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PT 109 (1963)

 -  Biography | Drama | War  -  19 June 1963 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,520 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 8 critic

Dramatization of President John F. Kennedy's war time experiences during which he captained a PT boat, took it to battle and had it sunk by a Japanese destroyer. He and the survivors had to... See full summary »

Writers:

(screenplay), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ensign Leonard J. Thom
...
Commander C.R. Ritchie
...
Ensign George 'Barney' Ross
...
Lt., Alvin Cluster
Lew Gallo ...
Yeoman Rogers
Errol John ...
Benjamin Kevu
...
Lt. Reginald Evans
...
Charles 'Bucky' Harris
William Douglas ...
Gerald Zinser
...
Edgar E. Mauer
...
Edmund Drewitch
Sam Gilman ...
Raymond Starkey
Clyde Howdy ...
Leon Drawdy
Buzz Martin ...
Maurice Kowal
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Storyline

Dramatization of President John F. Kennedy's war time experiences during which he captained a PT boat, took it to battle and had it sunk by a Japanese destroyer. He and the survivors had to make their way to an island, find food and shelter and signal the Navy for rescue. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Most men would have given up...But not the crew of PT 109 See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 June 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Patrouillenboot PT 109  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The meaning of film's title "PT 109" is PT Boat 109 or Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 or Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109. PT is a symbol referring to a motor torpedo boat's hull classification symbol (aka hull codes aka hull numbers), in this case PT stands for Patrol Torpedo. Occasionally, movies will lend their titles to the numerical designation of a boat (See also: U-571 (2000)). See more »

Goofs

The cylindrical smoke generators on the sterns of the recreated PT boats in the movie face the wrong way. Real PT boat's generators were installed with the smoke-emitting nozzle to port (left). The movie boat's nozzles are on the starboard (right) sides of the generators. See more »

Quotes

Charles 'Bucky' Harris: Good afternoon, sir. Crew's compartment ready for inspection. Harris, Gunner's Mate Second, standing by.
Cmdr. C.R. Ritchie: Good afternoon.
[He looks around, and then opens one of the lockers. On the inside of the door is a picture of a luscious pin-up girl]
Cmdr. C.R. Ritchie: Somebody's kid sister?
Charles 'Bucky' Harris: Sorry, sir.
Lt. John F. Kennedy: He's very sorry, sir.
Cmdr. C.R. Ritchie: Oh, no, no. Don't apologize... the most seaworthy thing I've seen on this boat.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Killer Shrews (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A helluva good action-suspense-feel good war film.
3 September 2001 | by (Montgomery Village, Maryland) – See all my reviews

Since movies based on true life stories often are less than memorable, my expectations here were minimal. However, after viewing this film (finally!), I was very impressed. This story is very well done, with minimal obvious Hollywood embellishments. (No, I've not read the underlying book, of the same title, but now I'd like to.)

In the big scheme of World War II, the events depicted here would have been forgotten except that the central heroic figure, John F. Kennedy, would later become U.S. President. For those of us who lived through the Kennedy years, this portrait of JFK in his 20's is quite consistent with the JFK we later saw when he became nationally prominent and subsequently president. (If "Private Ryan" deserves a movie, then JFK and his shipmates are surely no less entitled.)

The story begins when JFK arrives in the Pacific and is given command of a PT ("Patrol Torpedo") boat. PT boats were fast wooden craft with a crew of 12 and carried four torpedos and some small-bore guns, capable of quickly getting in and out while operating in shallow waters and doing various odd jobs on short notice. Without a lucky torpedo shot, any one boat was not going to be noticed by history.

PT 109 operated into an area of Pacific waters and small islands mainly controlled by the Japanese. One of Kennedy's first missions was to provide covering fire onto shore and extricate some stranded Americans. The boat remained under enemy fire until the rescue was complete, notwithstanding casualties both to crew and those rescued.

On PT 109's final mission, during darkness and limited visibility (radar was not yet on most PT boats), a Japanese destroyer, perhaps unwittingly, slices through PT 109, half of which sinks while the other half capsizes, but not before JFK and surviving crew members make an arduous swim to shore, taking along their wounded---and shoes. Aerial reconnaissance later sights the wreckage and reports "no survivors."

How the PT 109 crew is finally saved results partly from good luck and partly from daring, ingenuity, exhausting swims, and a refusal to give up. Yes, this is also a feel-good movie!

(The movie also acknowledges the part played and risks taken by "coast watchers," isolated individuals who infiltrated islands in Japanese-controlled areas, maintained lookouts from high ground, and radioed back critical information on enemy movements.)


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DVD? gotsoccer
Great true story of JFK in the Solomon Is, during WW 2. grafspee
Vote for PT 109 release on DVD on the TCM website rac701
Cliff Robertson (1923-2011) doug65oh
Syrupy Sweet, but a Good Movie SCBRoslyn
It's Not IN the film, but... doug65oh
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