Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

In director Allan Dwan's action-war film:

  • the scene of tough Marine Sergeant John M. Stryker (Oscar-nominated John Wayne) addressing his combat soldiers, a new batch of recruits to fight in the Pacific theatre of the war as a rifle squad, with his determination to harshly mold them into fighting men: ("You gotta learn right and you gotta learn fast. And any man that doesn't want to cooperate, I'll make him wish he hadn't been born. Before I'm through with you, you're gonna move like one man and think like one man. If you don't, you'll be dead")
  • Stryker's threat to kill Pfc Conway (John Agar): ("That's just what I'll do. This mission is bigger than any individual") for wanting to rescue wounded comrade Pfc. Bass (James Brown) (whose faint voice could be heard calling out "Corpsman"), but would tip off their whereabouts to the Japanese enemy; Conway asserted: "The only way you can stop me is to kill me"
  • Stryker's repeated phrase: "Saddle up!"
  • the unexpected and random, unheroic death of Stryker who had just completed a strategic assault on the volcanic Japanese island of Iwo Jima - he paused to relax with a cigarette after having just told fellow Marine Conway: "As a matter of fact, I never felt so good in my life" and was asking: "How about a cigarette?" - when he was shot and killed by a sniper in a bunker
  • the somber reading of an undelivered and unfinished letter written by Stryker to his son: ("Dear son, I guess none of my letters have reached you, but I thought I'd better try again cause I have the feeling that this may be the last time I can write you. For a long time, I've wanted to tell you many things. Now that you're a big boy, I will. If we could have been together even for a little while, I could've explained many things much better than writing them. You've gotta take care of your mother, and love her and make her happy. Never hurt her or anyone as I did. Always do what your heart tells you is right. Maybe someone will write you some day and tell you about me. I want you to be like me in some things, but not like me in others, because when you grow older and get to know more about me, you'll see that I've been a failure in many ways. This isn't what I wanted, things just turned out that way. If there was only more time, I...")
  • the film's last line (accompanied by the singing of The Halls of Montezuma) was heard with the memorable raising of the flag ("There she goes") on Mount Suribachi: "All right! Saddle up! Let's get back in the war!"


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