Pride of the Marines
Cast & Crew
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.
Major Louis Aronson United States Marine Corps
L. Robert Burks
Gordon M. Davis
Edwin Du Par
Leo F. Forbstein
Charles David Forrest
E. Kenneth Martin
Walter F. Tilford
Major Gordon Warner United States Marine Corps
Jack L. Warner
Best Writing, Screenplay
Pride of the Marines
Garfield himself initiated this project when he read a Life magazine article about Schmid, and it's easy to see why: there's enough drama in this role for three actors. In the first part of the picture, Schmid is shown courting and marrying his girlfriend (Eleanor Parker), in his hometown of Philadelphia. When war is declared, he joins the Marines, and is shipped off to Guadalcanal. One night, while under attack by the Japanese, Schmid mans a machine gun and mows down literally hundreds of enemy soldiers. But a grenade blast blinds him, and he's sent home a bitter, changed man.
It's on the home front that Schmid faces his biggest challenges. He'll eventually find a new kind of courage, but not before passing through a dark psychological corridor of anguish and self-doubt, one that also effects his wife. Few punches are pulled in this often harrowing picture, and Garfield is nothing short of magnificent.
Although Daves' Westerns were often ripe with liberal politics, if you looked beneath the surface, Pride of the Marines eventually gained a reputation as his most left-leaning picture. Several years after the movie's release, screenwriter Maltz had the misfortune of becoming one of The Hollywood Ten, a group of higher-echelon film talents who were accused by the House Un-American Activities Committee of being Communists. HUAC used pieces of the dialogue in Pride of the Marines - mostly lines dealing with social consciousness and the struggling underclass as evidence that Maltz had, indeed, deviously inserted coded messages into his work.
Maltz's script is hardly apolitical, but it's quite a stretch to view it as pro-Communist. In fact, the main concern before its release was a simple scene that showed white and black soldiers enjoying each other's company. "In the recreation hall scene," producer Jerry Wald wrote to Daves, "please don't mix colored boys and whites around the piano. This stuff is usually cut out of pictures in the South." No one made any mention of the possibility that the film would instill Marxist teachings in the hearts of its viewers. But then again, Joseph McCarthy didn't work for Warner Bros.
Maltz's career would be derailed for several years due to his blacklisting by HUAC. And Garfield, who refused to testify against his colleagues, also found himself unable to work in films. Many people feel that the harassment he suffered from HUAC contributed to his death from heart failure, at the age of 39.
Producer: Jerry Wald
Director: Delmer Daves
Screenplay: Albert Maltz (from a book by Roger Butterfield)
Music: Franz Waxman
Camera: Peverell Marley
Editor: Owen Marks
Art Direction: Leo Kuter
Sound: Stanley Jones
Set Decoration: Walter F. Tilford
Cast: John Garfield (Al Schmid), Eleanor Parker (Ruth Hartley), Dane Clark (Lee Diamond), John Ridgely (Jim Merchant), Rosemary DeCamp (Virginia Pfeiffer), Ann Doran (Ella Merchant), Warren Douglas (Kebabian), Don McGuire (Irish), Tom D'Andrea (Tom), Rory Mallinson (Doctor), Stephen Richards (Ainslee).
BW-119m. Closed captioning.
by Paul Tatara
Pride of the Marines
The film's working title was This Love of Ours. As depicted in the film, Al Schmid was a welder who won fame during the battle of Guadacanal when he killed 200 Japanese soldiers during a night attack. Schmid was blinded by a grenade early in the morning, but refused to relinquish his position and continued to fight by having a wounded soldier tell him where to point his gun. A September 3, 1945 article in Time notes that at that time Schmid was living in Philadelphia with his wife and one-year-old son. According to the article, Schmid spent his time typing letters to his friends, listening to Bing Crosby recordings and fishing. His eyesight was limited to the perception of bright colors and moving objects. News items in Hollywood Reporter add the following information about the production: Some scenes were shot on location in Philadelphia and at the San Diego Naval Hospital. Ann Doran was borrowed from Paramount for the picture. Cinematographer Sol Polito substituted for Peverell Marley while the latter was out with the flu. In an article in January 12, 1946 issue of Saturday Evening Post, actor John Garfield cited "Al Schmid" as his favorite movie role. The writer Albert Maltz, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay of Pride of the Marines, was later blacklisted. John Garfield and Eleanor Parker reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on December 31, 1945.