The D.I.

The D.I, 1957 black-and-white military drama starring Jack Webb

Here, I’m taking my next look at a classic film that A Reader Recommended. Last time out, I gave you my take on the martial arts horror film The Boxer’s Omen. This time, my thanks to reader GUNNY KOON USMC Ret for mentioning this movie in a comment he left on the post…well, on just about every post where he’s left a comment!

The concept of manhood is central to director/star Jack Webb’s 1957 military drama The D.I., so it’s fitting that I would have been introduced to it during one of many “Real Man Movie” nights I attended in college. My neighbor in the dorm, who was the Resident Assistant, was the film buff who ran these get-togethers.

We’d screen 1-3 pictures on a given night, depending on how much we decided to drink, and how much we could tolerate the cigar smoke. (Oh, how glad I am to have not maintained that habit outside of the occasional indulgence on a Real Man Movie night.)  The films in our repertoire ranged from the works of Clint Eastwood (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Dirty Harry, and so on) to those of Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep), to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to repeated screenings of The Right Stuff (my neighbor was particularly interested in rocket building); one Real Man regular was partial to the Robert Redford outdoors classic Jeremiah Johnson (we used to do call-and-respond of the mythic opening narration with him endlessly), and he was also very much enamored of The D.I.

As I remember, most of us then felt the film to be pretty cartoonish. Maybe that’s the wrong word. It may have been that, not having been raised on reruns of Dragnet—though we were certainly aware of it—star Webb’s rat-a-tat-tat delivery, in a performance that seemed to younger, less sophisticated eyes to maintain a supernaturally constant emotional temperature, possibly came across as comical, surreal, or absurd.

Plus, we’d already seen Full Metal Jacket, which took the essential narrative of The D.I. (not to mention a hilariously disturbing, gutter-mouthed variation of the title character in the form of real-life drill instructor R. Lee Ermey) and compressed it into the insane first act of its Vietnam saga, with not a heartening happy ending but a darkly satirical and crazy-violent outcome. By comparison, The D.I. may have seemed then like nothing so much as a rah-rah recruiting tool, a piece of propaganda that hardly deserved to be taken so very seriously.

But there are many, many people who do take the movie seriously, and regard it as one of the most realistic portrayals of the Marines—or at least of their demanding training program—ever filmed. That reputation is bolstered by the fact that most of the men cast in the movie were, in fact, not professional actors but soldiers  Marines themselves. (Thanks to reader Gunny Koon for pointing out the “soldier” distinction, and for pointing out that below, I’d originally called The D.I. “Joe” and not “Jim”!) Webb himself was an Air Force enlistee who received a hardship discharge—surely a piece of his biography that allowed him to tap into the emotional core of the screenplay.

Webb plays no-nonsense Technical Sgt. Jim Moore, who fights to “make a man” of the troubled Owens (Don Dubbins), a private consistently complaining of headaches and actively pursuing a discharge from the service. The training regimen at Parris Island has overwhelmed him for reasons that are long left unexplained, leading to a challenge from Moore’s commanding officer (Lin McCarthy) to straighten out his weak-kneed recruit in three days or face repercussions should he damage the success of the unit.

As Moore does his best to rattle Owens’ cage and make it possible for him to be properly trained by his comrades-in-arms (who, of course, face punishments every time Owens screws up), the dedicated drill instructor carries on an uncertain romance with a young woman (Jackie Loughery) he meets at a club.

Based on a television script called The Murder of a Sand Flea—the title of which reflects a mishap that gets Owens into big trouble and the men ordered on a ridiculous nighttime mission that smacks of the infamous strawberry investigation in The Caine MutinyThe D.I. appeared to some to be a conscious effort made by the Marines to rehabilitate their public image, which had been tarnished by the death of six Marine recruits in the controversial “Ribbon Creek incident” of 1956. As one of the rare military films that eschews battle scenes or other conscience-troubling illustrations of the “horrors of war,” it likewise is that rare picture without a genuine antagonist—unless you regard Owens as the bad guy for not packing the gear to serve in his beloved Corps.

This is a film where even Moore’s other dramatic foil, a rival drill sergeant—who publicly belittles him for being a “mother” to Owens—confesses his respect for, admiration for, and jealousy of him openly to Moore’s soon-to-be-girlfriend right after the D.I. gives him a bloody nose for failing to “keep (his) mouth dry” and acting like a blustering goon. This kind of candid, forgiving maturity from one’s enemy immediately marks the film as fairy-tale fiction in my book—but then again, I’m not a Marine (and am not now nor have ever been a member of the armed services), so who am I to say that’s not how it really goes?

