GenreWar, Drama ProductionColumbia Pictures WriterRichard Alan Simmons LanguageEnglish
Release dateNovember 2, 1958 CastKerwin Mathews (Sgt. Thomas A. 'Tom' Sloan), Julie Adams (Ruth Nelson Campbell), Ray Danton (Lt. Joel Brady), Karen Sharpe (Paula Nelson) Similar moviesRelated Paul Wendkos movies
Tarawa Beachhead is a 1958 film directed by Paul Wendkos. It stars Columbia Pictures contract star Kerwin Mathews in his first leading role and the husband and wife team of Ray Danton and Julie Adams. The working title of the film was Flag over Tarawa and was originally to have starred Ronald Reagan.
Sgt. Tom Sloan sees his Lieutenant Joel Brady kill one of their own Marines, Johnny Campbell on Guadalcanal after Brady led a disastrous suicidal attack against Japanese entrenched in caves. As the only survivors of the debacle, Sloan doesn't turn Brady in as he assumes no one will believe his word against an officer's. With Brady's recommendation, Sloan is later commissioned and assigned as an aide to a general (Onslow Stevens) back in the 2nd Marine Division headquarters in New Zealand.
Lt. Sloan meets Campbell's widow, Ruth (Julie Adams) to bring her letters written by Johnny. However he meets Brady who is keeping company with Ruth's sister (Karen Sharpe).
Sloan lands on Tarawa with Brady, now a Captain; each hating each other more than the Japanese.
The film contains extensive amounts of actual footage of the Battle of Tarawa, however the United States Marine Corps refused to cooperate with the producers due to the theme of an officer out for glory killing his own men and a sergeant out for revenge.
Kerwin Mathews as Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Thomas A. 'Tom' Sloan
Julie Adams as Ruth Nelson Campbell
Ray Danton as Lieutenant (later Captain) Joel Brady