Thin Red Line, The (1998)

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The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line is the 1998 World War II film directed by Terrence Malick and is the second movie adaptation of the James Jones novel, the first being a 1964 film of the same name. This film features a very accurate, almost complete arsenal of genuine WWII Japanese weapons, a stark contrast to the original film where not a single Japanese weapon was seen. The film is a fictional account of an engagement by the US Army to capture an entrenched Japanese position during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. The majority of the film was shot in Queensland, Australia, in the South Pacific, far more accurate to the location of the Solomon Islands than the original film's filming in Spain. One of the notable characters in the film is Cpt. Staros (Elias Koteas), an intelligent, sensitive Army captain who refuses to send his men to their certain death on a futile frontal assault on a fortified Japanese position, which puts him at odds with the ambitious Lt. Col. Tall (Nick Nolte). Other notable characters include the cynical and shrewd 1st. Sgt Welsh (Sean Penn), Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin) who is heavily devoted to his wife, and Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel), a deserter who hates the Army, but loves the men of Charlie Company enough to rejoin them during the battle. The film's title derives a quote from Jones's book which reads, "they discover the thin red line that divides the sane from the mad... and the living from the dead..." Despite its seven Academy Award nominations, this film is often overlooked due to its release in the same year as Steven Spielberg's World War II film Saving Private Ryan.

The following weapons were used in the film The Thin Red Line:


Allied Weapons


M1 Garand

The M1 Garand is the primary rifle of Charlie Company in the film and is used by Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel), Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin), Pvt. Coombs (Matt Doran), Pfc. Beade (Nick Stahl), Pvt. Ash (Thomas Jane) and Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok).

M1 Garand - .30-06.
Pfc. Beade (Nick Stahl) holds the M1 Garand as Charlie Company lands on the beach on Guadalcanal.
Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) fires his M1 Garand at Japanese soldiers on the hill top.
Over-the-shoulder view of Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) firing his M1 Garand.
Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel) and another soldier fire their M1 Garands.
Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin) with his M1 Garand.
Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) fires his M1 Garand.
Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel) fires his M1 Garand during the assault on Hill 262.
Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin) with his M1 Garand during the assault on Hill 262.
Close-up of an empty M1 Garand chamber.
Two soldiers cover a Japanese prisoner with M1 Garands.
Pvt. Coombs (Matt Doran) with an M1 Garand.
Pvt. Ash (Thomas Jane) with the M1 Garand resting on his leg while holding an M1911A1.
M1 Garand with M1 bayonet - .30-06
Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin) fires his M1 Garand, fitted with a bayonet.
Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel) shoots a charging Japanese soldier with his M1 Garand, fitted with a bayonet, during the assault on the village.

M1 Carbine

M1 Carbine rifles are used by the sergeants and officers in the film including Sgt. Keck (Woody Harrelson), Sgt. McCron (John Savage), Cpt. Gaff (John Cusack), Cpt. Staros (Elias Koteas), and 2nd Lt. Whyte (Jared Leto).

M1 Carbine - .30 Carbine.
Capt. Staros (Elias Koteas) has an M1 Carbine slung over his back. Note the carbine has on the barrel an anachronistic bayonet lug found on the M1 from the Korean War and on.
2nd Lt. Whyte (Jared Leto) with an M1 Carbine. Note how the officer second to the right has a mark on his helmet, which indicates he peeled off the insignia - common practice to avoid being targeted by snipers. No other officer in the film wears insignia.
Capt. Staros (Elias Koteas) with his M1 Carbine.
Sgt. McCron (John Savage) contemplates the loss of his entire squad with his M1 Carbine rested on his shoulder.
Cpt. Gaff (John Cusack) with his M1 Carbine.
Cpt. Gaff (John Cusack) fires his M1 Carbine at Japanese soldiers.

Submachine Guns

M1928A1 Thompson

M1928A1 Thompsons are carried by Pvt. Dale (Arie Verveen), 1st Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn), Sgt. Storm (John C. Reilly) among other US soldiers.