Humorous point aside, much of The D.I. does feel almost like documentary. Webb’s directing style is as deceptively straightforward as his acting; there’s nothing fancy here, just enough visual invention to get the job done. In those rare moments when the cinematography and/or cutting departs from the kind of approach we’d most associate with television programs (comfortable medium shots, back-and-forth over-the-shoulders for conversations, dead-centered closeups), it’s done with potency and to make pretty direct and uncomplicated statements of subtext.

When Moore wants to prove his efficacy at training his men, he barks at a recruit (Joseph C. Holmes) to recite his general orders. The camera moves in for a sustained closeup on the soldier’s lips as he bellows out the words in a lightning-fast monotone. The shot lasts an unusually long time, giving you the kind of ecstatic detail we would associate with a Frederick Wiseman documentary.

When Moore is grilling the troops, he is framed from a low angle, because he’s God:

When he’s at his weakest, having been put in his place by a woman—a woman!—the camera instead adopts the God point-of-view to look down on Moore, to illustrate his smallness and helplessness:

And if the movie is occasionally guilty of coming across as over-the-top in spots, I would allow that it would be at least partially attributable to a modern viewer’s cynicism. Who can look at compositions like this and not be a little tickled—however inappropriately—at the notion of how this film relates to the post-DADT era?

The military was officially desegregated by President Truman in 1948, yet you don’t see so very much diversity in these ranks, excepting the presence of Pvt. Rodriguez (Peter J. O’Neill). The D.I. can feel dated in some other ways, including the manner in which Webb courts store clerk Loughery. I wonder how often men—even those in uniform confident of their sex appeal—are tempted these days to roughly grab hold of a woman they hardly know and plant that first kiss on her and expect the second date? It’s funny to watch Webb get uncomfortable around lingerie; not so much watching him almost hit Loughery during a flash of anger, as if it’s the sort of behavior he might regularly engage in but for this broad’s spunk.

As for the central tension between the D.I. and Owens, his anguished recruit? I was struck by how disturbing their initial confrontation in the film seems today; it is difficult to watch Owens’ superior officer insult and disregard his headaches as if they were figments of his imagination, especially given the tragic situation that recently unfolded in Afghanistan. The scenes immediately following do serve to deepen Moore’s character by revealing that the sergeant is, indeed, a thoughtful man who cares in his own way.

We discover, late in the film, that there are very specific reasons for Owens’ psychological difficulties; while the manner in which they are discovered seems to stretch the script’s credibility almost to the breaking point—could things really have progressed to this level without his superiors doing the kind of due diligence that would reveal these facts?—the delay in our getting the details does serve the drama well. You can picture the wheels turning in audience members’ heads as they try to decide for themselves which “problem” to assign Owens.

Is he yellow?

He says he’s “mixed up.”

Oh, God forbid, is he gay?

Is there a sigh of relief that comes for audiences when they discover his torments have origins less challenging or threatening to their values? The bow gets tied a bit too neatly and quickly for my taste at the end of the film (this is late-‘50s filmmaking, so I suppose we can forgive that) after Owens’ mother (Virginia Gregg) delivers a climactic speech that was as disconcerting to me as it was entirely appropriate to what I took to be the message of the film: “We Marines understand each other,” she tells the D.I. and his commanding officer.

I remarked earlier that I hadn’t had the honor of military service. We of course never know quite how we will perform in extremis until and unless we are required to do so, but I can make an educated guess that I would have been a terrible fit for the military. I have the feeling that in the midst of being berated by a drill instructor, I would either be angered into insubordination by the kinds of brutal insults they hurled in my direction…or I’d find the whole thing irresistibly funny, and be branded insubordinate for that reason. Is that you, John Wayne?

That’s the reason I join many who can mostly approach The D.I. only as outsiders. Having said that, we can certainly watch the film and see how its concerns about manhood could translate to those not in the military. You don’t have to be a Marine private like Owens to be a man feeling burdened by the past and so paralyzed in the present that it’s difficult to improve your future. As a vehicle for Jack Webb’s unique persona, the picture is terrific; the quality of the screen acting by its largely nonprofessional cast is truly impressive; you can see the film’s influence on so many others that came later.

