Wanger and Universal Stage a Marine Landing
Gung Ho! (1943) Hands Us Victory In The Pacific
Getting even for Pearl is mission of island raiders culled from fightenest Marine battalion led by Randolph Scott, who we sometimes forget was definitive image of a WWII leatherneck in addition to full-time leathery cowboy he'd become after the war. When leadership quality was called for in a player, Scott had it in spades, his fighting man's authority equal to John Wayne in same uniform. Gung Ho! was meant to boost homefront morale with lead-up to real-life victory commandos had against Japanese on Makin Island during August 1942, this among first meaningful wins for our side. Walter Wanger produced for Universal, last in a row of hits he'd done for them in exchange for half ownership of negatives. Trouble was Wanger later selling these rights (in 1948) to an "international film financier" who also took the producer's claim against Universal for % monies due.
However the mess sorted out, it left Gung Ho! and two other of the sold Wangers to ultimate Public Domain mercy, which is why we can't properly see Gung Ho! today. Amazon streams it, and TCM has had playdates, both looking to derive from 16mm. A pity, because Gung Ho! is a rouser and forerunner to Dirty Dozen sorts of impossible missioning. It's also basic train for recruits of Universal enlistment: David Bruce, Rod Cameron, Peter Coe, others. There's also early opportunity for Robert Mitchum, probably a best speaking part he'd had to that point. The message is put directly to us in a closer speech from Randolph Scott, looking camera-straight to warn of dangers still ahead. This was late 1943 as Gung Ho! went into release, victory in sight perhaps, but far from assured.