Classic Film Guide

Pride of the Marines (1945)

John Garfield plays Al Schmid, a single friend of married couple Jim & Ella Merchant (Jim Ridgely & Ann Doran) and their teenage daughter Loretta (Ann Todd). Like happily married people are wont to do, they set Al up on a blind date, against his will, with Ruth Hartley (Eleanor Parker). But, after resisting getting involved with her, they begin dating. One day at Al's workplace, where he is a welder, he learns of a friend's enlistment into the Marines and decides to sign up himself. Ruth and Al have a last date, with Al insisting that she forget about him, given his unknown future. However, when she goes to meet his departure train, he is overjoyed and gives her an engagement ring.

In the Battle of the Pacific, Al and his squadron find themselves in a foxhole assigned to prevent the Japanese from breaching their line at night. We briefly get to know several of the soldiers, including Lee Diamond (Dane Clark), before the attack. During the attack, many of them are killed but Al ends up single-handedly saving the day. However, he is wounded by a suicide bomber in the final scene of the battle.

Later in a hospital, Al learns that he can't see, a condition that doesn't change even after he has surgery. Feeling sorry for himself, he dictates a letter through a nurse to tell Ruth that he is relieving her of any obligation to marry him. Though his friend Lee, the nurse, the doctors, and others try, he will not be convinced or persuaded to try to return to a "normal" life, given his condition. Instead, he stays in the hospital until they no longer allow him to remain there.

*** SPOILERS ***

He returns home on a train, with Lee in tow. However, he does not want to see Ruth and, when he does anyway, will not accept her undying love regardless of her encouraging words. He does not feel that he is a real man anymore, and his pride will not allow her to take care of him. But when he is awarded the Navy Cross for his service in the Pacific, and his vision allows him to "see" a fuzzy red-topped taxicab as Ruth escorts him afterwards, we get our happy ending.

This film's Screenplay was nominated for a Best Writing Academy Award.

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