And if some of the mores espoused by the picture seem alien to me—including those not limited to the film’s vintage but values that would seem to be intact today—I also recognize that the film is, in large part, by the military…and for the military. The closing credits say as much, saluting the USMC not just for its cooperation in making the film but for:

Tripoli.

Belleau Wood.

Guadalcanal.

Tarawa.

Saipan.

Iwo Jima.

Korea.

The film is not just an entertainment, but an expression of thanks. It does a hardy job of serving as both.

  • Ron

    Good review, from the standpoint of someone who’s never been in the military or in basic training. Thanks.

    The D.I. was one of my fathers favorite movies. He just died about 6 weeks ago and was a WWII and Korea vet in the Navy. Much of his training was at Camp Pendelton with the Marine Corp so he knew how the D.I.’s conducted themselves. I’d occasionally show the film to him after its DVD release and he got a kick out of it because Webb’s character reminded him so much of some of his instructors. I also showed him “Full Metal Jacket” which he did not like as much because although he liked Ermey, he felt that the training brutality was too over the top, something he said didn’t go on when he was at Camp Pendeleton.

    I was also in the military, although not a war vet and was a squad leader during basic training in Louisiana. One of the trainees in my squad was similar in nature to the private Ownes character-stretching the rules to make it easy on himself, thus defeating the purpose of the traing. From my standpoint and the military’s, he needed to man-up because a war is a very bad place to find out if the men around you are up to the mark.

    Most of “The D.I.” was what it seemed, a bit over the top, but most movies are in my opinion because of the time constraints and script restraints involved.

    Webb is missed by many of us old guys, because he was such a good and typical american who put things into proper perspective.

    • http://www.moviesunlimited.com George D. Allen

      Ron,

      Thanks for the comment, and–in the spirit of the post–for your service. And for sharing the story about your dad.

      • John

        Having been at Parris Island just before the tragic drowning’s in 1956. All I can say is they could have been prevented. A Chaplin came to our squad bay and told us that we were taking too much abuse i.e. beatings, broken bones, things I do not care to mention. No one spoke up. Our D. I. would call men to his room and punch recruits for no reason. I was hit so hard I could not take a breath for what seemed like five minutes. Dead recruits do not make good Marines. This is what happens when there is no supervision of the non-coms.

  • GUNNYKOON

    Thank You Mr. Allen for your review of the Only Really Outstanding Marine Corps Film ever made, In my opinon, The D.I. with Jack Webb! Having said that, I’d like to bring you up to speed on just a few things Mr Allen, #1. NEVER EVER CALL A MARINE, A SOLDIER.  #2. Gunnery Sergeant Moore’s First name is, If your a Recruit: “SIR!”, If your a Buddy, It’s “Jim”,…………..Not Joe. (Joe Friday is a Cop) I saw the movie The D.I. when I was a young kid, and I wanted to be a Marine, but as it turned out, I had to start my Military Career in the U.S. Army. I was deafted at the age of 18 in 1965, I spent a year in Vietnam with Co. B 2nd Bn 16th Inf. As soon as I was discharged on 28July67,  I enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to the Marine Recuit Depot, San Diego on 10Aug67. I went to Vietnam 3 times while in the Corps, The first tour was with Co. E, 2nd Bn 5 th Marines I arrived in Vietnam on 20Jan68 and was wounded on the 05Feb68, That was the first of 3 Purple Hearts I recived. I went back to Vietnam 2 more times, The 3rd time was only for 6 months and the last trip was 7 months, it was also the End of the Vietnam War. (28Feb73.)
    I can’t tell you how seeing “The D.I.” Changed my life Mr Allen….But take my word for it, It Did. 
    One last thing Sir, Over the years when I tell someone I started out in the U.S. Army and then went into the Marine Corps, a lot of people will ask ”What’s the Differance between the Army and Marines?” and I always say to them with a little smile on my face, ”Well, Do you know the differance between a Dead Marine and a Dead  Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Coastguardman?….I’m alway surprised  if they say “NO”,  because the Answer is:… None, They all Died Defending  The United States of America.
    SEMPER FIDELIS!  The Gunny Ret Sends
       
     
     

    • George D. Allen

      Gunny,

      Sir yes sir — when I screw up, I like to do a first-class job of it…and there are few head-smacking errors quite like messing up the title character’s name. I have made the correction, and likewise adjusted for your assistance with the “soldier” distinction.

