AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Gung Ho!
Alternate Title: Gung Ho! The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders
Director: Ray Enright (Dir)
Release Date:   31 Dec 1943
Production Date:   9 Aug--late Oct 1943
Duration (in mins):   87-88
Duration (in feet):   7,878
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Cast:   Randolph Scott (Colonel Thorwald)  
    Alan Curtis (John Harbison)  
    Noah Beery Jr. (Kurt Richter)  
    J. Carrol Naish (Lt. C. J. Cristoforos)  
    Sam Levene (Transport, Leo Andreof)  
    David Bruce (Larry O'Ryan)  
    Richard Lane (Captain Dunphy)  
    Walter Sande (McBride)  
    Louis Jean Heydt (Lt. Roland Browning)  
    Robert Mitchum (Pig-Iron [Matthews])  
    Rod Cameron (Rube Tedrow)  
    Grace McDonald (Kathleen Corrigan)  
    Milburn Stone (Commander Blake)  
    Peter Coe (Kozzarowski)  
    Harold Landon (Frankie Montana)  
    Harry Strang (Sgt. Corrigan)  
    Robert Kent (Navigator Robinson)  
    John James (Buddy Andrews)  
    Joseph Haworth (Marine)  
    Carl Vernell (Marine)  
    Irving Bacon (Waiter)  
    Bernard Sell (Helmsman)  
    Prince Waln (Japanese soldier)  
    Dudley Dickerson (Mess boy)  
    Eddie Coke (Chief clerk)  
    Don McGill (Clerk)  
    J. Alex Havier (Filipino)  
    John Frazer (Signal officer)  
    Clarence Lung (Japanese officer)  
    Bruce Wong (Japanese pilot)  
    Bill Healy (Marine sergeant)  
    Nick Shaid (Old guard)  
    Liparit (Japanese dialogue)  

Summary: At Marine Headquarters in San Diego, a request is made for volunteers for a special battalion, one that will be trained for an overseas mission against the Japanese and calls for action "above and beyond the line of duty." The 15,000 prospective "raiders" include Southerner Rube Tedrow, minister John Harbison, troubled youth Frankie Montana, boxer "Pig-Iron" Matthews, and half-brothers Kurt Richter and Larry O'Ryan, who are rivals for the same girl. Meanwhile, the battalion's leader, Colonel Thorwald, tells his old friend, Leo "Transport" Andreof, that he had previously quit the Marines to join the Chinese army in their war against the Japanese. With the United States' entry into World War II, Thorwald returned to the Marines and plans to train his men in the same methods as those used by the Chinese. Upon his first meeting with the volunteers, Thorwald informs them that the battalion's motto will be the Chinese saying, "gung ho," which means to work in harmony, as teamwork will be required for their mission to be successful. The recruits are soon pared down to 900, and are put through vigorous physical training and taught various forms of self-defense, including judo. With their basic training completed, the remaining 600 Marines in the 2nd Raider Battalion ship out to Pearl Harbor in the South Pacific. Later, 210 of the men are sent on an eight-day submarine voyage to the Japanese-held South Sea island of Makin. As the submarines near the island, Thorwald tells his men that, though they will be severely outnumbered by the enemy, through careful planning, teamwork and surprise, they will be victorious. Their first contact with the Japanese happens after one of the submerging submarines is forced to resurface when the sleeping Rube is left topside just as three Japanese fighters appear on the horizon. They survive that encounter and soon arrive at Makin Island. The raiders land on the island at sunrise, and are quickly under fire from the Japanese. After Transport and Private Kozzarowksi are killed knocking out the Japanese radio transmitter, Thorwald has his men pull back and lure the Japanese soldiers to the hospital building. A squadron of Japanese planes then arrives at the hospital area, and, seeing the American flags the Marines have painted on the roofs of the buildings, attack and the majority of the Japanese soldiers are killed by their own aircraft. With the enemy defeated and the Japanese oil depot destroyed, Thorwald orders his men back to the submarines as Japanese ships approach. As the submarines head back to Pearl Harbor, Thorwald reminds his men of their thirty fellow Marines who died on the raid, including John and Larry, and how they have helped to pave the hard road to victory with their achievement at Makin Island. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Director: Ray Enright (Dir)
  Fred Frank (Asst dir)
  Howard Banks (Dial dir)
  Lynn Shores (2d unit dir)
Producer: Walter Wanger (Pres)
  Walter Wanger (Prod)
Writer: Lucien Hubbard (Scr)
  Joseph Hoffman (Addl dial)
  Kenneth Earl (Story)
  Lt. W. S. Le Francois U.S.M.C. (Based on the factual story "Gung Ho" by)
Photography: Milton Krasner (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: John B. Goodman (Art dir)
  Alexander Golitzen (Art dir)
Film Editor: Milton Carruth (Film ed)
  Saul Goodkind (Film ed)
Set Decoration: R. A. Gausman (Set dec)
  A. J. Gilmore (Set dec)
Music: Frank Skinner (Mus)
  H. J. Salter (Cond)
Sound: Bernard B. Brown (Dir of sd)
  William Hedgcock ([Sd] tech)
Production Misc: Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson U.S.M.C.R. (Tech adv)
  Lt. W. S. Le Francios U.S.M.C. (Tech adv)
  Gunnery Sgt. Victor Maghakian U.S.M.C. (Transport) (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., Inc. 31/12/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12423

PCA NO: 9775
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
Subjects (Major): Combat
  Military education
  Officers (Military)
  South Sea islands
  United States. Marine Corps
  World War II
Subjects (Minor): Birthdays
  Dinners and dining
  Half brothers
  Japan. Army
  Military bases
  Romantic rivalry
  Pearl Harbor (HI), Attack on, 1941
  San Diego (CA)
  Submarine boats

Note: The opening title card reads: Gung Ho! The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders . The film contains the following written foreword: "This is the factual record of the Second Marine Raider Battalion, from its inception seven weeks after Pearl Harbor, through its first brilliant victory." The attack on Makin Island by the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, under the leadership of Col. Evans Carlson, took place on 17 Aug 1942. This group of 210 Marines, later known as "Carlson's Raiders," killed 348 of the 350 Japanese soldiers stationed on the island, while suffering only thirty casualties. These raiders further distinguished themselves in various battles during World War II, particularly those at Guadalcanal. HR news items state that portions of Gung Ho! were shot on location at Camp Elliott, CA; Camp Pendleton, near Oceanside, CA; and at a Marine base near San Diego, CA. According to HR news items, actress Grace McDonald was voted "Sweetheart of Carlson's Marine Raiders" six months prior to her being cast in this film. Actor James Gleason was originally cast in the film, but was forced to relinquish his role due to scheduling conflicts with another film, M-G-M's A Guy Named Joe (see entry below). According to Var , international film financier Jacques Grinieft purchased a fifty-percent interest in Gung Ho! in 1952, along with three other Universal films produced by Walter Wanger. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   25 Dec 1943.   
Daily Variety   17 Dec 43   p. 3, 11
Film Daily   20 Dec 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jul 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Aug 43   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Aug 43   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Aug 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Aug 43   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 43   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Dec 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jan 44   p. 4.
Independent Film Journal   8 Jan 1944.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   25 Dec 43   p. 1686.
New York Times   26 Jan 44   p. 23.
Variety   22 Dec 43   p. 12.
Variety   14 May 1952.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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