To the Shores of Tripoli

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To the Shores of Tripoli
To the Shores of Tripoli - 1942 - poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Lamar Trotti (screenplay)
Steve Fisher (story)
Starring John Payne
Maureen O'Hara
Randolph Scott
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Edward Cronjager
Harry Jackson
William V. Skall
Edited by Allen McNeil
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 11, 1942 (1942-03-11)
Running time
86 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2 million[1]

To the Shores of Tripoli is a 1942 American Technicolor film starring John Payne, Maureen O'Hara and Randolph Scott. The film was directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and produced by Milton Sperling.


Titled after a lyric in the Marines' Hymn, which contains the phrase "... to the shores of Tripoli" (which is, itself, a reference to the Battle of Derne) the film is one of the last of the pre-Pearl Harbor service films. When the film was in post-production the Pearl Harbor attack occurred having the studio shoot a new ending where Payne re-enlists.

Wealthy Culver Military Academy drop-out and playboy Chris Winters (John Payne) enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps as a private where he meets his drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Dixie Smith (Randolph Scott) and falls in love with a Navy nurse, Lieutenant Mary Carter (Maureen O'Hara). Smith is given a letter from Winters' father. Captain Christopher Winters (Minor Watson) writes Smith of his playboy son. Sgt. Smith served in World War I under the elder Winters; Smith affectionately calls Winters "The Skipper". Chris Winters can not understand that Officers and Enlisted Men do not associate under the non-fraternization policy, even if the officer is a woman and the enlisted man is a male.

Chris' society girlfriend Helene Hunt (Nancy Kelly) wants Chris to get a cushy civilian job in Washington, D.C. and uses her uncle's power and her influence on the base commander, General Gordon. In sequences filmed at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Smith gives the younger Winters an opportunity to demonstrate his leadership potential by drilling his platoon. To Smith's amusement the Marines mock Chris and perform slapstick antics during the drill as Winters marches them away. As Smith is enjoying himself the platoon marches back and performs close order drill of a high order of perfection. Smith is greatly surprised until he looks over the platoon and notices several Marines have black eyes, chipped teeth and bruises. Chris Winters says, "I was captain of the boxing team at Culver."

Winters is selected for Sea School and on gunnery practice during naval maneuvers he bravely saves Dixie Smith's life when repairing gunnery targets. Chris picks a fight with Smith. However, Smith claimed he struck the first blow, by being busted in rank Smith will save Chris from the Naval Prison. Despite winning the respect of Dixie Smith and his fellow Marines, Chris decides to leave the Marines. But then he hears the news of the Pearl Harbor attack when driving in a car with Helene. His way is blocked by his old platoon marching to a Navy transport ship. Chris Winters runs to Sgt. Dixie Smith to reenlist; Chris enters the ranks that close up as he dresses in his old uniform from his satchel, he tosses away his civilian clothes and is in uniform except for his two-toned shoes. Chris's proud father, (Watson) wounded in World War I, asks his son to "Get a Jap for me".



The original planned ending was a simple romantic coupling with Maureen O'Hara's Navy nurse, but after Pearl Harbor, it switched to John Payne signing up for war.

Portions of the film were shot at the Marine Base in San Diego.[2]

The Marines credit the movie as the biggest single recruitment aid in 1942. In 1940, before Pearl Harbor, there were only 19,400 Marines; when WWII ended there were 485,052 Marines and this number was subsequently reduced to 77,000 as the USA de-mobilized.

Though a big money maker, author Leon Uris ridicules the film in his reaction of Marines who see it in Battle Cry.

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Magazine advertisement poster of the 20th Century-Fox Picture To The Shores of Tripoli released March 11, 1942. Film stars: John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, William Tracy, Maxie Rosenbloom, Henry Morgan, Edmund McDonald, Russell Hicks, Minor Watson. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. Directed by Bruce Humberstone. Filming location: Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. Film was dedicated to the 385 U.S. Marines at Wake Island – Uncle Sam's toughest nephews! From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli – U.S. Marine Hymm.


  1. ^ "WHICH CINEMA FILMS HAVE EARNED THE MOST MONEY SINCE 1914?.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.: 1848–1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 4 March 1944. p. 3 Supplement: The Argus Weekend magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ To the Shores of Tripoli at the American Film Institute Catalog

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