Flying Leathernecks, Nicholas Ray (1951)

Very little in this bit of standard-issue WWII business anticipates the Miltown-era genius of Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (a picture everyone should watch every five years or so, so as to marvel at its perpetual contemporaneity), but there are some glimmers. The medic at one point makes clear to John Wayne that his XO (Robert Ryan) suffers from neurosis, and there’s a really weird scene when John Wayne, very improbably, goes home to see his perfect wife and perfect kid in their perfect suburban house. As in Rebel Without a Cause, you can feel the weirdness just beneath the surface, especially from the kid, who presses his father for gory details of combat, then runs to embrace him. Predictable patriotic/archal ending where Wayne, kicked upstairs to a desk job, passes on the birthright of command to Ryan. Eh.

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