7.3/10
6,001
82 user 27 critic

They Were Expendable (1945)

Approved | | Drama, War | 20 December 1945 (USA)
A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines in World War II.

Directors:

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

Writers:

(book), (screenplay) (as Frank Wead Comdr. U.S.N. {Ret})
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON TV
ON DISC
ALL
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1942, after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese, U.S. Army Col. Joseph Madden stays behind to organize the local resistance against the Japanese invaders.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: John Wayne, Anthony Quinn, Beulah Bondi
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Construction workers in World War II in the Pacific are needed to build military sites, but the work is dangerous and they doubt the ability of the Navy to protect them. After a series of ... See full summary »

Director: Edward Ludwig
Stars: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Dennis O'Keefe
Drama | War | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Don Taylor
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A biography of Navy flier-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Wead.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Dan Dailey
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During WWII, a submarine's second in command inherits the problem of torpedoes that don't explode. When on shore, he is eager to win back his ex-wife.

Director: George Waggner
Stars: John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Ward Bond
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A dramatization of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara
Flying Tigers (1942)
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Capt. Jim Gordon's command of the famed American mercenary fighter group in China is complicated by the recruitment of an old friend who is a reckless hotshot.

Director: David Miller
Stars: John Wayne, John Carroll, Anna Lee
Fort Apache (1948)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple
3 Godfathers (1948)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

When 3 outlaws on the run find a dying woman and her newborn baby in the desert they vow to save the child.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz, Harry Carey Jr.
Adventure | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers
Rio Grande (1950)
Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cavalry officer posted on the Rio Grande must deal with murderous raiding Apaches, his son who's a risk-taking recruit and his wife from whom he has been separated for many years.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ben Johnson
Edit

Cast

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
...
'Slug' Mahan T.M. 1c
...
'Squarehead' Larsen SC 2c
Jack Pennick ...
'Doc'
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

M-G-M Presents one of the Greatest Pictures of all Time See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 December 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Schnellboote vor Bataan  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Near the end of filming, John Ford broke his leg when he fell 20 feet off a scaffold. While Ford spent two weeks in traction in the hospital, Robert Montgomery directed the remaining scenes - mainly inserts for the battle sequences. When shooting wrapped, Ford returned to his Field Photographic Unit in Europe, just in time to cross the Rhine with Allied forces at war's end. See more »

Goofs

Obvious clock faux pas! -- In one of the opening scenes Naval, Marine, and a few Army officers along with uniformed sailors are seen in a civilian night club. The locale is "Cavite" just 'south' of the Philippine capital of Manila.

The Naval Officers are conspicuous in the wearing of "dress whites"- as opposed to khakis, and the women seen are all in evening attire. The setting clearly appears to be after hours' "cocktails" - not earlier dinner, and thereby places the time-frame at about 8pm local time plus-or-minus an hour or so. This scene is interrupted by a civilian making the FIRST announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The attack at Pearl commenced at\between 7:48 to 7:55am Hawaiian time - sources vary. Time-wise there is an 8-hour 'negative' differential from Hawaii to the Philippines making that nominally 12:52AM - the wee-small hours of the morning and certainly not evening. Historically the first information about the attack WAS known by the Military throughout the Philippines starting roughly minutes after attacked had started via multiple receptions of the famous "Air Raid Pearl harbor, this is No Drill" radio message also picked-up by the Navy & War Depts. in WDC! (In fact, midnight hour "atmospherics" would have favored clearer reception at Manila far better than anywhere on the east coast of the US mainland.) Therefore the scene is simply a propaganda ploy or if preferred, "dramatic license" on the part of the Director (John Ford) and at the time of the movie's release all too obvious to Vets & civilians alike. See more »

Quotes

Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: Are you kidding, Brick?
Lt. John Brickley: Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do...
Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: And die... but I don't want to be bored to death running messages!
Lt. John Brickley: I'll see that you get the more intriguing ones.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Manila Bay In the Year of Our Lord Nineteen hundred and Forty-one See more »

Connections

Edited into Malaya (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

You're in the Army Now
(uncredited)
Music by Isham Jones and lyrics by Tell Taylor and Ole Olsen
[Instrumental version heard when the boat crews march off to be secunded into the army.]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
One of the Greatest War Films
1 January 1999 | by (Hollywood) – See all my reviews

I have very strong feelings about this film. As a baby boomer, I have always felt that mine and future generations owe an eternal debt to those who didn't come back.

One way of acknowledging this debt is the way we watch war films, not as bloody spectacles but as tributes and reminders.

And what kind of tribute and reminder is "They Were Expendable"? Consider the rueful irony of the title. Such a sentiment is quite uncharacteristic of director John Ford's other work, especially his westerns (possibly excepting "Fort Apache"), which border on jingoism. Yes, there's a scene that's pretty hard to take: When the boats are detailed to take MacArthur out of harm's way, Ford tries to make out like they're rescuing Lincoln, complete with "Battle Hymn of the Republic" soundtrack. Today we know MacArthur as an overrated blow-hard, but 1945 was too early to see past the hype. And yes, there's some of the usual Ford corn-ball and the familiar Ford players, with John Wayne and Ward Bond doing their thing. But then, there's the great Robert Montgomery, who did active duty (unlike Wayne), and I truly believe he was playing this film, both as actor and co-director, straight from the heart. You can see it in a scene in which he realizes his duty means his death. Much of that scene is shot in shadow, but paradoxically the darkness serves to enhance Montgomery's underplayed emotions. The emotions are similar when Montgomery and Wayne are later confronted with an order that saves their lives but dooms their men.

Implicit in the belief that war is sometimes necessary is the inevitability of some of the most excruciating moral dilemmas imaginable. And when I see these dilemmas imposed on men and women, boys and girls, demanding their lives in payment for their sacred honor, I'm humbled beyond words.

Life magazine used to do huge layouts of kids killed in World War II combat. When I look at these faces and think of the words "They Were Expendable," I . . .


61 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?