Filmed at the behest of RKO chieftain Howard R. Hughes, Leathernecks is a paean to the Marine Flying Corps of World War II. Wayne plays Major Dan Kirby, a squadron commander, whose no-nonsense attitude is sharply at odds with the easygoing approach of executive officer Captain Carl Griffin (Robert Ryan).
Griffin eventually learns the value of discipline at all costs, while Kirby becomes more humanized as he gets to know his pilots. Jay C. Flippen steals the show as a supply sergeant who borrows from other companies to keep his men happy.
Though not entirely cliché-free, Flying Leathernecks is one of the more solid war films of the 1950s, and one that has remained readily available in theaters, on TV and in video stores to the present day.