MARINES, LET’S GO! shows how out-of-touch old fogies can be with changing times and mores. In this case 69-year old studio czar Jack L. Warner sent a print of this 1961 noisemaker, directed over at Fox by 74-year-old Raoul Walsh, to the White House, where 44-year-old President John F. Kennedy was mulling approval over who would helm a movie of his WW2 exploits. The sophisticated Kennedy wit and his personal experience with combat were not impressed by the 103 minutes of juvenile hi-jinks and phony action displayed and Jack F. basically told Jack L. he hated it. Warner gave the job on PT-109 to Les Martinson, who muffed it.
Young turks Tom Tryon (coming off 17 episodes as Disney’s ‘Texas John Slaughter’), David Hedison (hoping to live down The Lost World ) and newby tough-guy Tom Reese no doubt wanted a Walsh credit on their resumes, but this did no-one any favors, as they horse around Tokyo getting into brawls and geisha houses, eventually ironing out their aesthetic differences thru battle over in Korea. $1,665,000 worth of Loud & Dumb.
The noisy action scenes fill the screen with acres of free artillery, tanks, and troops, thanks to an enlistment-happy Pentagon. Did they sense ‘something coming’ requiring 18-year old bodies? Walsh’s technicians provide the explosions but it’s all phony as hell—hardly anyone gets hit, a feat considering the men and vehicles are massed in such a way that would gratify any Commie with a seeing-eye dog and a musket. Reese had two tours in the Corps, so he must’ve cringed at the fakery, and any leatherneck who’d been through real flying shrapnel would be rightly incensed.
The movie clanked into 79th place for the year. A thumping title tune from Rex Allen hit #21 on the Billboard Country Chart, never mind a lyric mentioning ‘Anzio’, where, uh, the Marine’s didn’t land. Since when does a pesky thing like getting your facts straight have anything to do with a doggone patriotic song?