Movies have long been a popular medium of entertainment, with a genre for seemingly every interest. Moreover, motion pictures have served as a potent message system, contributing to the public’s collective vision of the Marine Corps. Movies can be a powerful tool for shaping public opinion about war and war-fighters. Indeed, some of our most popular mental images of war may be fictional products of the cinema. Marines have been featured frequently on the silver screen in films that reflect much about the cultural sentiments of the society and the times in which they were produced.
The Museum's movie poster collection, "Hollywood Leathernecks: Movie Posters Inspired by Marines," provided a glimpse into how Marines have been portrayed in American movies from the 1920s to today. From 1918's "The Unbeliever" to "Guadalcanal Diary" to "Heartbreak Ridge" and "A Few Good Men," visitors will trace Hollywood's version of Marine Corps history through this colorful and fun show featuring more than 30 posters. The collection is currently off-display.
General Kessler's Top Hollywood Leathernecks Movie List
After reviewing the over 30 films compiled from the Museum's Hollywood Leathernecks movie poster collection, our President & CEO has selected his top 10 list for you. This was no easy task to narrow it down. In no particular order, below is the General's list of favorite movies and one television mini-series that was too good to leave out. Click on the movie posters below to find streaming options.
With the Marines at Tarawa 1944
In 1945, the Marine Corps received an Academy Award for this documentary, filmed by WWII Marine Corps cinematographers attached to the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division. The film, which depicts the first waves of the attack on Tarawa in November 1943, was selected as Best Short Documentary. The Oscar is exhibited in the Museum’s WWII gallery.
Flying Leathernecks 1951
Photography for this film took place at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California. The movie details the exploits and personal battles of United States Marine Corps aviators during World War II.
Full Metal Jacket 1987
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.
A Few Good Men 1992
The movie was based on a play by the same name by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The movie title is, in part, based on the Marine Corps recruiting campaign slogan “We Are Looking for a Few Good Men.”
Flag of Our Fathers 2006
The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.
Sand of Iwo Jima 1949
One of the top three most popular films of 1949, this movie features one of the most prized possessions of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Museum—the second flag raised on Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima during WWII. The original flag was used in the scene where three of the actual flag-raisers present actor John Wayne with the folded flag.
The D.I. 1957
Gunnery Sergeant Jim Moore is one of the toughest Drill Instructors on Parris Island. But he's got a thorn in his side: Pvt. Owens, who always seems to foul up when the pressure's on.
Heartbreak Ridge 1986
The Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Division Band is featured in the final scene in this film, celebrating the return of GySgt Highway’s (Clint Eastwood’s) unit from Grenada.
Taking Chance 2009 Based on real-life events, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a volunteer military escort officer, accompanies the body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyoming.
The Pacific (mini-series) 2010
The Pacific Theatre of World War II, as seen through the eyes of several young Marines.
About the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Dedicated to the preservation and promulgation of Marine Corps history, culture and traditions, and the education of all American of its virtues, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation was established in 1979 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Foundation supports the historical programs of the Marine Corps in ways not possible through government funds. The Foundation provides grants and scholarships for research and the renovation, restoration, and commissioning of historical Marine Corps artifacts and landmarks. Having secured the necessary funding for the complete construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center, located in Triangle, Virginia, the Foundation’s current primary mission is to vigorously seek financial support to expand programs at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and beyond its walls. For more information, visit marineheritage.org.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps will temporarily close beginning on Monday, November 23, 2020. Recent increases in COVID-19 cases, both regionally and nationally, drove the closure decision. The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation office will continue to support and serve donors during this closure. Our team is still booking and hosting private events. Please follow the Museum's social media channels (@usmcmuseum) and check back for updates.
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