Jumping on Grenades
September 6, 2005 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm hunting for any cinematic instances of soldiers pig-piling on grenades to save their buddies. It seems to me there should probably be one or two classic instances in order for the cliche to have taken root. Anyone?
posted by Hobbacocka to Media & Arts (22 answers total)
The Thin Red Line has a guy throw himself on his own grenade when he fucks up the pin pull.
posted by dobbs at 5:38 PM on September 6, 2005

There was an incredible story near the beginning of the Iraq war where some guy threw his helmet on a grenade and then fell on top of it to protect his crew. He died and they lived. Very poignant. I will see if I can find a link. It was on Metafilter, I think.
posted by caddis at 5:44 PM on September 6, 2005

There was an episode of The Simpsons where Grandpa was telling Bart about his days with The Fighting Hellfish in WWII, and they show him jumping on top of his helmet on top of a live grenade.
posted by scallion at 5:44 PM on September 6, 2005

A true hero. I wept the first time I read this, and I am weeping now. God bless you Cpl. Dunham.
posted by caddis at 5:53 PM on September 6, 2005

Sorry, but real life beats cinema any day.
posted by caddis at 5:55 PM on September 6, 2005

Yeah, maybe it's not really a movie cliché, but instead an idea borne from the stories of Medal of Honor recipients. Here's one I looked up recently.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:12 PM on September 6, 2005

I am still scouring the internets for the movie stuff but this is real from 1965.
posted by nj_subgenius at 6:16 PM on September 6, 2005

The Boys in Company C has it.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:37 PM on September 6, 2005

This is a little off-topic as it's a book but in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried he writes about these type of inidents in a story called How to Tell a True War Story. Worth checking out as the book is a classic.
posted by captainscared at 7:02 PM on September 6, 2005

Believe it or not, the first example that sprung to mind was Childs Play 3. You know, the one set in the military high school. One of the main character's buddies jumps on a grenade to save him.
posted by brundlefly at 7:02 PM on September 6, 2005

Chocolate Mousse did it in the Zucker film Top Secret!

Naturally he was fine; everyone else in the room blew up (ha..ha.. ha.)
posted by ernie at 8:06 PM on September 6, 2005

There was a television show from the late 80's called Tour of Duty, that took place in Vietnam. A black soldier threw himself on a grenade to save the life of other (white) soldiers. The rest of the episode revovled around the sacrifice he made. I believe it was in the first or second season.
posted by googlebombed at 10:46 PM on September 6, 2005

I wouldn't call it a cliche, I saw it happen in Viet Nam. There were four Montagnard soldiers sitting in a clear spot waiting for a helicopter. A grenade slipped off one of the solders webbings and one of his buddies just quietly laid his body on top of it. Even though his friends remained sitting and were no more than a couple of feet away when the grenade went off, the only one hurt was that young Montagnard soldier. It was a very quiet heroism, but I am sure that his friends never forgot him.
posted by phewbertie at 1:12 AM on September 7, 2005

Medal of Honor recipient (posthumous) Sgt. Rodney M. Davis, from the Vietnam War.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:05 AM on September 7, 2005

Out of curiosity, don't grenades have detonation overrides, usually in the form of a flush-mount handle? Or are those only to delay activation, but once the detonation sequence begins, it's impossible to override?

And phewbertie: while heroic, couldn't he simply have thrown the grenade somewhere else? Or was there not enough time?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:26 AM on September 7, 2005

Also re: Tour of Duty, there was an episode when some musicians were performing and had to travel overland with the soldiers, and one of the musicians jumped on an enemy grenade to save the others.
posted by zachxman at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2005

One of my least favorite episodes of Red Dwarf, "Emohawk", has a scene where the hard-light hologram Rimmer leaps on a "grenade" (the polymorph) to save his shipmates.
posted by jozxyqk at 9:19 AM on September 7, 2005

Land of the Dead apparently has a variant. And there's this episode of Police Squad:
Mrs Twice: Poor Ralph. And what about my daughter. What am I gonna tell her?

Ed: Yeah, you are gonna have to tell her something. Tell her he went on a long trip.

Frank: No, wait a minute. How about a big monster came and took him to Daddy Heaven. No.

Ed: What about this: He threw himself on a grenade to save the battalion. Yeah, that's it.

Frank: No, no, wait a minute. He was killed by left-wing insurgents from Paraguay. No, Bolivia.

Ed: I got it. He was traded to the Cubs for Reggie Jackson.

Mrs Twice: [Cries louder and louder.]
The Boys in Company C has it.
Good movie, which also beautifully illustrates why it's a major bummer if you're walking through a rice paddy and you hear a click.

posted by kirkaracha at 10:05 AM on September 7, 2005

Made for TV movie, Longest Hundred Miles (1967) with Doug McClure, Ricardo Montalban, and Katharine Ross. From IMDB: "During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, an assorted group of refugees, including an American soldier, an Army nurse, a priest and a group of local children, try to make their getaway aboard a rattletrap, creaky bus."

Someone throws themself on a grenade. I think it's a friendly Phillipino soldier, but can't remember for sure.

Haven't seen the movie in years.
posted by marsha56 at 10:17 AM on September 7, 2005

Hobbacocka, I suggest you look in the direction of WW2 movies. The cliché's roots are most likely in that war. According to this page,
In "Experiments with N-Person Social Traps I" (Journal of Conflict Resolution, 32 (1988) p475-72. ) Anatole Rapoprt notes that "In the US Infantry Manual published during World War II soldiers were told what to do if a live grenade fell into the trench where he and ohthers were sitting: to wrap himslf around the grenade so as at least to save the others. (If no one "volunteered," all would be killed, and there were only a few seconds to decide who would be the hero.)"
Sorry, but real life beats cinema any day.

Caddis, try reading the question. The asker is looking for "cinematic instances." The question is in the "media & arts" category. Furthermore, as the asker specified that he or she wanted "classic instances", your suggestion from the Iraq war seems totally out of place. Are you arguing that a cinematic cliche, whose roots, as dobbs point out, extend at least to 1964, was somehow inspired by a tragic event in 2004? At least people suggesting parodies like The Simpons or Red Dwarf are providing examples that clearly echo earlier cinematic sources.
Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer.
Your comments do this how, caddis?

posted by jbrjake at 11:32 AM on September 7, 2005

I guess he could have thrown the grenade, there was open ground. You don't have much time, though. As I remember, they blow in about 4 seconds. Situations like that--you have no idea what you would do unless you face it.

In regards to another question, grenades have a pin and a handle. If you are holding the grenade after you pull the pin, it won't go off until you release your grip on the handle. You could at this point replace the pin. However, odd as it may see, we carried the damn thing hooked by the pin to clips on our webbing, and if the pin slipped out the handle would immediately fly off and there is no stopping it at that point.
posted by phewbertie at 3:52 AM on September 8, 2005

Perhaps Caddis was reacting to the word "cliche" as was I. Somehow, describing such an act as a cliche seemed to invite some discussion.
posted by phewbertie at 3:59 AM on September 8, 2005

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