malotke. Good guy.

Sorry. If you're half as good

a man as your brother...

...l'll be proud to have you

in my command, lieutenant.

Thank you, sir.

Give me a rundown on each man,

job by job.

Captain Carl Griffin, executive officer.

And they call you Carl?


Captain Walter Tanner,

communications officer.

- Good man.

- Fine.

Captain Harold Jorgensen...

...operations officer.

- Major, may I speak frankly?

- Sure.

It's me you're worried about,

and naturally.

When they don't give

the squadron to the exec...'s because he hasn't

been recommended.

Naturally, the new CO

would be worried.

I like plain speaking.

- What was the beef?

- No beef.

I didn't think Major Hardy would

recommend me. We just didn't mesh.

You think he acted out

of personal dislike?

You know Hardy?

I don't think he ever acted

on an emotion of any kind.

I think it was his honest opinion

that I wasn't up to command.

I think he was wrong, but that's

just a case of different opinion.

Well, that's life in these Marines.

You want a combat command

and I want to sell the brass a pet theory.

- Close air support for ground troops.

- That's right.

Here we are, so let's get the job done.

The name's Dan.

- We'll make a squadron out of this.

- What else?

How can you call

this stuff personal effects?

Well, this concludes

my affairs in Honolulu.

- I'd like a copy of those conclusions.

- I bet you would.

What can you say in 10 words?

What did you say

your phone number was?

Come on!

Get the lead out of that pencil.

Ten words, Shakespeare.

Okay, Malotke, okay.

It's from Bert.

He just says he can't

write for some time.

Going away, I guess.

- I wonder if it's Midway, like Joe.

- No.

Midway, we got.

- Jorgy, I'll see you at the club.

- Okay, Bert.

Mrs. Jorgensen, it's from your husband.

The 10th word is "love."

Shall I leave it on the table for you?


- Okay, Billy.

- Thank you, my friend.

It's from that cute little Billy Castle.

I just love that boy.

Excuse me.

- Do you think we'll have time?

- Sure. We'll make the time, Charlie.

Okay, then.

Got word from your son, Charlie.

He says he can't write for quite a while.

But he knows that his

ma and pa will know that...

...he will act so that they can know there

will be no shame brought on his lodge...

...and to tell his sisters

to take good care of his horses...

...and to keep on with their schoolwork.

At this rate, I'll be here all night.

- Bedtime story.

- Bedtime story.

Your daddy sent you a bedtime story.

I'll read it to you.

Papa says he's on a big island.

But he's gonna fly away very soon...

...and then hurry back to us.

But in the meantime...

...he wants us not to do anything wrong...

...and to take care of each other.

As soon as he gets back,

we're going to live on the ranch.

- Can I have a pony?

- Of course.

All night, the coded messages said

"Urgent. Urgent. Urgent."

It seemed hard to believe that anything was

urgent on that beautiful Pacific dawn...

... when VMF 247 sailed

for Cactus Airfield...

... on the island of Guadalcanal.

What urgency there was.

The hard-pressed ground troops

were holding the airstrip...

... only by effort beyond maximum.

On the 16th day of August, the battle for

Guadalcanal was still very much in doubt.

Rate this script:4.0 / 1 vote

James Edward Grant

James Edward Grant (July 2, 1905 – February 19, 1966) was an American short story writer and screenwriter who contributed to more than fifty films between 1935 and 1971. He collaborated with John Wayne on twelve projects, starting with Angel and the Badman (which he also directed) in 1947 through Circus World in 1964. Support Your Local Gunfighter was released in 1971, five years after his death. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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