Edit
They Were Expendable (1945) Poster

Goofs

Jump to: Anachronisms (1) | Continuity (6) | Crew or equipment visible (1) | Factual errors (6) | Miscellaneous (2) | Plot holes (1) | Revealing mistakes (3)

Anachronisms 

By the time this movie was made, the class of PT boat used in the Philippine Islands was not available. They substituted 80-foot ELCOs for the 77-foot ELCOs actually used in Manila Bay.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Continuity 

When Lt. Sandy Davys attends the 'party', Lt. JG 'Rusty' Ryan takes a big swig of his drink, spilling some of it down his face and shirt, yet in the next scene, he's completely dry.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
During the aircraft strafing scenes when LTjg Ryan is injured, the planes are attacking from astern of the boats. The bullet strikes on the boat start from the starboard bow and go across the boat to the port side, indicating a frontal attack.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In one of the first battle action scenes of a torpedo being fired you can see a stray 50 cal. shell rolling across the starboard deck just to the left of the torpedo tube. Several minutes later in another battle on another PT boat you can see the same shell rolling across the deck in the same place, indicating they used the same sequence of footage twice.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Brick is briefing his officers on the route they are to take in evacuating McArthur, he draws the route on the map in a thick, heavy line. Seconds later, when the map is picked up to be folded, the lines are gone.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The same scene with a PT boat running under some air burst shells and dodging some water explosions is shown twice, reusing the footage to extend the fighting scene.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Brickley tells Rusty he can't go on the mission and takes "Shorty" in the 31 boat instead. The scene that shows Brickley departing the dock, Rusty is on the bow of the 34 boat moored to the left of the 41 boat. The scene shifts to behind the 41 boat and shows the 31 boat leaving the mooring on the left side of the dock where Rusty and the 34 boat were shown in the earlier scene.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Crew or equipment visible 

During the torpedo runs, the camera boat wake is visible next to the PT boats.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Factual errors 

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.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
A frame at the end of the movie said, "We shall return - General Douglas MacArthur". In fact, the White House tried to get the general to change his famous quote to "we" but he refused, saying he failed to see the purpose. It should read, "I shall return."
7 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Throughout the movie, as with most movies, naval personnel are shown wearing their covers (hats) indoors. Naval protocols required that Navy and Marine Corps personnel only wear covers indoors if on duty. Thus in the scene at the admiral's conference early in the movie, all the departing officers incorrectly put on their covers while still inside, although the Marine sentry is properly dressed with a cover since he is on duty.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
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.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Sandy Davyss is a Second Lieutenant. When the corporal comes to pick up the field phone after she talks with Rusty, he refers to her as "Miss." In actuality, he would have referred to her as lieutenant or ma'am, but certainly not as "Miss."
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In the ending scene with the C47. The tail number starts with a '3'. This indicates the plane was build in 1943. At best it could have started with a '2' for 1942 but doubtful.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Miscellaneous 

When Brickley and Rusty (John Wayne) are receiving orders about the evacuation of Army and Navy personal, Rusty's "Fly" is unzipped. At Military burials, you do not have "Firing squads" you have an "Honor Guard" Rusty uses the phrase "firing squad" when burying two sailors from his Boat.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
On one of the postings indicating torpedo-boat scores and losses, one line reads "Supported army - straffed jap landing party." Of course, the word should be "strafed," not "straffed."
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Plot holes 

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.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Revealing mistakes 

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.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The Japanese air attack at the beginning of the movie shows the aircraft strafing the PT boats. None of the aircraft flying in the scene are carrying bombs, nor are there attachments on the wings for carrying bombs.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Near the end of the film at the airfield their speech echoes indicating that they are in a studio and not out in the open.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page