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Because of its overly patriotic message, SANDS OF IWO JIMA ($25) is the kind of movie that todayís cynical Hollywood would be aghast to make. SANDS OF IWO JIMA is pure Hollywood flag waving, made at a time when W.W.II was still fresh in the minds of most Americans and when the citizens of this country were truly proud of the sacrifices of its servicemen. SANDS OF IWO JIMA is also something of a public relations film for the Marine Corps, which had fallen under the threat of being disbanded by government officials that felt the corps was a redundant branch of the military.

To make a long story short, SANDS OF IWO JIMA was a huge success and the Marine Corps still exists today. SANDS OF IWO JIMA tells the story of group of marines fighting in the Pacific during W.W.II. The film begins with the day the marines begin their training under the tough Sergeant John M. Stryker (John Wayne) and follows through to the battle on the island of Iwo Jima where the squads witnesses the historic flag raising. Wayne is very good as Stryker, a by the book marine, who is tough on the surface, but a compassionate man underneath. However, Strykerís men only see the sergeantís gung-ho attitude, which leads to several conflicts. SANDS OF IWO JIMA features good recreations of the historic battles, with the inclusion of actual war footage from the actual events. In SANDS OF IWO JIMA, Wayne is supported by a solid cast that features John Agar, Adele Mara Forrest Tucker, Wally Cassell, James Brown, Richard Webb, Arthur Franz, Julie Bishop, James Holden, Peter Coe, Richard Jaeckel and Martin Milner.

SANDS OF IWO JIMA is amongst those films originally released on DVD by Republic Home Video, but now are being distributed by Artisan Entertainment. The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio and has been given a rather impressive black and white transfer. On the packaging it makes mention that SANDS OF IWO JIMA was transferred from the original film negative, from the way the picture looks, I strongly believe it. The image is nearly pristine, with only the actual battle footage showing some imperfections. Both sharpness and the level of detail are excellent for a film released in 1949. Additionally, blacks are absolutely perfect and image displays terrific contrast, all the way from bright whites, thorough all the shades of gray. This well authored DVD doesnít have any noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts.

Considering its age, the Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is very clean. It isnít high fidelity, but the soundtrack really gets the job done in regards to it clean dialogue reproduction. Victor Youngís patriotic score also sounds quite good for a film of this vintage. A Spanish language soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus are basic, supplying access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVDís supplements. Leonard Maltin hosts a twenty-plus minute documentary entitled The Making Of Sands Of Iwo Jima. The documentary includes interviews with John Wayneís son Michael, as well as surviving cast/crew members. Also include on the DVD is a theatrical trailer.

SANDS OF IWO JIMA is classic Hollywood and classic John Wayne; fans will love this DVD. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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