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 favorable 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 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]

Title Director Notable cast Summary Released Notes
6th Marine Division on Okinawa United States Marine Corps The film details the actions of the 6th Marine Division during the Battle of Okinawa, released shortly after the event. 1945
All the Young Men Hall Bartlett Sidney Poitier, Alan Ladd The 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 Cry Raoul Walsh Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore, Nancy Olson Based 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 for Haditha Nick Broomfield The film is based on the Haditha killings in November 2005, where Marines killed 24 individuals, at least 15 of which were non-combatants. 2008
Battle: Los Angeles Jonathan Liebesman Aaron Eckhart, Ramón Rodríguez The 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
Born on the Fourth of July Oliver Stone Tom Cruise Film 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. 1989 Awards: 2 Oscars, 4 Golden Globes, 5 other major awards
The Boys in Company C Sidney J. Furie Stan Shaw, Andrew Stevens, R. Lee Ermey This 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
Brothers Jim Sheridan Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman Captain 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 an enormous void in the family. Despite a dark history, Sam's charismatic younger brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) steps in to fill the family void. 2009 Awards: 2 Golden Globe Nominations
The D.I. Jack Webb Jack Webb, Don Dubbins Based 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
Death Before Dishonor Terry Leonard Fred Dryer Gunnery 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 Brunley This 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
A Few Good Men Rob Reiner Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon Based 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. 1992 Awards: 4 Oscars, 5 Golden Globes
Flags of Our Fathers Clint Eastwood Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach Based 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 Leathernecks Nicholas Ray John Wayne, Robert Ryan In 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. 1951 Kirby is based on Medal of Honor recipient and ace John Lucian Smith.
Full Metal Jacket Stanley Kubrick Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio Based 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. 1987 Awards: 5 total
Generation Kill Susanna White & Simon Cellan Jones Alexander Skarsgård, Lee Tergesen This 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. 2008 Few fictional liberties have been taken, however, some of the Marines depicted have disputed the accuracy of their portrayal.
The Great Santini Lewis John Carlino Robert Duvall Based 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
Guadalcanal Diary Lewis Seiler Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan The 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 Enright Randolph Scott The 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 Montezuma Lewis Milestone Richard Widmark The 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 Ridge Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood This film follows GySgt Tom Highway, a Medal of Honor recipient who is nearing retirement as he 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
Heaven Knows Mr. Allison John Huston Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr A marine and a nun form an unlikely friendship. The marine is shipwrecked on a Pacific island and the nun has been left behind there; the two find comfort in one another as they wait out the war. 1957 Nominated for 2 Oscars
Here Come the Marines William Beaudine Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Hanley Stafford In 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
Jarhead Sam Mendes Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx Based 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. 2005 Gyllenhaal received an award for his role in this and two other films.
Major Payne Nick Castle Damon Wayans This 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
The Marines Are Coming David Howard William Haines, Conrad Nagel, Esther Ralston A brash marine is assigned to a new post which is now under the command of his former rival. The marine falls in love with his commanding officer's fiancée and romances her away from him. The day before their wedding, the fiancée calls it off after the marine is involved with an incident in Tijuana. The fiancée leaves for Central America to join her father, who is a diplomat, and the disgraced marine quits but re-enlists as a private. Assigned to a post in Central America, the marine discovers he must rescue his rival, who has been captured by the rebels plotting to overthrow the territorial governor, her former fiancée's father. 1934
The Marines Fly High George Nicholls, Jr.
Ben Stoloff
Richard Dix, Chester Morris, Lucille Ball In 1939, the Central American cocoa plantation owned by American Joan Grant (Lucille Ball) needs protection from bandits led by El Vengador (John Eldredge). She asks the Marines stationed nearby under the command of Colonel Hill (Paul Harvey) for help. Lieutenants Danny Darrick (Richard Dix) and Jim Malone (Chester Morris) fly a mission to seek out the outlaws. Although they have orders to protect her, both men vie for Joan's affection. 1940
Marines, Let's Go Raoul Walsh Tom Tryon, David Hedison This slapstick follows a group of Marines on shore leave in Japan, which subsequently get cancelled due to the outbreak of the Korean War. 1961
The Outsider Delbert Mann Tony Curtis Follows 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 Pacific multiple Joseph Mazzello, Jon Seda, James Badge Dale, William Sadler In 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
Pride of the Marines Delmer Daves John Garfield, Eleanor Parker This 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. Lewis Frank Lovejoy, Richard Carlson, Peter J. Ortiz Detailing the 1st Marine Division in the Korean War, this film ranges from the landings at Inchon to the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Warner Bros. proposed the film during the latter battle. 1952
Rules of Engagement William Friedkin Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson This 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. 2000 The lead writer, Jim Webb, is a noted author, former Secretary of the Navy, and former United States Senator from Virginia.
Salute to the Marines S. Sylvan Simon Wallace Beery Retired 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 Jima Allan Dwan John Wayne, John Agar, many notable Marines This 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 son after his death. 1949 The 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".
Second in Command Simon Fellows Jean Claude van Damme 15 Marines and a SEAL commander fend off an insurgent terror attack on the US Embassy in the fictional nation of Moldavia, using ruses and strategic maneuvering. 2006
Severe Clear Kristian Fraga As 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
The Siege of Firebase Gloria Brian Trenchard-Smith Wings Hauser, R. Lee Ermey A 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. 1989 Trenchard-Smith has stated that though uncredited, Ermey actually wrote the film.
Taking Chance Ross Katz Kevin Bacon Based on the true story written by Lt Col 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
Tarawa Beachhead Paul Wendkos Kerwin Mathews, Julie Adams, Ray Danton Sgt. Tom Sloan sees his Lieutenant Joel Brady kill one of their own Marines, Johnny Campbell on Guadalcanal after Brady led a disastrous suicidal attack against Japanese entrenched in caves. As the only survivors of the debacle, Sloan doesn't turn Brady in as he assumes no one will believe his word against an officer's. With Brady's recommendation, Sloan is later commissioned and assigned as an aide to a general (Onslow Stevens) back in the 2nd Marine Division headquarters in New Zealand.

