7.3/10
5,896
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 DISC
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
    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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

In a scene on the docks, a ship named the Lucien P. Libby is in the background. In the biography "John Ford: A Bio-bibliography" by Bill Levy, there is a reference to John Ford being influenced by two teachers during his four years at Portland High School. One was an English teacher, Lucien Libby, who "helped the boy with his writing, encouraged Ford's reading, and stimulated thinking with witty comic teaching." See more »

Goofs

Both American aircraft shown in the film (a Piper J5A observation plane and a Douglas C-47 transport) carry the national insignia markings of a white star in a blue roundel, which was authorized on August 18, 1942. This is incorrect for the period depicted in the film (early December 1941 through late April 1942), when U.S. insignia was a white star inside a blue roundel with a red ball in the middle of the white star. 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

Featured in The John Wayne Anthology (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Anchors Aweigh
(uncredited)
Written by Charles A. Zimmerman (music) & Alfred Hart Miles (lyrics)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Memorable, slow-paced World War II film with fine performances from Robert Montgomery, John Wayne and Donna Reed with excellent direction by John Ford.
15 December 1999 | by (Lansing, Michigan) – See all my reviews

This is a memorable war film. Unlike other war films which depict glamorous battles, brutal campaigns and heroic exploits, this film focuses on average sailors who are merely doing a job. This often touching story is sandwiched around the real life escape of General and Mrs. McArthur from Corregidor at the beginning of World War II. The film does a good job portraying the collapse of American and Fillipino resistance in late 1941 and early 1942. The war is going badly, and this film does not try to sugar coat it. General Martin's character (played by Jack Holt) articulates this well at the end of the film. "The end is near here", he says.

John Wayne plays Rusty, a somewhat disgruntled officer who is unhappy about serving on a patrol torpedo (PT) boat. "Plywood dreams", he calls them in one scene. The fortunes of war intervene and Rusty and his comrades must fight the invading Japanese. Wayne's performance is memorable here, because it is uncharacteristic of his work. Wayne is not the macho heroic fighter that we see in most of his other war films. Here he is a professional sailor doing his job the best he knows how. At the end he predictably tries to be a hero, but star Robert Montgomery polites reminds him that there are other priorities. "Who are you fighting for", he asks. Wayne's character has depth. Uncharacteristically for Wayne he is even a little unsure of himself at times. This is particularly evident in his relationship with the young nurse played by Donna Reed. This is a different Wayne.

Robert Montgomery's performance as the commander of the squadron is also first rate. Like Wayne he is a professional who wants to do his job. The burden of command falls on him as he begs, cajoles and even blackmails fellow sailors to put his PT's in the war. Montgomery's performance is understated, credible and moving. It may be his best work.

This film is a collection of images. The destruction at Subic Bay in a Japanese air strike comes the closest to graphic violence of any scene in the movie. Instead of bodies, we see fires, smoke, debris and the faces of dazed servicemen and civilians. In another scene Wayne and Montgomery stand on a long dock stretching out into an empty inlet. "Are you looking for the Arizona, too," Rusty asks. The scenes depicting the escape of the McArthur's are well staged and realistic. The scenes of the defeated American army retreating on Mindanao show graphically that the war is not going well. The last image in the film with the last American plane to leave the Phillipines flying over a tropical beach at sunset is one of the most memorable in any war film. The words "I shall return" which appear on the screen are trite and unnecessary. Director John Ford has created a collage of memorable images here.

This film is slow paced for a war film, but it works. There is sufficient action, but there are interludes of peace and tranquility. There is a candlelight dinner for Rusty and his girl. There are a few moments near the end in a bar. In another scene Wayne visits with an elderly shipwright. The journey with the McArthurs provides another appropriate interlude in the middle of the film. There are even light moments interspersed. In one of these Marshal Thompson is inspecting the galley and asks derisively "What kind of soup is this?" When told it's not soup but dishwater he goes quickly to his next stop.

This is a simple story of fighting men doing a job that isn't considered particularly important. John Ford's excellent direction turns these mundane moments into one of the most memorable war films ever. Star Robert Montgomery even had a chance to direct in this film when Ford was injured in a fall. I liked this film and would recommend it without reservations.


16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Director Ford dissed Wayne during filming jjj58205-1
Tune steve@mx21.tiki.ne.jp
This Movie is Brilliant! Friesen_471
Swifts? markann-2
the true story remkus
Sabotaged PT Boat olympiaea
Discuss They Were Expendable (1945) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?