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Guadalcanal Diary (1943) – DVD Review

DVD cover art for Guadalcanal Diary


Directed by Lewis Seiler
Written by Jerome Cady & Lamar Trotti, based on the book by Richard Tregaskis
Starring Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan, William Bendix, Richard Conte, Anthony Quinn


  • Theatrical trailer

Released by: Fox
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in its original 1.33:1 ratio.

My Advice: Borrow it.

Pic from Guadalcanal Diary

This movie covers the U.S. Marines effort to invade and take control of the island of Guadalcanal and more importantly its airfield, one of the few in the Pacific theater early in the war. It’s a ground level view of the initial attack and the efforts of the Marines right up until U.S. Army forces relieved them.

This movie is based on a book that was in turn based on a series of newspaper articles submitted by Richard Tregaskis, who was present when the U.S. Marine Corps attacked and took Guadalcanal. This was one of the first and more strategic victories for the allies in the Pacific theater.

There have been many movies made about WWII. In the last few years it seems there’s been at least one every year. Back in the forties and fifties it was around twenty-five a year. Every now and then a jewel will emerge that shines above the rest. Recently the example of this was Saving Private Ryan. That was truly a great movie on so many levels, it set the bar for war movies of our current era. So what was the jewel of 1943? Actually, I’m not sure. I doubt it was Guadalcanal Diary but this flick was probably in the top five.

Bottom line, this movie was enjoyable. It kept me involved for the entire ninety-three minute running time. While no single aspect of this movie was great (and a few aspects were barely even good), the movie was very respectable. Whenever I’m watching an old or older movie I try to put the flick in the context in which it was made. Since my dad wasn’t even born in 1943 it’s a little difficult for me to truly understand the period but I assume it was a much more “sheltered” time. The movie rating system didn’t even exist when this movie was released. My point is that some of the “realism” we might expect today isn’t there nor should we expect it to be.

While the movie was good, the DVD was disappointing. Much like every DVD I snag, I want to know more: I want to know why this movie was made, I want to see what was going on behind the scenes. Since this is an older movie, more than likely much of that kind of information doesn’t exist–but how hard is to put together a thirty minute documentary about the film with backlot stories, actor profiles and information on how the movie did when it was released? Or even what movie historians think about the movie today? They do it on American Movie Classics everyday. I don’t think I’m asking too much.