To the Shores of Tripoli


Life at the Marine Training Base in San Diego on the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

ACTORS :  Randolph Scott, John Payne, Maureen O’Hara


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To the Shores of Tripoli, Sergeant Dixie Smith has more raw recruits to turn into Marines, if he can. Among them is cocky casanova Chris Winters, son of an officer, who’s just tried to “mash” Mary Carter, a major’s niece. Once on base, he finds Mary’s a nurse and an off-limits officer. Does this stop him? Of course not. But his attitude problem soon puts him in a position where he must redeem himself, with December 7, 1941 fast approaching.

Underrated flag-waiver, and O’Hara is gorgeous!

 To the Shores of Tripoli, This plot of this film- selfish rich boy joins the armed forces and by turns is converted into a red-blooded selfless team player- is often called cliche’. However, you have to bear in mind that it wasn’t at the time it was made; It was one of the genre of plots that became cliche’ latter (In fact, it is basically a color remake of “I Wanted Wings”…a much better film IMHO… substituting the Marines for the Air Corps.)

But what it does have is a great cast, great production values and the distinction of the first pairing the lovely Maureen O’Hara, stunning in beautiful early Technicolor, and John Payne. Arguably this is one of the great, if minor, pairings of the 40’s (“Sentimental Journey”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, etc.) that culminated in a return to the Marine/Tripoli theme: In 1950 the pair would almost single-handedly capture the city in “Tripoli”.

Is it great cinema? Nah…but it’s a fun picture to watch for buffs.

Before Sgt. Foley there was Sgt. Smith.

After watching this movie, I now know where the “Officer and a Gentleman” screen writers probably got their idea for the character Sgt. Foley. Randolph Scott was the Sgt. Foley of the 1940s. This movie was made during World War Two, but it spares us the jingoistic propaganda associated with most war movies of that era and offers interesting and likable characters, especially Maureen O’Hara as a Navy nurse and John Payne as the recruit. While watching this movie I thought of Richard Gere and how he would have fit in well in this movie. The similarities between this movie and “Officer” must be more than just coincidental. “Officer” was more intense but this movie did not need to rely on such theatrics to maintain audience interest because the star of this movie was the USMC itself.




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