7.3/10
6,335
86 user 28 critic

They Were Expendable (1945)

Approved | | Drama, War | 31 December 1945 (USA)
The PT boat unit Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three defends the Philippines from Japanese invasion during World War II.

Directors:

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

Writers:

(book), (screenplay) (as Frank Wead Comdr. U.S.N. {Ret})
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
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A biography of Navy flier-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Read.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lt. John Brickley (as Robert Montgomery Comdr. U.S.N.R.)
...
...
...
General Martin
...
...
...
...
Major James Morton
Arthur Walsh ...
...
...
Ens. George Cross
...
Ens. Tony Aiken
...
...
Jack Pennick ...
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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:

The Book That Thrilled Millions See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 December 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Schnellboote vor Bataan  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

In the bar scene after the funeral for Squarehead Larsen and Slug Mahan, the radio station playing music and announcing the fall of Bataan is identified as WBKR San Francisco. Stations with call signs beginning with W are in the eastern US. WBKR is currently assigned to an FM station in Owensboro, KY. See more »

Quotes

Lt. John Brickley: Oh, Snuffy... how about getting some torpedoes from you?
Submarine commander: For those cracker boxes of yours? No telling when we'll see a mother ship again.
Lt. John Brickley: How long have you been on patrol?
Submarine commander: Since the day the war started.
Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: What did you get?
Submarine commander: Two small freighters. We had hard luck.
Lt. John Brickley: Well, while you've been cruising around the Pacific, those 'cracker boxes' have sunk two converted cruisers, an auxiliary aircraft carrier, a 10,000-ton tanker, a large freighter, a flock of barges and numerous sons of Nippon!
Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: And also in...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in Five Came Back: The Price of Victory (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

The Monkeys Have No Tails in Zamboanga
(uncredited)
Music adapted from the official march of the Philippine Constabulary
Written by by G. Savoca (lyrics)
[Sung in the officer's club at the beginning of the movie.]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Gem
14 July 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Very few, if any, WW2 films are better than this. I first saw it several years ago on a wet miserable Saturday afternoon in winter and subsequently taped it at the next showing. I have seen it several times since then.

Despite not living through this difficult time I can imagine it capturing how the US forces felt in the early days of the Pacific war. As the film states, these are the men who laid down the initial sacrifice that others built on. They were no doubt aware of this, and that escape before the Japanese arrived was their only real chance of survival.

John Ford created a basically solemn film in keeping with the times. Action is pretty minimal but this does not detract from the film at all. Solid performances from all the caste and one of John Wayne's best performances. Some of the action sequences could have been better (but it was made over 50 years ago), a bit too much of men jumping on and off MTB's, and the dinner scene between Wayne and Donna Reed did nothing for me. A downbeat ending with some crew going off to help plan for later battles and others marching off to almost certain death, but it is in keeping with what the US forces faced at the time.

Recent good WW2 films such as Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line show what can be achieved now with a big budget and huge technical advances, but it doesn't make them any better than this film.

I only hope it comes out in DVD in the UK. 9 out of 10.


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