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.
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?