      My gratitude for pointing out those errors with such class. Now pardon me while I drop for 20 and find some spuds to peel! :)

  • Bryank

    I watched the movie. Having been raised in the military, part of it made a lot of sense! Problem is, I have a hearing problem and never got the chance to serve myself, so much of it was over my head. I have to say, though, I really resented the notion of Mr Webbs character being belittled like he was. One of the few things I got from my childhood, is that Bootcamp was necessary for a good reason, and the DI got it! The idea that he would be feeling guilty for what he was doing, in my opinion, is just totally opposite.

  • Fbusch

    Joined the Marine Corps in ’56, right after the perris island drownings. Scared the crap out of me! Luckily, San Diego and Pendelton didn’t have swamps! There is a reason for boot camps harshness. By breaking you down and reassembling you as a marine, you will stay alive better and you’ll always know that your buddies will be there with you. Bootcamp was hard for me, but, I understood what it was about. I still remember my senior D.I. shouting, “You people are lower than whale shit, and that’s at the bottom of the ocean!” “you will not make it”. 50 years later, the best compliment I’ve ever received was when a “bird” coronel who I didn’t know at the time said “you are a marine”, I answered “A long time ago”, He commented, “Once a Marine, always a marine”. I believe that my experiences in the corps has helped me thruogh my whole life. Semper Fi Mr. Webb!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Gaffney/1450547336 Matt Gaffney

    My Dad Capt. Gerald T. Gaffney USMC Ret. was the Regimental Adjutant at 2nd ITR Camp Pendleton when this movie was made. A lot of the enlisted Marines who were in the movie worked for him. Jack Webb was Tech Sgt Moore not a Gunny. I was in the Navy from 1970-1973, Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club 1973. This movie shows boot camp with out the cussing & the beatings. I was called whale shit at NTC San Diego July 1970. I’ve seen this movie thousands of times. I saw it new in San Clemente. My Dad was a DI when World War II started & landed on Gavutu with elements of the 2nd Marine Division August 1942. He said he never hit a boot, but I didn’t believe him. We got hit in Navy Boot Camp, in those days it was part of the program. My nephew graduated MCRD San Diego Oct. 1997 & boot camp is way more civilized than in the old days. The DI’s get to know the boots. This movie, along with Full Metal Jacket is the most realistic portrayal of boot camp I’ve ever seen. The Last Detail is the most realistic one of Sailors I’ve ever seen. I served with guys who reminded me of Bedusky, Mulhous & Meadows. You don’t know what you’re talking about as to how you’d react to a yelling by the DI.  You’re so intimidated you don’t say anything but Yes Sir & No Sir.

    • George D. Allen

      “Technical Sergeant” indeed! The correction has been made — my thanks. (It didn’t take long to verify. While IMDB and Wiki both have him listed as a gunny, I’d obviously forgotten how blatantly they plastered “JACK WEBB as TECHNICAL SERGEANT JIM MOORE” right over his face in the opening minutes. :)

      Thanks for sharing the stories, too.

  • Mt. Ed

    Mr. Ed (AKA Corporal Ed USMC)
    With no ill directed toward Gunny Sgt. R. Lee Ermy, (Full Metal Jacket) who actually was a D.I. (not a Drill Sergeant) the movie The D.I. is a pretty accurate depiction of a recruit’s life in Parris Island. Sure there are some “hokey” parts in the movie, but the spirit and dedication of the D.I.’s are true and the rigors of the recruits are fairly accurate as well. I recently purchased the long-awaited release on DVD and though I may have a “slightly” biased opinion, I truly hope all who have never served in any military capacity can at least appreciate what was being portrayed on the screen. There were many “Private Owenses” that went through Parris Island (or San Diego) throughout the years and the vast majority made it through successfully with the guidence, direction and encouragement of their D.I.’s. If nothing else they instill in you that with your own self-discipline you can achieve almost anything. I believe that is the message that Sgt. Moore was delivering to Private Owens.
    Thank you for reviewing this movie. A very welcome surprise.

  • Smishlove

    Very good post.  When will it be on TCM.?  Respectfully;  Sheldon, USN retired

    • George D. Allen

      Thanks. I don’t have access to the TCM schedule, so I can just give you the biased answer and say that if you decide to add the DVD to your library from Movies Unlimited, you can see “The D.I.” whenever you please!

