The Sullivans

  • 1944
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, War

The tragic story of the Sullivans, five brothers who served together on the cruiser Juneau in WWII and who were all killed at Guadalcanal, is related in this film that reminded Americans what they were fighting for in 1944. The story begins in the small town of Waterloo, Iowa, when the Sullivans are boys. Their father, Mitchell, works for the railroad while...read more

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The tragic story of the Sullivans, five brothers who served together on the cruiser Juneau in WWII and who were all killed at Guadalcanal, is related in this film that reminded Americans what they were fighting for in 1944. The story begins in the small town of Waterloo, Iowa, when the

Sullivans are boys. Their father, Mitchell, works for the railroad while his wife, Royle, keeps house and tries to keep an eye on their rambunctious boys, who are shown on their childhood small-town rounds, from chores to experiments with smoking. (Mitchell catches them smoking cornsilk and makes

them try cigars instead--they all get sick.) Later, after the boys have grown to manhood (and are now played by Campbell, Cardwell, Alvin, Offerman, and Ryan), Ryan is the first to marry a nice girl (Baxter) and settle down. But the world invades the solitude of Waterloo in the aftermath of the

Pearl Harbor bombing, and the patriotic Sullivan sons all decide to join the Navy. Even Ryan, who has a young family to think of, is urged by Baxter to join his brothers. Since they have always been a team, the Sullivans insist on serving together and are assigned duty on the Juneau. When all are

killed in the same battle, the news is received at home with grief, but also with pride. Mitchell and Royle are comforted to know that their boys would have wanted to go down together. (After the Sullivans' deaths, however, the Navy prohibited the assignment of all family members on the same

ship.)

THE SULLIVANS is a moving film that brings home the tragedy of loss and the cost of war. The film successfully re-creates the flavor of small-town life, with a depth that transcends the standard Hollywood Andy Hardy-style sentimentality. The casting of relative unknowns in the brothers' roles

enhances the film's realism, eliminating star-power distractions; by contrast, veteran character actor Thomas Mitchell, as the film's most recognizable performer, lends an air of authority and reassurance to his role as the clan's loving patriarch. A very entertaining, warm film full of nostalgia

for small-town life and values, THE SULLIVANS is also a tribute to the men who give their lives in the war, the families that suffered their loss, and the life for which they fought. The title was changed to THE FIGHTING SULLIVANS shortly after the film's release to improve its box office draw.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The tragic story of the Sullivans, five brothers who served together on the cruiser Juneau in WWII and who were all killed at Guadalcanal, is related in this film that reminded Americans what they were fighting for in 1944. The story begins in the small to… (more)

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