This contains all the WWII war movie cliches rolled into one. John Wayne fans won’t want to miss it though.
Sgt. John M. Stryker (Wayne) has a tough job on his hands. His duty is to train a group of raw recruits and then lead them into battle. His no-nonsense approach to this task has given him a reputation as a hard taskmaster.
Two of the men in his squad pose particular problems. PFC Mike Thomas (Forrest Tucker) has a grudge against Stryker who had him reduced in rank previously. PFC Peter Conway (John Agar) is the son of a commander, now dead, whom Stryker greatly admired. Conway, an intellectual, believes he was major disappointment to his father and that Stryker will automatically share his father’s opinion. He has a gigantic chip on his shoulder.
Stryker is struggling with his own demons. His divorce from his wife and separation from his beloved son leads him to get rip-roaring drunk whenever the occasion presents itself. But really he’s a good guy, whose sometimes harsh methods are designed merely to keep his men alive when they are tested in battle.
The Marines are see combat first on Tarawa and finally at Iwo Jima. With Martin Milner and Richard Jaeckel as members of the platoon.
This film is filled with the same bantering and valor in battle as we have seen in countless other pictures from the period. There are few surprises. Wayne is very good though and probably that will be enough for his fans. By now I consider myself one, while still having no use for his politics.
Sands of Iwo Jima was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Actor (Wayne); Best Writing, Motion Picture Story; Best Sound, Recording, and Best Film Editing.