    • jumbybird

      It played a few months ago on TCM… 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OC6SKJLQDZEY674X7VRYBWH6AI Tom

    The writer viewed two movies in reverse order and should have watched ” The D.I. ” first and then watched ” Full Medal Jacket  ” second.  The eras depicted in these two movies are totally different.  “D.I.” could have been a recruiting film in its day. ”Jacket” with it’s foul mouthed language, the blanket party, one recruit being an undetected – total mental case, the murder of the D.I. and the complete anti-war tone when the Marines were “in-country”, reflects the immorality and political overload of today’s Hollywood.  Which Marine Corps would your Mother rather that you had joined ?  It’s the old ” they just don’t make them like they used to ” story where the majority of the time, the good guy wins and truth, justice and the American way prevails.  Thank God for T.C.M. and the older movies that almost always beat out the new fangled movies of today.  Don’t watch a Hollywood re-make, watch the original FIRST; you will see the difference is quite clear.

    • George D. Allen

      Naturally, one is not always in command of when one gets to what movie first and which movie second, if you follow my point. It was really just a fact of history, not any conscious decision on my part, that put the Kubrick movie in front of me before the Webb. Not that the Kubrick is a remake of “The D.I.” in any case; my point in connecting the two was to remark how they’d stuffed the main plot of the Webb film into the first act of “Full Metal Jacket” and delivered a wholly more disturbing outcome.

      You remark towards the end of your comments:

      ***It’s the old ” they just don’t make them like they used to ” story where the majority of the time, the good guy wins and truth, justice and the American way prevails.***

      I’m inclined to agree with the facts contained in that statement. I would be inclined to disagree with any implication being made that those facts demonstrate that (or any) bygone era is de facto superior to this one, or that the storytelling borne of it represents more truth-telling than myth-making.  :)

  • Frank pienkosky

    surprised nobody mentioned “Tribes”

  • MacQ

    You must remember that this film was made at a time that all adult males were subject to the draft, and most were called on to serve — therefore a large part of early audiences had experienced similar if not identical situations. I Have always found this film to be fairly realistic and group punishment, such as the all-night flea hunt, were quite often the way it was. It’s obvious that the author has never served in the armed forces, and is a product of the pseudo-modern “comfort and convenience at all costs” mentality.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      MacQ — I open with awarding you today’s no-prize for “It’s obvious that the author has never served in the armed forces” — seeing as how I made reference to that fact in the article. Twice. Secondly–to answer the substantive section of your critique, where I’m nevertheless forced to make some inferences because it comes across a little fuzzy to me–I want to ask if you believe that I was doubting the “realism” of the nighttime search for the sand flea when I refer to it as “ridiculous”? If so, be advised, as they might say in the corps, that my use of the word “ridiculous” is meant not to cast doubt on its realism, but on the fact of the “mission” itself. After all — the D.I. knows they’re not going to locate the dead sand flea; the men know they’re not going to locate the dead sand flea; it’s an unspoken but completely understood aspect of the exercise that the outing is designed as a group punishment for the men, something that is meant to encourage them to “train” their faltering comrade. They never give Owens a “Code Red” in the movie, but this training technique is given a good philosophical working-over in the Sorkin/Reiner movie “A Few Good Men.” The claims of success for these types of training techniques are often judged (by the services and by outsiders) against a compass of moral legitimacy. The technique seems to me to be something that clearly “works” much better in the military setting, whereas in civilian society, I’m not sure that “punish all to train one” would go over very well. Having said that, It’s obviously not as black-and-white an issue as, say, torture. The incident was, of course, inspired by the real-life Ribbon Creek tragedy. “The D.I.” just leaves out the part where the six recruits drown. Lastly, I am continuing the attempt to parse out the exact meaning of the personal criticism you close with–my being a product of the “pseudo-modern ‘comfort and convenience at all costs’ mentality.” Are you trying to say:
      (A) That I am, to use a burlesque way of saying it, “one a’ them no-durn-good kids that don’t know what it means to have it rough?” If so, you can dispense with the hoity-toity term “pseudo-modern” entirely and have your attack make sense to the reader. Or,
      (B) Are you actually trying to say that you believe me to be affecting a rhetorical pose for its own sake? Taking on a point of view in which I do not really believe, just to be, uh, “fashionable,” or to make a cynical attempt to raise the temperature of readers like yourself?
      I’m guessing it’s closer to (A), without knowing for sure. My respose to you is to say that I initially considered a commenter whose main thrust was to take a cheap shot at my personal character to be worth less than this much of an involved response. But here you have it anyway, with my final recommendation that, if you want your arguments to be taken seriously in the main, you would do well to stick to arguing on matters of substance rather than fall into the easy trap of making uninformed insults, thus removing yourself from the playground of ideas.

