To the Shores of Tripoli
(1942) A Marine recruit finds himself training under his father’s good friend, a tough drill instructor. The title of the movie is taken from the words of the Marines Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli …” and this movie was definitely meant to be a tribute to the Marine Corps. I imagine that when the movie came out there was some cheering from the audience especially during their precision drills. “That’s my boy … he’s a Marine too!”
The movie was still in production when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The ending was quickly changed to reflect the fact that our country had gone to war, and this became both a box office smash hit and a recruiting video for the US Marine Corps as well.
All that being said, John Payne played the role of the recruit … a spoiled rotten kid who wouldn’t/shouldn’t last ten minutes in the Marines. I know it wasn’t Payne’s fault. After all, he had a director … but he was so smirky, so know-it-all that by half way through the story, the same audience was probably thinking, “Thank goodness my boy isn’t anything like that arrogant so and so. How did he ever get into the Marines?”
Unfortunately the recruiting part of it worked because the guys looked great in their uniforms. They were working near beautiful nurses who wore beautiful ballgowns in the evenings. Nothing bad was happening … they just got to march to music all day.
The movie may have been a recruiting success in 1942 but I’ll bet that by 1943 it was billed as a fantasy.