As was the fashion at the time, the film's screenplay comes up with some fictional characters to plug into the history, including a taxi driver from
Brooklyn (William Bendix), who roots for "dem bums", meaning the Brooklyn Dodgers, of course. He's part of a squad that includes a veteran sergeant, well-played by Lloyd Nolan, a green kid (Richard Jaeckal), and a Hispanic Marine played by a young Anthony Quinn. (The same sort of character shows up in BATTLEGROUND, played by Ricardo Montalban.) Preston Foster plays the chaplain who serves as the emotional center of the film, which starts on the troop carrier bringing the soldiers to the battle, follows on through the landing on Guadalcanal, and stays with the action until the Marines are relieved after securing the island several months later.
The movie glosses over somewhat the intensity of the fighting, although it does a good job of representing the danger from Japanese snipers, which was one of the main threats the Marines faced. There are several good battle scenes, though, and it does a fine job of portraying the heat and boredom, interspersed with desperate peril, of jungle fighting. Since the movie was made in 1943, when the outcome of the war was still in doubt, there's a little more patriotic drum-beating than you might find in films that came later, but I certainly don't mind that. It fits the era.
I thought this was an excellent film, and it brings to an end my string of World War II movie posts. I'm sure I'll be watching more of them in the future, but probably not for a while.