7.3/10
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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})
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
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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'
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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:

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

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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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  »
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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

When one of the PT boats shoots down a Japanese plane it is seen crashing behind some trees. The fireball from the crash appears in a wrong spot from where the plane would have crashed. Also it appears as soon as the plane is below tree height before the plane would actually explode. See more »

Quotes

'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

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

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

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User Reviews

 
Authenticity
29 May 2005 | by (Arizona) – See all my reviews

The best war films pull no punches. They also make the point that -- irrespective of natural sentiment and political bias -- war is by nature an aberration, lacking any rational basis for justifying its recurrence through the centuries. War is essentially uncivilized, and can be excused only when a disputant being attacked can define a clear and present danger against which no alternative obtains.

Lesser war films tend to extol the virtues of war, glamorize heroism in battle, play on the viewer's emotions, blow things up for the sake of thrills, exaggerate false sentiment, betray a jingoist point of view, and most reprehensible of all cloak themselves in Orwellian speeches that seek to manipulate an unwitting audience into action.

This film is simply one of the best of the best. Except for one or two sequences it relies on believable, non-heroic characters involved in acts of concentrated heroism under the most stressful and suspenseful conditions imaginable. Its tone is that of having been filmed in actual wartime using many actors who themselves were recent combatants. Yet it covers a full range of cinematic possibilities, from a sensitive script to an excellent musical score.

I will not dwell on all the aspects of authentic, almost documentary, elements in this film. I spent the war on the home front, and thus do not know of all the technically correct parts that others here have commented on. My own recollection was that most of the ordinary joes were always referring to Douglas MacArthur as "Dugout Doug," a derogatory swipe at his flight to Australia and reluctance to go on the offensive for some time thereafter.

Like other great war films such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Paths of Glory, this one takes its place right up there.


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