From director Allan Dwan, Sands of Iwo Jima is a drama set during the Second World War and follows John Stryker (John Wayne), a relentlessly tough Marine sergeant as he trains a squad of naïve, rebellious recruits at a New Zealand military station in 1943. Recently left by his wife, Stryker has become exceedingly bitter and tough, leading his contemporaries to question his behavior and his men to dislike him for his harsh training methods. The wisdom of Stryker's ways, however, is demonstrated when they fight in the legendary battle of Iwo Jima. Using footage of real WWII battles, the Sands of Iwo Jima features John Wayne's first Academy Award-nominated performance, though Broderick Crawford ultimately won the 1950 Best Actor prize.
~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide