|Baby Blue Marine|
|Directed by||John D. Hancock|
(as John Hancock)
|Written by||Stanford Whitmore|
|Produced by||Leonard Goldberg|
(as Laszlo Kovacs)
|Edited by||Marion Rothman|
|Music by||Fred Karlin|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Baby Blue Marine is a 1976 American drama film set during World War II that was directed by John D. Hancock and starring Jan-Michael Vincent. The feature film was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg.
Marion “Hedge” Hedgepeth, a Marine recruit during World War II, washes out in recruit training in San Diego. He is sent home in an unadorned baby blue uniform, leftover military surplus, as most recruits sent their civilian clothes home, thus the derogatory designation Baby Blue Marine.
Traveling by bus to his home in St. Louis, Hedge meets a Marine Raider veteran at a stopover. The young, battle-scarred, and highly decorated Marine has aged beyond his years with prematurely gray hair. As the Raider does not wish to return to the war, he knocks out Hedge and trades uniforms with him.
Now penniless, with only the Raider uniform for clothing, Hedge hitchhikes towards St. Louis. He enters the idyllic small town of Bidwell, California, below Mount Shasta. His uniform’s decorations and Raider shoulder-sleeve insignia make him a hero to the community, whose own young men are away at the war.
At the local diner, Hedge is befriended by waitress Rose, a recent high-school graduate, and Mr. Elmore, a local who lost his son in the attack on Pearl Harbor. He also meets Army Private Danny Phelps, a local who just finished basic training and is awaiting assignment to the army typing pool.
Rose invites Hedge to stay with her family for a few days, where Hedge bunks with her brother, Barney. Rose and Hedge fall in love, and he eventually tells her the truth of his story, saying that he has chosen to stay quiet because he does not want the real Raider to get in trouble for deserting.
When three American-born teenaged boys escape from a local Japanese American internment camp, the camp’s small and inexperienced army troop is joined by the locals in searching the woods. Mr. Elmore reminds everyone that these are young American citizens, but some of the locals, particularly Private Phelps, seem hellbent on killing the "Japs".
Hedge finds the boys first, and they admit that they are sick of being unfairly held and are (naively) trying to get home to San Francisco. Phelps spots the scene from a nearby ridge and shoots, hitting Hedge, who falls into the rapids of a rushing mountain stream. The Japanese-American boys, aided by Mr. Elmore and a repentant Phelps, barely save the heavily bleeding Hedge from drowning. Thinking he might die, Hedge tells Rose to tell everyone his true story.
When the war ends, Hedge returns to Bidwell and Rose, having served as a corporal under General Patton in the U.S. Third Army.
Vincent also stars in Tribes, another film that features the Marine Corps.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 2½ out of 4 stars.