War, Drama | 106 | Released: 1957
Director: Jack Webb
Starring: Jack Webb, Don Dubbins, Jackie Loughery, Lin McCarthy, Monica Lewis, Virginia Gregg, Jeannie Beacham
Our Rating: 7
Black & White
In The D.I., Technical Sergeant Jim Moore (Jack Webb), a Drill Instructor on Parris Island, has a thorn in his side, Private Owens (Don Dubbins), who always caves in when the pressure is on. Convinced he can make Owens into a Marine, Moore pushes Owens to the point of desertion.
Barrett’s screenplay for The D.I. expanded the play by introducing subplots of Moore having a romance with a local shop girl (played by Webb’s real wife of the time Jackie Loughery) and having Owens’ mother (Virginia Gregg) make a trip to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to beg the Corps to keep her son in order to make a man out of him.
Following the Ribbon Creek incident that took place at Parris Island on the night of April 8, 1956, the Marine Corps was deluged for requests from various producers to make films exploiting the incident. Unlike many producers seeking to make exploitation films about Marine Corps brutality, Jack Webb based his treatment on a teleplay by former Marine James Lee Barrett The Murder of a Sand Flea broadcast on the Kraft Television Theatre on 10 October 1956 with Lin McCarthy repeating his role. As the screenplay made no mention of the incident of Ribbon Creek and gave a positive view of the Marine Corps, the Marines enthusiastically cooperated with Webb providing many technical advisers and actual Marines to appear in the film as Marines. Portions of the film were shot at Camp Pendleton, California. The film premiered at Parris Island in May 1957 and was shown during the training of Marine Corps Drill Instructors; as Webb’s Drill Instructor neither used profanity or physically struck his recruits. Singer Monica Lewis provided a musical interlude, performing the provocative song “(If’n You Don’t) Somebody Else Will,” backed by the Ray Conniff orchestra and chorus, which was released as a single by Columbia Records.