First to Fight
(1967) After young Marine Jack Connell fights heroically at Guadalcanal he receives the Congressional Medal of Honor and lands stateside soft job. He marries the girl of his dreams, but he’s not happy. Even though he promised his new wife he wouldn’t, he asks to be reassigned to a combat position.
After watching the initial battle scenes I hoped this movie would be a better tribute to the Marines than the movie I had just watched, To the Shores of Tripoli, filmed in 1942 just as war was breaking out.
Well, the beginning was a lot better. From what I’ve read the story of this young Marine is based on the experiences of either U.S. Marine Mitchell Paige or John Basilone … Both received the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions at Guadalcanal.
The middle of the movie however was a typical ’60′s romance starring the blonde who had a perfect updo that either had to be a hairpiece or she spent the last couple hours in the beauty parlor. A saving grace was Chad Everett’s dimples. This was just two years before he landed the starring role in TV’s Medical Center as Dr. Joe Gannon.
Once he got back into action Marine Jack was assigned to be a platoon leader, and all the men in his unit were excited to meet “Shanghai Jack.” That is, until they landed on the beaches at Normany and he froze under fire. He spoke honestly to his Sergeant (Gene Hackman) about his fears and eventually seemed to overcome them.
Thanks to the beginning and the end this movie is a more realistic portrayal of what can easily happen when death is just a few feet away.