M1928A1 Thompson - .45 ACP.
Sgt. Storm (John C. Reilly) with an M1928A1 Thompson.
1st Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn) searches the tall grass with his M1928A1 Thompson at the ready.
Pvt. Dale (Arie Verveen) with an M1928A1 Thompson.
Pvt. Dale (Arie Verveen) firing his Thompson.
1st Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn) fires his Thompson during the assault on Hill 262.
1st Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn) wades through the river carrying his Thompson.

Machine Guns

Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2

Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) keeps a Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2 slung over his back, which he carries along with his Winchester 1897. Pvt. Sico (Robert Roy Hofmo) also carries one before he fakes sickness to avoid combat.

Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2 - .30-06.
Pvt. Sico (Robert Roy Hofmo) clutches a Browning Automatic Rifle.
Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) with a Browning Automatic Rifle slung over his back as Cpl. Fife (Adrien Brody) looks up.
Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) with his BAR, now with his Winchester slung on his back.
A soldier to the right lugs a BAR over his shoulders.


Winchester 1897

Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) is seen using a Winchester 1897 shotgun, along with a BAR, although he is seen firing the Winchester rather then the BAR.

Winchester 1897 Trench - 12 Gauge.
Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) with his Winchester 1897 shotgun in the high grass.
Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) orders Japanese soldiers out of a bunker with his Winchester 1897 shotgun.
Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) holds his Winchester 1897 shotgun on Japanese prisoners.
Cpl. Queen (David Harrod) fires his Winchester 1897 shotgun at a Japanese soldier in a tree.



Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) steals an M1911A1 hanging from a bunk in the ship carrying Charlie Company to the island. He notably uses it when he charges a Japanese machine gun emplacement and fires it at them. Basically, every other US soldier also has an M1911A1 as their sidearm, although only a few soldiers such as Captain Gaff (John Cusack) are seen using them.

M1911A1 - .45 ACP.
An M1911A1 and holster hanging off a bunk before being stolen by Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok).
Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) fires the M1911A1 at a Japanese machine gun emplacement.
Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) fires the M1911A1 at charging Japanese soldiers.
In a deleted scene, Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) fires his M1911A1 in the air.
Capt. Bosche's (George Clooney) holstered Colt during the last briefing.


M1A1 Flamethrower

A US soldier is seen holding an M1A1 Flamethrower after Hill 262 is captured. He later uses it to torch the camp.

M1A1 Flamethrower.
A US soldier in the background to the left is seen holding an M1A1 Flamethrower.
The soldier uses his Flamethrower to torch a straw hut.

MK II Hand Grenade

Several US soldiers are seen using MK II Hand Grenades in the film. At one point we see Sgt. Keck (Woody Harrelson) straightening the folds on the pin of his grenade, which proves to be a fatal mistake on his behalf when the pin pulls too easily while still attached to his belt.

MK II hand grenade.
A MK II grenade hanging on Capt. Staros' (Elias Koteas) jacket.
A MK II grenade hanging on Pvt. Sico's (Robert Roy Hofmo) jacket as he fakes sickness to avoid fighting.
Sgt. Keck (Woody Harrelson) tries to pull an MK II grenade off his belt but grabs it by the pin. By straightening the pin's folds which hold it in place better, the pin pulled out all too easily. Note how the spoon is flying off.
Sgt. Keck (Woody Harrelson) realizes how screwed he is.

Oerlikon 20mm Cannon

On the ship under the command of Brig. Gen. Quintard (John Travolta) is a pair of Oerlikon 20mm Cannon mounted on a Mk 20 Mod 2 gun mount.

Twin Mark 4 Oerlikon L70 cannons in a Mark 24 mounting with Mark 14 Gyro Gunsight - 20x110mm RB. Note markings on left-handed snail drum.
A pair of Oerlikon 20mm cannons. The left-hand drum incorrectly has no markings.

Bofors 40mm

On the ship under the command of Brig. Gen. Quintard (John Travolta) is a Bofors 40mm twin mount.

Bofors 40mm L/60 twin mounting - 40×311mmR
Twin Mounted Bofors Gun circled in red.
Bofors 40mm L/60 AA gun in a wheeled trailer mounting - 40x311mmR
The wheeled trailer mounting Bofors on the right next to Capt. Bosche.

