List of films featuring the United States Marine Corps

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This is a list of films featuring the United States Marine Corps.

History of Marines in film[edit]

Beginning with The Star Spangled Banner (1918), the Marines discovered the use of motion pictures. In exchange for a favourable portrayal that stimulated recruiting and gave an impressive view to the public and Congress, the Marines provided uniformed extras, locations, equipment, and technical advisers that provided their expertise to the producers. In 1926 MGM's Tell It to the Marines and Fox's What Price Glory? directed by Raoul Walsh nearly led to a court battle to see whether one studio could copyright the Marines to prevent other films from being made. Allan Dwan's Sands of Iwo Jima, starring John Wayne, is frequently cited as one of the most influential Marine films. Over the years, Camp Pendleton was dressed up to represent Central American nations, China, Pacific islands, New Zealand, and Joseph H. Lewis's Retreat, Hell! had the base covered in studio snow with their hills and roads painted white. Camp Pendleton later doubled as Vietnam in Marshall Thompson's To the Shores of Hell. When filming Battle Cry (film) at the base in 1954, Raoul Walsh's Marine technical adviser said that he had joined the Corps after seeing What Price Glory?. United States Marine Corps Recruit Training was also depicted in Jack Webb's The D.I. and Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket that led to more enlistments to the Corps. Most recently, the Gulf and Iraq wars have become the subject of controversial films such as Jarhead and Generation Kill.

List of films[edit]

