AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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We Are the Marines
Director: Louis de Rochemont (Dir)
Release Date:   8 Jan 1943
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 14 Dec 1942
Production Date:   ended late Jul 1942 at York Beach, ME
Duration (in mins):   60, 65 or 70
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Summary: Using filmed interviews with actual Marines, historical photographs, newsreels and re-enactments, this documentary relates the history and purpose of the U.S. Marine Corps: The Marines are the first military unit to fight in any land assault. Their historic function is to parry the first blow struck against the United States and to stay in the front lines until the end of the war. Offensive action is the Corps's speciality. The oldest American fighting force, the Marine Corps was founded by the Continental Congress in 1775 and has fought in every U.S. war. The Marines were nicknamed "leathernecks" for the rawhide collars they once wore as protection against the cutlasses of the Barbary pirates in Tripoli in 1801. Next, the film describes the current Corps, as it prepares to do battle with the Japanese: After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands of men join the Marines' all volunteer force and are subjected to its physically demanding training program. "Boots," as the new recruits are called, refer to their rifles, which will remain with them during their military career, as their sweethearts. Some Marines attend special schools or learn to pilot planes in the Naval Air Force. Every pilot must be able to read and interpret reconnaissance photographs. They practice landing in small areas that simulate the deck of an aircraft carrier or the small, rough airfields near war zones. Paramarines, or paratroopers, who receive extra pay, are sent in behind the lines on dangerous hit-and-run missions. As one Marine says, "Training builds confidence; confidence builds courage; and courage plus anger makes the Marine dangerous to Nazis and Japs." During a mission, the first wave of troops land just before dawn in amphibious tractors called "alligators." The second wave accompanies light tanks. Finally, the film discusses the Corps's unprepared condition on 7 Dec 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor: At that time, the Marines have only small detachments on the Pacific islands. On American Samoa, for example, most of the Marines work in support of Pan American Airlines. When word arrives of the Japanese attack, the men there try to hold off the Japanese until reinforcements can arrive and, when reinforcements do not arrive, the Marines fight on until the end. By July 1942, new Marines are trained, confident and on the way to battle. 

Production Company: The March of Time in collaboration with the U.S. Marine Corps  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Louis de Rochemont (Dir)
Producer: Louis de Rochemont (Prod)
Writer: James L. Shute (Scr)
  J. T. Everitt (Scr)
  J. S. Martin (Scr)
  Lt. John Monks Jr. (Scr)
Music: Jack Shaindlin (Mus dir)
Production Misc: Westbrook Van Voorhis (Narr by)
  Major Edward Hagenah (Tech adv)
  Lt. Col Frank Goettge (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Songs: "The Marine's Hymn," words anonymous, music based on a theme from the opera Geneviève de Brabant by Jacques Offenbach; "You Are My Sunshine," words and music by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell.
Composer: Jimmie Davis
  Charles Mitchell
  Jacques Offenbach

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Documentary
  Documentary
Sub-Genre: World War II
  with songs
 
Subjects (Major): United States. Marine Corps
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): American Samoa
  Japan. Army
  Military education
  Pan American Airlines
  War preparedness

Note: The film begins with the following written foreword: "We who are shown in this picture are not actors, but United States Marines. Most of us whom you see will have now been in battle, in the Solomons or elsewhere...many of us are now bravely dead." For the most part, this film is narrated by the Marines themselves. A 4 Oct 1942 NYT article reports that March of Time cameramen were about to sail for Hawaii to shoot footage of the Marines stationed there, when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor made that impossible. The cameramen were then diverted to Camp Elliott, a training camp near San Diego, CA. Additional footage was shot at Quantico and other Marine bases.
       Because of the difficulty of shooting under battle conditions, some scenes were re-enacted for the camera. Technical advisor Lt. Col. Frank Goettge was killed in action in the Pacific, according to the article. The PM review noted that there were "no Negroes in MOT's Marines, although the USMC now admits Negroes." The reviewer added that the Hays Office insisted that the filmmakers remove the word "bastards" from Col. William T. Clement's order to "blow the bastards out of the water" during a re-enactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   12-Dec-42   
Daily Variety   7 Dec 42   p. 3, 10
Film Daily   11 Dec 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Jul 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Sep 42   p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald   12 Dec 1942.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   12 Dec 42   p. 1053.
New York Herald Tribune   13 Dec 1942.   
New York Times   4 Oct 1942.   
New York Times   14 Dec 42   p. 19.
PM (Journal)   14 Dec 1942.   
Variety   9 Dec 42   p. 8.

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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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