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They Were Expendable (1945)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War  |  20 December 1945 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,397 users  
Reviews: 78 user | 26 critic

A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines in World War II.


(as John Ford Captain U.S.N.R.) , (uncredited)


(book), (screenplay) (as Frank Wead Comdr. U.S.N. {Ret}) , 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. John Brickley (as Robert Montgomery Comdr. U.S.N.R.)
Lt. (J.G.) 'Rusty' Ryan
Ens. 'Snake' Gardner
Ens. 'Andy' Andrews
Major James Morton
Arthur Walsh ...
Seaman Jones
Lt. (J.G.) 'Shorty' Long / Radio Announcer
Ens. George Cross
Jeff York ...
Ens. Tony Aiken
Murray Alper ...
'Slug' Mahan T.M. 1c
Harry Tenbrook ...
'Squarehead' Larsen SC 2c
Jack Pennick ...


Shortly after Pearl Harbor, a squadron of PT-boat crews in the Philipines must battle the Navy brass between skirmishes with the Japanese. The title says it all about the Navy's attitude towards the PT-boats and their crews. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Book That Thrilled Millions See more »


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 December 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fuimos los sacrificados  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Wayne later recalled the re-creation of an intense chapter in Navy history, the evacuation of General MacArthur and his family from the Philippines. As Wayne related, "there were a number of top Navy brass at the location, and there were quite a few disparaging remarks like 'This is where the old bastard ran out' and that sort of thing. But by God, when the scene started and the guy who was playing MacArthur walked out... you could see the look in their eyes change. Jack had created such a sense of awe that even among these Navy men there was a feeling of respect for this man." See more »


During the torpedo runs, the camera boat wake is visible next to the PT boats. See more »


'Slug' Mahan T.M. 1c: Mr. Ryan, this has gone far enough! That 41 boat is always hoggin' the good jobs, sir.
Seaman Jones: We'll get all the soaking we need on our way up to hit the Japs, sir.
'Squarehead' Larsen SC 2c: What are we gonna do, sit around on our duffs till they get back, sir?
Ens. 'Snake' Gardner: 41 can't handle this job alone... sir.
Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: How about it, sir?
Lt. John Brickley: Okay. But if she starts taking water, turn back. Sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing quote: "We Shall Return" Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army See more »


Featured in Directed by John Ford (1971) See more »


Red River Valley
Instrumental version heard when Dad is left alone to meet the oncoming Japanese.
See more »

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User Reviews

A film about following orders no matter how painful
31 January 2002 | by (Hartlepool England) – See all my reviews

One reveiwer critices this film about lack of action he misses the point,all the characters are well developed which makes the ending so painfull. The acting is first rate every part is played with a great belief,,there are so many great scenes that touch the heart.The men are bonded together by their actions and when the bonds are broken through death or orders it hurts us all. Donna Reed is gorgeous to look at ,only a small role but well acted. At the end of the film you feel a lump in your throat and a tear forms in your eye,I love this movie.9/10

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