7.2/10
7,468
94 user 31 critic

They Were Expendable (1945)

Approved | | Drama, War | 31 December 1945 (USA)
Trailer
1:36 | Trailer
A Navy commander fights to prove the battle-worthiness of the PT boat at the start of World War II.

Directors:

John Ford (as John Ford Captain U.S.N.R.), Robert Montgomery (uncredited)

Writers:

William L. White (book), Frank Wead (screenplay) (as Frank Wead Comdr. U.S.N. {Ret})
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Montgomery ... Lt. John Brickley (as Robert Montgomery Comdr. U.S.N.R.)
John Wayne ... Lt. (J.G.) 'Rusty' Ryan
Donna Reed ... Lt. Sandy Davyss
Jack Holt ... General Martin
Ward Bond ... 'Boats' Mulcahey C.B.M.
Marshall Thompson ... Ens. 'Snake' Gardner
Paul Langton ... Ens. 'Andy' Andrews
Leon Ames ... Major James Morton
Arthur Walsh Arthur Walsh ... Seaman Jones
Donald Curtis ... Lt. (J.G.) 'Shorty' Long / Radio Announcer
Cameron Mitchell ... Ens. George Cross
Jeff York ... Ens. Tony Aiken
Murray Alper ... 'Slug' Mahan T.M. 1c
Harry Tenbrook ... 'Squarehead' Larsen SC 2c
Jack Pennick ... 'Doc'
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Storyline

In the wake of Pearl Harbor's surprise attack, World War II hero, Lt. John Brickley's experimental squadron of agile fast-attack Patrol Torpedo boats is sent to warm and humid Manila to avert a potentially imminent Japanese invasion. As he and his second-in-command, Lieutenant "Rusty" Ryan, desperately try to prove the newly-founded naval unit's worth, the enemy launches a devastating all-out attack--and despite the PT boat flotilla's undeniable success--the considerably outnumbered and outgunned American soldiers are fighting a losing battle. Little by little, the Philippine campaign is doomed to cave in, as comrades-in-arms perish in the sea. Is there glory in defeat? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Spine-Tingling Thundering Saga Of The Sea! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Ford was quick to show newcomers to his set who was in control. Robert Montgomery received an amusing rebuke from Ford early in the shooting after suggesting a different way to compose a shot. Ford listened, then made the shot Montgomery's way. Asking if he thought it went well, Montgomery replied that the shot went fine. Ford asked, "Did you really like it?" and Montgomery replied that he did. Ford then opened the camera, yanked the film out, and handed it to his actor, saying, "Here - take it home with you." See more »

Goofs

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. See more »

Quotes

Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: Are you kidding, Brick?
Lt. John Brickley: Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do...
Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: And die... but I don't want to be bored to death running messages!
Lt. John Brickley: I'll see that you get the more intriguing ones.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing quote: "We Shall Return" Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army See more »

Alternate Versions

MGM produced a different version, dubbed and with credits in Spanish, probably to be used by television stations. This version omits the final sequence (nearly more than 15 minutes of running time) and the film ends a previous scene with Robert Montgomery and John Wayne saying farewell to the soldiers that had to remain in the Phillipines, then the scene cuts to a plane leaving the island and to a "The End" title in Spanish. This version aired in Argentina in a cable station called "Space". Turner Network Televsion, in all Latin American countries, used to air the film in its original form. However, they lifted the Spanish language dubbing from the old version and, without any explanation why, the last minutes of the film play in English. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Great Morgan (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
(uncredited)
Written by William Steffe (lyrics) & Julia Ward Howe (lyrics)
[Heard under last shot of airplane leaving.]
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User Reviews

 
Probably the greatest WWII film of its era.
27 May 2003 | by waha99See all my reviews

Rather than re-hash Tom Martin's excellent review of the film, I would rather provide some personal reflections.

This really is the most human of all the late-era WWII films, minus much of the blatantly propagandistic speeches that mar so many movies from that era. Rather, the dialogue is beautifully understated. Robert Montgomery's "looking for the Arizona too" comment to Wayne sums up the feelings of its time much more than a five minute speech on how important it is to win the war could ever do.

The cinematography is top notch, as it is in most of Ford's films. Watching this I believe we can definately see how Orson Welles would be influenced by his work over the years.

Robert Montgomery's work here is fantastic; again, as Martin states in his review, probably his best work in front of the camera. He seems war-weary (and in one of the Duke's biographies this is probably how Montgomery really was at this time, as he had seen quite a bit of action during the war before the film was made). John Wayne's character provides us with proof that he truly was a great actor. Watch the scene where he sits in a bar listening to a broadcast from San Francisco about the fall of Coregidor; his emotions are completely shown by the camera; no "let's get them dirty so-and-so's" speeches here, this is pure, wordless acting.

All in all, a great film; the best of the WWII era, and certainly one of the best of the 1940's. No hesitations here on my score: 10* out of 10.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 December 1945 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

They Were Expendable See more »

Filming Locations:

Florida Keys, Florida, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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