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
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 »
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 »
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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