M101A1 Howitzer

US soldiers fire M101A1 Howitzers during the attack on Hill 210

M101A1 Howitzer - 105x372mm
US soldiers fire the Howitzer.
The Howitzer in the background.

Axis Weapons


Arisaka Type 38

Japanese soldiers are seen mainly using Arisaka Type 38 rifles.

Arisaka Type 38 - 6.5x50mm.
Japanese soldiers with Arisaka Type 38 rifles.
A Japanese soldier with an Arisaka Type 38 with fixed Type 30 bayonet.
Another Japanese soldier gunned down with an Arisaka Type 38.
US soldiers exchange Arisakas for goods.
A Japanese soldier fires his Ariskaka Type 38.

Arisaka Type 99

Some Japanese soldiers are seen using Arisaka Type 99 rifles with monopod.

Arisaka Type 99 battle rifle with monopod - 7.7x58mm.
An unused Arisaka Type 99 lays at the top of a trench at Hill 262.
A Japanese soldier firing an Arisaka Type 99.
A Japanese soldier fires his Arisaka Type 99 at Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel) as he flees.
A Japanese soldier holds his Arisaka Type 99 on Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel) trying to surrender him.

Machine Guns

Nambu Type 96

The Nambu Type 96 Light Machine Gun is used by Japanese soldiers

Type 96 Light Machine Gun (minus magazine) - 6.5x50mm Arisaka.
A Japanese soldier fires a Nambu Type 96 through a smoke-screen.
A Japanese soldier tries to defend Hill 262 from the American assault.

Nambu Type 99

Japanese soldiers are also seen using Nambu Type 99 Light Machine Guns in the film.

Nambu Type 99 Light Machine Gun - 7.7x58mm.
A Japanese soldier fires a Nambu Type 99 from the machine gun emplacement.
A Japanese soldier goes Rambo and fires a Nambu Type 99 from the machine gun emplacement.

Nambu Type 3

Japanese soldiers are seen using Nambu Type 3 Heavy Machine Guns in the film.

Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun - 6.5x50mm SR
A Nambu Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun looking out of a machine gun emplacement on Hill 262.
A Japanese soldier prepares to fire a Nambu Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun at the Americans.
The Japanese soldier firing his Nambu Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun before being overrun.
Japanese soldiers carry a Nambu Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun through the forest. Note the feed strips.


Nambu Type 14

The issued sidearm of the Japanese Imperial Army is the Nambu Type 14 Pistol. One soldier is seen using it to commit suicide when refusing capture after Hill 262 is taken. Later in the film, we see Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) showing off a Nambu pistol to fellow soldiers in a personnel transport truck, likely taken off a dead Japanese soldier on the Hill.

Nambu Type 14 - 8mm.
A Japanese soldier shoots himself in the chest with his Nambu Type 14 pistol.
Pfc. Doll (Dash Mihok) shows off a captured Nambu Type 14 pistol and his chums are celebrating, all except a glum-looking Sgt. Becker (Don Harvey) on the far right.


Type 97 Hand Grenade

Japanese soldiers use Type 97 Hand Grenades.

Type 97 High-Explosive Fragmentation Hand Grenade
A Japanese soldier doesn't want to surrender and prepares to commit suicide.

Type 98 20mm AA/AT Gun

A 20mm Japanese Type 98 AA/AT gun is seen in the Japanese camp during the assault on Hill 262.

Type 98 AA gun at the Chinese People's Revolution Military Museum in Beijing - 20x142mm
The Type 98 AA/AT gun is seen on the left as Pvt Bell shots a Japanese soldier attacking him with a Katana.

Type 97 81mm Infantry Mortar

The Type 97 Mortar is seen on Hill 262.

Type 97 81-mm Infantry Mortar.
The Mortar in the background.

Type 38 75mm Field Gun

A Type 38 75mm field gun is also seen on Hill 262.

Type 38 75 mm Field Gun.
The field gun on the right.
The gun behind Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Tall (Nick Nolte).