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
After hearing that Admiral Blackwell wants to see LT Brickley, LTJG Ryan opines that he "probably wants us to carry a message to Garcia." This refers to an inspirational and originally untitled essay by Elbert Hubbard, published in 1899. The essay deals with the problem of finding workers who will obey orders without needless questions, work hard without supervision, overcoming obstacles by taking initiative on their own, and complete assignments as tasked. It complains of those who do not fall into the above category as impeding the work of those who do.
In the days leading to the Spanish-American War, President McKinley wanted to initiate communication with the Cuban (anti-Spanish) rebels, potential allies in a war with Spain. Lt Andrew Rowan was detailed to find Calixto Garcia, one of the rebel commanders.Rowan was dispatched to Jamaica with orders of getting a message to Garcia and little other direction. After an arduous trip, Rowan found Garcia in the Oriente Mountains of Cuba and established a rapport with him. Rowan garnered information from Garcia and returned it the US. Soon, after the "Message to Garcia" became associated with Hubbard's essay. See more »
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. See more »
Opening credits prologue: Manila Bay In the Year of Our Lord Nineteen hundred and Forty-one See more »
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 »
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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