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Dramatization of President John F. Kennedy's wartime 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I first saw this film during it's initial theatrical release and have seen it several times since. This a good movie but at 2 hours and 20 minutes it runs a little long. This could have been made more concise and more adventurous and should have come in at 90 minutes and it would have been a better movie. Director Leslie Martinson only made nine mostly forgettable films in his long directorial career that was mostly in television. This was his best film. He was a much sought after television director and directed some of the most popular television series from the early 50's through the mid 80's. This was the last film in the long career of producer Bryan Foy. Foy was a producer and director from the 1920's and began producing full-time in the 1930's specializing in mainly B-movies. A great cinematographer here in Robert Surtees who had photographed Ben Hur, Oklahoma, quo Vidas and would go on to photograph The Graduate, The Summer of 42, The Last Picture Show and The Sting among his many films. A good editor on this film too in Folmar Blangsted who edited Rio Bravo and The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell and would go on to edit The Summer of 42 and ironically Camelot among his many films. This is the story of the naval career of future US President John F. Kennedy as a lieutenant in WWII. This is adapted from the best selling book PT 109 John F. Kennedy in WWII which was inspired by a 1944 article in the New Yorker magazine called Survival by John Hersey. The PT 109 story of the patrol boat in the South Pacific captained by Lt. John F. Kennedy that was cut in half in a collision with a Japanese destroyer was a big part of the Kennedy story. During his 1961 Inagural parade a full size replica float of the boat was featured in the parade route with all of the original crew members on the float as a surprise to the new president. He kept the coconut shell that he had written a message on encased in class in his Oval Office along with a model replica of a PT boat. Warren Beatty apparently was Kennedy's first choice to portray him in this film which would have made sense as when this was filmed in the summer of 1962 in the Florida Keys, Beatty was 25 years old, exactly the same age as Kennedy was in 1943 when the film's setting takes place. Beatty reportedly turned down the role and Kennedy's second choice was Cliff Robertson who at 36 years old when production was done on this film was a full 10 years older and quite a few pounds heavier than Kennedy was in 1943. Also in the cast are Robert Culp, Norman Fell, James Gregory, Ty Hardin and Robert Blake. Look for future Star Trekker George Takei on the Japaneses destroyer. Character actor Andrew Duggan narrates. This film has more of a look and feel of a made-for television movie but it's definitely worth a watch. I would give it a 7.0 out of 10.
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