Learning Difficulty





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TitlePride of the Marines (1945)
Alternative/Original Title
GenreWar True story
DirectorDelmer Daves
CastJohn Garfield Eleanor Parker Dane Clark John Ridgley Rosemary DeCamp Ann Doran
NotesB/W. After being a hero at Guadalcanal for which he won a Navy Cross a marine is blinded by a grenade. He doesn't take the disability well and is full of self-pity. But his girlfriend and buddy are able to persuade him that all is not lost. Eventually he accepts that he lost his sight for a good cause and that he can still function as a full human being in society. **************************** There's a longish introduction relating Garfield's character to family, friends and girlfriend. Then he's off fighting the Japanese. The battle scenes are sloppily done as the Japanese just rush obligingly into the American's machine guns. Then a wounded Japanese who lies just below their sandbag emplacement ever so slowly raises himself and lets off a grenade. The Japanese is presumably killed while Garfield takes the full blast in his face. Garfield makes some heroic gesture at carrying on killing the 'Japs' and even at this stage there isn't a mark on his face. From this point Garfield's performance is pathetic and stereotypical. His head remains rigid while his 'sightless' eyes stare into space. What this suggests to me is that he, and many other actors, never studied their character. One wonders just how did they prepare? Garfield completely rejects his new condition and every attempt to help him, and overall feels sorry for himself. Of course Garfield rejects his girlfriend and tells her to find someone else, not out of a good nature but self-pity. He rejects everyone and one wonders if the script isn't written this way to create confrontation. It seems like the writers thought that he must either reject all help or passively accept that everything must be done for him and be a burden on society. There is no consideration that he might actively work with others to make his new life as effective as possible. There is a saying that you should change the things which can be changed and leave alone those that can't be changed. The only difficulty is deciding which is which. At one stage in the hospital there is a scene which now seems phoney in which the men discuss politics and the G.I. bill. But I think we should accept this in the context of films at that time being a source of information for many. Of course he gets back with his girlfriend through the intervention of a nurse. So it's O.K. if someone does something for you if you don't know about it. But here is another dishonesty. Garfield has not seen his girlfriend since he went to war. Now returning from the war many soldiers, able-bodied or not (though often with mental scars) was problematic. Never mind those soldiers who were engaged thousands of men who were married returned to discover their marriages were over. The divorce statistics in 1946/47 shoot up from the sea bed to the heights of Everest. There is also the presumption throughout the film that he is worse off than the other veterans in the hospital. One thing to note is that the nurses and others lead him by the arm, even at one point a nurse pushes him into a room. It is only when he is receiving the Navy Cross that he has his hand gripping the proffered arm of the soldier accompanying him. And by the very end he is still convinced he will be 'cured' and the audience is led to believe this as he walks off with his girlfriend and showily points out the colour of a car across the road. This well known film and often respected film would make an ideal subject for discussion. James Agee calls its ". . . very respectably honest and dogged." I would say this film is deeply dishonest. Compare the prospect of rejection because of one's disability with "The Best Years of Our Lives" and Brando in "The Men".

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