Pride of the Marines released
A little more than a week after the Japanese surrendered in World War II, Delmer Daves’ powerful war drama Pride of the Marines rolled into theaters. Based on Roger Butterfield’s book Al Schmid, Marine, the movie Pride of the Marines tells real-life tale of Sgt. Schmid, who was awarded the Navy Cross for holding back over 200 Japanese in Guadalcanal and losing his eyesight in the bargain. But rather than simply being a gung-ho yarn of patriotic gore, Pride tells a more personal tale about a young man (played by John Garfield) with plans to marry being carried off to war. In the film, the courage he summons up to defend his machine gun nest against the encroaching Japanese army pales in comparison with the ordeal he faces back home, trying to reconnect to his old life, and especially with his fiancée (played by Eleanor Parker). In some ways, the film’s working title, This Love of Ours, more accurately captured the film’s pathos than the jingoistic cry of Pride of the Marines. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther recognized the bravery that would be needed by disabled service men returning home when he wrote: “To say that this picture is entertaining to a truly surprising degree is an inadequate recommendation. It is inspiring and eloquent of a quality of human courage that millions must try to generate today.” The power of the story was recognized the next year when writer Albert Maltz was nominated for “Best Writing, Screenplay” at the Academy Awards. Yet despite such accolades, two years later Maltz was called up by the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist tendencies, and lines from his Pride of the Marines script were read to the committee as proof of communist propaganda. Maltz become part of the famed Hollywood Ten and was subsequently blacklisted.