The heroic defense of Wake Island in December 1941 by some 385 US marines has not only been reproduced as a screen feature almost minutely faithful to the facts but without stooping to cheapness in any way.
Wake Island makes it clear those men didn’t fight and die in vain. True, the Japs took Wake, but the Marines took the Japs for at least four warships and hundreds of men.
Brian Donlevy is excellent as the ever-going and unexcitable major who commanded the post, while coming nearest to stealing personal glory away from the story itself are Robert Preston and William Bendix as a kind of Quirt and Flagg combination. Albert Dekker overdoes things just a bit as a tough construction superintendent, while Macdonald Carey shows fine restraint as a flier who is trying to even the score for the death of his wife in the Pearl Harbor attack.
Par obtained a very faithful reproduction of Wake on the shores of the Salton Sea in the California desert. It has all the desolateness of the real thing.
1942: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supp. Actor (William Bendix), Original Screenplay