      • jack howard

        Mr Allen, May I offer You a “SEMPER FI SIR!!” Gunny Koon Ret Sends

        • GeorgeDAllen

          You may and I thank you for it!

  • Pf1604

    Good review, that “old old salts” can relate to.  I was a tweener between the DI and Full Metal Jacket, differences yes, but in both what came through was what it meant to be in the Corps in a positive manner.  Full Metal was not as restricted re: language and what did happen to recruits…

  • GeorgeDAllen

    MacQ — I open with awarding you today’s no-prize for “It’s obvious that the author has never served in the armed forces” — seeing as how I made reference to that fact in the article. Twice.
     
    Secondly–to answer the substantive section of your critique, where I’m nevertheless forced to make some inferences because it comes across a little fuzzy to me–I want to ask if you believe that I was doubting the “realism” of the nighttime search for the sand flea when I refer to it as “ridiculous”? If so, be advised, as they might say in the corps, that my use of the word “ridiculous” is meant not to cast doubt on its realism, but on the fact of the “mission” itself.
     
    After all — the D.I. knows they’re not going to locate the dead sand flea; the men know they’re not going to locate the dead sand flea; it’s an unspoken but completely understood aspect of the exercise that the outing is designed as a group punishment for the men, something that is meant to encourage them to “train” their faltering comrade. They never give Owens a “Code Red” in the movie, but this training technique is given a good philosophical working-over in the Sorkin/Reiner movie “A Few Good Men.” The claims of success for these types of training techniques are often judged (by the services and by outsiders) against a compass of moral legitimacy. The technique seems to me to be something that clearly “works” much better in the military setting, whereas in civilian society, I’m not sure that “punish all to train one” would go over very well. Having said that, It’s obviously not as black-and-white an issue as, say, torture.
     
    The incident was, of course, inspired by the real-life Ribbon Creek tragedy. “The D.I.” just leaves out the part where the six recruits drown.
     
    Lastly, I am continuing the attempt to parse out the exact meaning of the personal criticism you close with–my being a product of the “pseudo-modern ‘comfort and convenience at all costs’ mentality.” Are you trying to say:

    (A) That I am, to use a burlesque way of saying it, “one a’ them no-durn-good kids that don’t know what it means to have it rough?” If so, you can dispense with the hoity-toity term “pseudo-modern” entirely and have your attack make sense to the reader. Or,

    (B) Are you actually trying to say that you believe me to be affecting a rhetorical pose for its own sake? Taking on a point of view in which I do not really believe, just to be, uh, ”fashionable,” or to make a cynical attempt to raise the temperature of readers like yourself?   

    I’m guessing it’s closer to (A), without knowing for sure. My respose to you is to say that I initially considered a commenter whose main thrust was to take a cheap shot at my personal character to be worth less than this much of an involved response. But here you have it anyway, with my final recommendation that, if you want your arguments to be taken seriously in the main, you would do well to stick to arguing on matters of substance rather than fall into the easy trap of making uninformed insults, thus removing yourself from the playground of ideas.
     
     

  • Nat Tuna

    I think you need to ;ool at the DI, Full Metal Jacket and was it Young Savages with Darren McGavin and Jan Michael Vincent as a fair representation of life as a boot in the USMC.  Combined the three movies span a period of yeasr during which we as a country saw service in the military radically change.
    Having gone through Parris Island and proud of it there are parts of that experience I relate to in all three. Certainly while FMJ is the most graphic, is is very close to my time on the Island. I am not ashamed to say I am better for it today.

    Nat Tuna

  • Dennisfrizzell

    I have always regarded this as one of the best films about MARINE BOOT training. I say this as a former L/Cpl  of MARINES.

  • jumbybird

    When I saw this recently, it seemed at first to be a spoof of Joe Friday, and the drill instructor movies, but when you realize that it was the original and before Dragnet… it’s brilliant. 

  • Tlynette

    Man, do I love this movie! TCM aired a Jack Webb double-header recently, with “The D I” and “-30-”  — two films that rarely get any play, and it reminded me how good story telling can be. No violence, no cussing, no skin, just plain good story telling.