TitleDirectorNotable castSummaryReleasedNotes
6th Marine Division on OkinawaUnited States Marine CorpsThe film details the actions of the 6th Marine Division during the Battle of Okinawa, released shortly after the event.1945
A Few Good MenRob ReinerTom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin BaconBased on the play of the same name by Aaron Sorkin, this film follows the efforts of Navy lawyer LTJG Kaffee as he defends two young Marines undergoing court-martial for the murder of a third Marine. Ultimately, he uncovers a conspiracy to cover up the death and proves that his clients were scapegoats for some high-ranking officers.1992Awards: 4 Oscars, 5 Golden Globes
All the Young MenHall BartlettSidney Poitier, Alan LaddThe film depicts a fictional unit of Korean War Marines in 1951 and explores the recent racial integration of the Marine Corps. Sgt Towler, an African American, struggles to assert his authority over the platoon, who express their preference for the Caucasian Sgt. Kincaid.1960
Battle CryRaoul WalshVan Heflin, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore, Nancy OlsonBased on the novel by Leon Uris, the film follows a group of Marines that join the 6th Marine Regiment during World War II. The communications company comes together to fight in the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan.1955
Battle: Los AngelesJonathan LiebesmanAaron Eckhart, Ramón RodríguezThe film follows a platoon of Marines from 2nd Battalion 5th Marines, defending against an alien invasion in Los Angeles, and eventually crack the secret to destroying command centers worldwide.2011
Battle for HadithaNick BroomfieldThe film is based on the Haditha killings in November 2005, where Marines killed 24 individuals, at least 15 of which were non-combatants.2008
Born on the Fourth of JulyOliver StoneTom CruiseFilm adaptation of the autobiography of Ron Kovic, dealing with his service in the Vietnam War, in particular his post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of the betrayal of Vietnam veterans by the American government. Disabled shortly after friendly fire kills a young Marine, Kovic endures neglect at a VA hospital and becomes disillusioned. Being disgusted with the government, he joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War and protests at the 1972 Republican National Convention.1989Awards: 2 Oscars, 4 Golden Globes, 5 other major awards
Brothers (2009 film)Jim SheridanTobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie PortmanCaptain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is embarking on his fourth tour of duty, leaving behind his beloved wife (Natalie Portman) and two daughters. When Sam's Blackhawk helicopter is shot down in the mountains of Afghanistan, the worst is presumed, leaving and enormous void in the family. Despite a dark history, Sam's charismatic younger brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) steps in to fill the family void.2009Awards: 2 Golden Globe Nominations
Death Before DishonorTerry LeonardFred DryerGunnery Sergeant Burns is the head of the Marine Security Guard detachment of an American embassy in the Middle East when it is captured by terrorists. He mounts a one-man operation to defeat the terrorists and free their hostages.1987
Ears, Open. Eyeballs, Click.Canaan BrunleyThis fly on the wall documentary shows the experiences of Marine recruits during United States Marine Corps Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California.2005
Flags of Our FathersClint EastwoodRyan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam BeachBased on the book by James Bradley and Ron Powers, the film follows Marines depicted in the photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima who survived the battle of Iwo Jima, and their subsequent lives. The actual battle is depicted in medias res through flashbacks. The complementary film Letters from Iwo Jima depicted the battle from the Japanese point of view.2006
Flying LeathernecksNicholas RayJohn Wayne, Robert RyanIn this film, Major Kirby takes command of the fictional Marine fighter squadron VMF-247, part of the Cactus Air Force at the Guadalcanal Campaign. Butting heads with Captain Griffin, Kirby suffers emotionally with his decisions to place the mission above the lives of his men. After helping to win the battle with his low-level attack tactics, he leads the squadron to the Battle of Okinawa, and after witnessing Griffin place the mission over the life of his brother-in-law, willingly relinquishes command.1951Kirby is based on Medal of Honor recipient and ace John Lucian Smith.
Full Metal JacketStanley KubrickMatthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'OnofrioBased on the semi-autobiographical novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford, this film portrays recruit training and the Vietnam War from the point of view of James "Joker" Davis. At boot camp, GySgt Hartman proves to be a vicious drill instructor, and after becoming frustrated by misfit Leonard "Pyle" Lawrence, assigns Joker to bring him up to par. On the night of graduation, Pyle murders his drill instructor and commits suicide. Later, in Vietnam, Joker is a combat correspondent covering the Tet Offensive and Battle of Huế, ultimately killing a wounded sniper to prove himself.1987Awards: 5 total
Generation KillSusanna White & Simon Cellan JonesAlexander Skarsgård, Lee TergesenThis HBO miniseries, based on the book written by Evan Wright, details the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Focusing on the Marines of Second Platoon, Bravo Company, they suffer from boredom, frustration, and ultimately perform missions unlike those they trained for. As they battle from Kuwait to Baghdad, they deal with the usual confusion and chaos of war, exacerbated by their senior officers' often surreal behavior.2008Few fictional liberties have been taken, however, some of the Marines depicted have disputed the accuracy of their portrayal.
Guadalcanal DiaryLewis SeilerPreston Foster, Lloyd NolanThe film, based on the book of the same name by Richard Tregaskis, recounts the United States Marines in the Battle of Guadalcanal, only a year before the movie's release.1943
Gung Ho!Ray EnrightRandolph ScottThe story is loosely based on the Makin Island raid in 1942. Led by LtCol Thorwald (based on Evans Carlson), the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion gathers volunteers for a mission to divert Japanese attention from the landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Launching from the submarines USS Nautilus and Argonaut, they land on Makin and destroy the Japanese garrison.1943
Halls of MontezumaLewis MilestoneRichard WidmarkThe film follows Lt Anderson and his Marines from the beach of an unidentified island to a Japanese rocket site through enemy-infested jungles. Anderson, an ex-school teacher, struggles with the responsibilities he holds, but ultimately overcomes and leads his remaining men to victory.1951
Heartbreak RidgeClint EastwoodClint EastwoodThis film follows GySgt Tom Highway, a Medal of Honor recipient who is nearing retirement as returns to an infantry unit. He's placed in charge of the unruly and undertrained reconnaissance platoon. He unifies and trains his men despite the disapproval of his unit commander, who dislikes the "dinosaur" Highway and deliberately neglects the recon platoon, and leads them during the 1983 Invasion of Grenada. Highway also attempt to reconnect with his ex-wife Aggie, who bitterly resents their failed marriage, and is ultimately successful.1986
Here Come the MarinesWilliam BeaudineLeo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Hanley StaffordIn this slapstick comedy, The Bowery Boys get drafted. On the first day of training, Sach becomes a sergeant due to a family connection. While on the drill field, they discover the body of a dead Marine, and trace the murder back to a local gambling ring. They engage in some humorous fisticuffs, and break up the illicit gang.1952
