Sands of Iwo Jima is een Amerikaanse zwart-wit film uit 1949, die zich afspeelt in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Het laatste kwart van film is geënsceneerd tijdens de landing op Iwo Jima; de film eindigt met het hijsen van de Amerikaanse vlag op de vulkaan Suribachi. De film schetst het macho karakter van de Amerikaanse marinier tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog.
Verhaal in het Engels.
Tough-as-nails career Marine Sergeant John Stryker (John Wayne) is greatly disliked by the men of his squad, particularly the combat replacements, for the rigorous training he puts them through. He is especially despised by Private Peter Conway (John Agar), the arrogant, college-educated son of an officer, Colonel Sam Conway under whom Stryker served and admired, and Private Al Thomas (Forrest Tucker), who blames him for his demotion.
When Stryker leads his squad in the invasion of Tarawa, the men begin to appreciate his methods, except Conway, who considers him brutal and unfeeling when he apparently abandons a wounded comrade to the enemy. During the battle, Thomas becomes distracted from his mission, and “goofs off” when he goes to get ammunition for two comrades, stopping to savor a cup of coffee. As a result, though he brings back coffee for his squadmates, he returns too late — the two Marines, now out of ammunition, in the interim are shown being overrun; Hellenpolis is killed, Bass badly wounded. When Stryker discovers the truth, he forces Thomas into a fistfight. This is seen by a passing officer, but Thomas, to Stryker’s surprise, deflects the officer’s intention of pressing charges against Stryker for violation of military rules in striking a subordinate by claiming that he was merely being taught judo by his superior. Subsequently, ravaged by his conscience over the fate of his fellow Marines, Thomas breaks down and abjectly apologizes for his dereliction of duty.
Stryker reveals a softer side of his character while on leave in Honolulu. He picks up a bargirl (Julie Bishop) and returns with her to her apartment. He becomes suspicious when he hears somebody in the next room, but upon investigation, finds only a hungry baby boy that his intended paramour is supporting the best way she can. Stryker gives the woman, whose child’s father was “gone,” some money and departs. The woman had earlier noted that there were “worse ways to make a living than fighting a war,” in reference to her current lot in life.
Later, during a training exercise, a recruit drops a live hand grenade. Everybody drops to the ground, except Conway, who is distracted reading a letter from his wife. Stryker knocks him down, saving his life, and then proceeds to bawl him out.
Stryker’s squad subsequently fights in the battle for Iwo Jima, witnessing the iconic flag raising on Mount Suribachi. Afterward, while the men are resting during a lull in the fighting, Stryker is killed by a sniper. The surviving squad members find and read a letter on his person, a missive addressed to his son and expressing things Stryker wanted to say to him, but had never actually managed to.