[box cover]

Guadalcanal Diary

During times of combat, war films tend to have an excessive patriotic sheen, so it's surprising that 1943's Guadalcanal Diary does not come off as a recruitment film. Make no mistake — there are lots of elements that are silly, dated, and meant to show how wholesomely American our soldiers are (you probably did not know that the Marines sang a lot during World War II), but after the fighting starts there are no acts of Hollywood heroism. Based on the book by Richard Tregaskis, director Lewis Seiler's war film covers the battle of Guadalcanal from the Marines' initial invasion to the Army reinforcement and eventual victory. Starring a cast of familiar supporting players (among them Anthony Quinn, Richard Jaekel, Lionel Stander, Richard Conte, and William Bendix), Guadalcanal does a good job of following the major events of the United States' first military campaign in the Pacific. Each character is granted screen-time and defining little characteristics: Bendix is the comic-relief Cpl. Aloyisus T. "Taxi" Potts from Flatbush, Jaeckel is Pvt. Johnny "Chicken" Anderson, who's too embarrassed to mention that he has yet to get a girlfriend, and Quinn is Pvt. Jesus "Soose" Alvarez, the hard-fighting Latino lover with at least three muchachas back home. As the Battle of Guadalcanal was the first offensive campaign in the Pacific, it was a bloody one; the film does not gloss over this (in the first combat mission all but one man dies), but the characters remain human throughout, keeping the action intense but never superficially exciting. (It should be noted that much of the war footage was taken from the actual war, so the second-unit stuff is pretty glaring. And politically correct viewers be warned: The word "Jap" is used over 100 times.) Fox's Guadalcanal Diary DVD presents the film in its original full-frame ratio (1.33:1), with audio in both stereo and mono 2.0 mixes. Trailers, keep-case.

Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page