JarheadSam MendesJake Gyllenhaal, Jamie FoxxBased on the memoir by Anthony Swofford, this film depicts his experiences as a Marine Scout Sniper during the Gulf War. Goaded by SSgt Sykes into becoming a sniper, Swofford develops an obsession with the concept of the perfect shot. As the unit deploys to Saudi Arabia, they become frustrated with boredom, monotony, anxiety, and act out; one incident involving moonshine and a fire gets Swofford demoted. As the war finally starts, an artillery bombardment, friendly fire incident, and walk past the Highway of Death unsettle the Marines. Swofford and his spotter finally receive a sniper mission, but are denied permission to fire at the last moment. When they return to their unit, they find the war is over, having never fired a shot.2005Gyllenhaal received an award for his role in this and two other films.
Major PayneNick CastleDamon WayansThis comedy follows the life of Maj Payne, a recently discharged Marine, who decides to take charge of a disorderly high school cadet corps in an attempt to regain active Marine status. He clashes with a school counselor who attempts to soften his harsh disciplinary ways. Initially unpopular, Payne inspires the young troops to win the Virginia Military Games by turning down an opportunity to return to the Corps in favor of staying with the group.1995
Marines, Let's GoRaoul WalshTom Tryon, David HedisonThis slapstick follows a group of Marines on shore leave in Japan, which subsequently get cancelled due to the outbreak of the Korean War.1961
Pride of the MarinesDelmer DavesJohn Garfield, Eleanor ParkerThis biographical film tells the story of Al Schmid's heroic stand against a Japanese attack during the Battle of Guadalcanal, in which he was blinded by a grenade, and his subsequent rehabilitation.1945
Retreat, Hell!Joseph H. LewisFrank Lovejoy, Richard Carlson, Peter J. OrtizDetailing the 1st Marine Division in the Korean War, this film ranges from the kandings at Inchon to the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Warner Bros. proposed the film during the latter battle.1952
Rules of EngagementWilliam FriedkinTommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. JacksonThis legal drama depicts the court-martial of Colonel Terry Childers and his defense attorney, Colonel Hays Hodges. After defending the American embassy in Yemen in which 83 civilians are killed, the court martial hinges on if Childers broke the eponymous rules of engagement. After proving that the National Security Advisor destroyed evidence, as well as recanting an incident in the Vietnam War where Childers executed a man to save Hodges, Childers is found not guilty.2000The lead writer, Jim Webb, is a noted author, former Secretary of the Navy, and United States Senator from Virginia.
Salute to the MarinesS. Sylvan SimonWallace BeeryRetired SgtMaj William Bailey leads a heroic defense when the Japanese attack the Philippines, first by strangling a Nazi agent and then dies in his dress uniform while destroying a bridge.1943
Sands of Iwo JimaAllan DwanJohn Wayne, John Agar, many notable MarinesThis epic film depicts Sgt John Stryker and Pvt Peter Conway through the Battles of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. Initially disliking their squad leader, the Marines gradually grow to respect him, eventually finding an emotional letter written to his men after his death.1949The first recorded use of the phrase "lock and load". President Harry S. Truman referred to this film when saying that the Corps had a "propaganda machine bigger than Joseph Stalin's".
Severe ClearKristian FragaAs part of the first wave in the War on Terror, First Lieutenant Mike Scotti served on the front lines during the 21 day advance to Baghdad. His experiences in Afghanistan as well as Iraq put him face to face with the sobering realities of war on a daily basis. This documentary offers an unflinching look at life on the battlefield through the eyes of someone who was there.2009
Taking ChanceRoss KatzKevin BaconBased on the true story written by LtCol Michael Strobl, the film depicts the aftermath of PFC Chance Phelps's death in the Iraq War. Frustrated at having been kept out of the fighting, Strobl volunteers to escort Phelp's remains from Dover Air Force Base to his parents in Dubois, Wyoming.2009
Tell It to the MarinesGeorge W. HillLon Chaney, Sr., William HainesThis silent film depicts Sergeant O'Hara's difficulty in training recruits, particularly "Skeets" Burns, who develops a relationship with nurse Norma Dale, whom O'Hara is secretly attracted to. After an indiscretion in the Philippines turns her against him and causes friction between the two Marines, the nurse is ordered to Hangchow and becomes a hostage. The Marines battle with Chines bandits, and after becoming friends, Skeet discharges and awaits his lover to return home.1926Filmed at Camp Pendleton, this was the first of many films shot with the Corp's cooperation.
The Boys in Company CSidney J. FurieStan Shaw, Andrew Stevens, R. Lee ErmeyThis film follows five Marines from boot camp to a tour of duty in the Vietnam War in 1968. Disheartened by futile combat, corruption, and incompetence, the five seek a way out. They are told that if they can defeat a rival soccer team, they can spend the rest of their tour playing exhibition games behind the lines.1978
The D.I.Jack WebbJack Webb, Don DubbinsBased on the teleplay The Murder of a Sand Flea, Sgt Jim Moore attempts to train the troublesome Pvt Owens. Driven to frustration, Capt Anderson gives Moore three days to turn Owens into a satisfactory recruit.1957
The Great SantiniLewis John CarlinoRobert DuvallBased on the novel of the same name, Marine fighter pilot LtCol Wilbur Meechum juggles success as an aviator with his failures as a father and husband. His son Ben's struggle to win his father's acceptance mirrors the author Pat Conroy's relationship with his father, Donald.1979
The OutsiderDelbert MannTony CurtisFollows the story of Ira Hayes, who fights in World War II and helps to raise the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima.1961
The PacificmultipleJoseph Mazzello, Jon Seda, James Badge Dale, William SadlerIn a manner similar to its sister production Band of Brothers, the miniseries follows Marines in the Pacific Theater of Operations. It is primarily based upon the stories of John Basilone, Eugene Sledge (With the Old Breed), and Robert Leckie (Helmet for My Pillow).2010
The Siege of Firebase GloriaBrian Trenchard-SmithWings Hauser, R. Lee ErmeyA patrol of Marines visits Firebase Gloria at the beginning of the Tet Offensive, and is trapped by a Viet Cong siege. After successfully defending the base, the Marines are subsequently forced to abandon it, having lost too many men during the battle. The VC commander then learns that his orders were not to win, but to die with his unit and allow the North Vietnamese Army to take over the Vietnam War.1989Trenchard-Smith has stated that though uncredited, Ermey actually wrote the film.
To the Shores of HellWill ZensMarshall Thompson, Richard Arlen, Robert DornanIn this film, Major Donahue travels through Vietnam during the war to rescue his physician brother Gary, a prisoner of the Viet Cong. The film features footage of an amphibious exercise at Camp Pendleton.1966
To the Shores of Iwo JimaUnited States Marine CorpsFollowing Marines and sailors through the Battle of Iwo Jima in rough chronological order, this film details aspects from the bombardment of the island by warships and carrier-based airplanes to the final breakdown of resistance. The film also features the video of the second flag raising shot by Sgt Bill Genaust.1945
TribesJoseph SargentDarren McGavin, Earl Holliman, Jan-Michael VincentThis television film follows a group of Vietnam War recruits and their drill instructors. Among the new recruits is Adrian, a pacifist hippie and reluctant draftee. Though he conflicts with GySgt Drake, he earns his drill instructors respect as a natural leader and find common ground in Drake's hobby of drawing. Drake's superior, MSgt DePayster, fails Adrian for attitude issues, despite his capabilities and Drake's objections. Drake accuses him of going behind his back to fuel a personal vendetta, and defiantly posts one of his drawings. The night after being denied graduation, Adrian deserts from his disciplinary platoon.1970Awards: 3 Primetime Emmy Awards

