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Pride of the Marines

Pride of the Marines(1945)


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In Philadelphia, in 1941, confirmed bachelor Al Schmid, a welder, lives with his friends, Jim and Ella May Merchant, and their young daughter Lucy. The happily married Ella continually introduces Al to eligible women. To discourage her, Al is very rude to Ruth Hartley, whom Ella has invited to dinner, and is shocked when, at the end of the evening, Ruth chides him for his boorish behavior. Chastened, Al asks for another chance, and he and Ruth grow to love each other. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Al enlists in the Marines. Before he leaves, he advises Ruth to forget him, but she disregards his advice, and early the next morning, sees him off at the train station. There, Al finally admits that he loves her and asks her to wait for him. Al is sent to Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, where he and other Marines defend the island from a Japanese attack. After killing almost 200 Japanese soldiers, Al is blinded by a grenade. At the naval hospital in San Diego, Red Cross nurse Virginia Pfeiffer encourages Al to tell Ruth about his eyes, but Al is convinced that his blindness is only temporary. When an operation fails to restore his sight, Al is bitter and refuses to learn how to function as a blind man. Not wanting Ruth to be tied to a helpless man, Al dictates a letter to Virginia breaking off their engagement. When a broken-hearted Ruth calls Al, he will not speak to her, but Virginia secretly tells Ruth about Al's blindness and advises her to keep writing to him. Al learns that he is not alone in his fears for the future. While some of the injured veterans look forward to attending college on the G.I. Bill, others remember the way their fathers were treated after World War I and doubt that they will fare any better. When Al is notified that he and his friend, Lee Diamond, will be awarded the Navy Cross in Philadelphia, he does not want any of his old friends to see him. On the train, Lee accuses Al of cowardice and points out that he himself has faced discrimination because of anti-semitism. Despite Al's wishes, Ruth is waiting at the station, and through a ruse, takes him home without his knowing who she is. Although it is Christmas Eve, Al does not want to go inside, but the Merchants rush out to welcome him. They do their best to encourage Al to stay with them, and Ruth tells him he has been promised his old job if he takes a training course for the blind. When the Merchants leave Al alone with Ruth, however, he insists that she take him to the hospital. Ruth is furious and finally convinces Al that she loves him and wants him, whether or not he is blind. The next day, when Al is awarded his Navy Cross, Ruth and the Merchants are there to applaud. As they leave the ceremony, Al realizes that he is able to distinguish bright colors and is hopeful that he may regain some sight.