The film contains extensive amounts of actual footage of the Battle of Tarawa

1958 The Marine Corps refused to cooperate due to theme of officer killing his own men and sergeant bent on revenge.
Tell It to the Marines George Hill Lon Chaney, Sr., William Haines This 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 Chinese bandits, and after becoming friends, Skeet discharges and awaits his lover to return home. 1926 Filmed at Camp Pendleton, this was the first of many films shot with the Corp's cooperation.
To the Shores of Hell Will Zens Marshall Thompson, Richard Arlen, Robert Dornan In 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 Jima United States Marine Corps Following 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
Tribes Joseph Sargent Darren McGavin, Earl Holliman, Jan-Michael Vincent This 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. 1970 Awards: 3 Primetime Emmy Awards

Known as The Soldier Who Declared Peace in Europe.

Wake Island John Farrow Brian 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? Raoul Walsh Edmund Lowe, Victor McLaglen, Dolores del Río Both 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. 1926 Sequels 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? John Ford James Cagney, Dan Dailey 1952
When Eagles Strike Cirio H. Santiago Christian Boeving, Stacy Keach Some American commandos get a mission to save American politicians who were kidnapped and are held on a forgotten Malaysian island. Tough-guy lieutenant Andrew Peers commands the action. During the mission it's revealed there's a traitor in the team. Consequently, American soldiers are betrayed and captured by the opponents, who then interrogate and brutally torture team's lead Andrew. 2003
Windtalkers John Woo Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Christian Slater Due to his heroism at the Guadalcanal Campaign, 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
A Yank in Viet-Nam Marshall Thompson Marshall Thompson, Enrique Magalona, Mario Barri, Kieu Chinh A U.S. Marine Corps pilot is shot down over the Vietnamese jungle. During his trek to American lines, he meets a female guerrilla fighter and a nationalist named Hong. 1964 Filmed in Vietnam

Beachhead - Color 1954 Tony Curtis Lovejoy Four Marines must get message from Bouchard to commanders to prevent Marine casualties on upcoming invasion of Bougainville Island.

See also[edit]