Known as The Soldier Who Declared Peace in Europe.

Wake IslandJohn FarrowBrian Donlevy, Macdonald Carey,This film details the Battle of Wake Island, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Erroneously, the Americans are depicted as refusing to surrender, as well as the fictional death of Winfield S. Cunningham, the commander.1942
What Price Glory? (1926 film)Raoul WalshEdmund Lowe, Victor McLaglen, Dolores del RíoBoth films share a plot with the 1924 play of the same name by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings. Capt Flagg and 1stSgt Quirt lead a company of Marines in France during World War I, but their long-standing rivalry continues as they vie for the romantic attentions of Charmaine, a local innkeeper's daughter.1926Sequels include The Cock-Eyed World, Women of All Nations, Hot Pepper, and Call Out the Marines, and cameo in The Stolen Jools.
What Price Glory? (1952 film)John FordJames Cagney, Dan Dailey1952
WindtalkersJohn WooNicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Christian SlaterDue to his heroism at the Battle of Guadalcanal, Sgt Joe Enders hides a hearing problem to get an assignment protecting Navajo code talker Ben Yazzie. During the Battle of Saipan, Yazzie is unnerved and disgusted with the violence, but uses his code to call for naval gunfire. Enders later kills Charlie Whitehorse, another code talker, to prevent his capture, earning Yazzie's fury. Later, Yazzie fearlessly fights, but begs Enders to kill him when capture seems imminent. Enders refuses, and sacrifices himself to save the code talker.2002

See also[edit]