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PT 109 (1963)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, War | 19 June 1963 (USA)
During WW2, Lieut. John F. Kennedy takes command of PT 109 to fight the Japanese in the Solomon Islands.

Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Commander C.R. Ritchie
...
Ensign George 'Barney' Ross
...
Lt. Alvin Cluster
...
Yeoman Rogers
Errol John ...
Benjamin Kevu
...
Lt. Reginald Evans
...
Gunner's Mate Charles 'Bucky' Harris
William Douglas ...
Gerard Zinser
...
Seaman Edgar E. Mauer (as Biff Elliott)
...
Machinist Edmund Drewitch
...
Raymond Starkey
...
Machinist Leon Drawdy
Buzz Martin ...
Gunner's Mate Maurice Kowal
Edit

Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of Lt. John F. Kennedy's incredible adventure in the South Pacific! 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:

PT Boat 109  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
 »

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

Peter Fonda, who resembled the young JFK in build and looks, was also considered for the role of PT 109's last skipper as were both Roger Smith and Ed "Kookie" Byrnes (See: Edd Byrnes) from the popular TV series 77 Sunset Strip (1958) See more »

Goofs

When they are returning from their first patrol, there is one boat in the background. A couple of seconds later, there are now two boats. See more »

Quotes

Edmund Drewitch: [reading a brief on Kennedy] Seems like all he ever did was go to school. He's had no sea duty. Says here he wrote a book.
Leon Drawdy: Sounds like he oughta be in charge of a library.
Charles 'Bucky' Harris: What's the name of the book?
Edmund Drewitch: 'Why England Slept.'
Charles 'Bucky' Harris: [around a cigar stub] Got any pictures in it?
Edmund Drewitch: Pigeons?
Charles 'Bucky' Harris: Pictures, idiot!
Edmund Drewitch: He's lookin' for pictures and I'm an idiot.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

99 Bottles of Beer
(uncredited)
Traditional
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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