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They Were Expendable (1945)

Approved | | Drama , War | 31 December 1945 (USA)
The PT boat unit Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three defends the Philippines from Japanese invasion during 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})
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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 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 | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Tribute to Those Who Did So Much . . . With So Little! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 December 1945 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fuimos los sacrificados See more »

Filming Locations:

Florida Keys, Florida, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the funeral service for two of his servicemen who died in battle, John Wayne's character Lt. Ryan reads "Requiem," a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Originally it was supposed to have been spoken by Montgomery. See more »

Goofs

Both American aircraft shown in the film (a Piper J5A observation plane and a Douglas C-47 transport) carry the national insignia markings of a white star in a blue roundel, which was authorized on August 18, 1942. This is incorrect for the period depicted in the film (early December 1941 through late April 1942), when U.S. insignia was a white star inside a blue roundel with a red ball in the middle of the white star. See more »

Quotes

Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: Listen Brick, for years I've been taking your fatherly advice, and it's never been any good. So from now on, I'm strictly a one man band!
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 Five Came Back: The Price of Victory (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Red River Valley
(uncredited)
Traditional
Instrumental version heard when Dad is left alone to meet the oncoming Japanese.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Monkeys Have No Tails in Samboango
22 November 2000 | by tlc75372See all my reviews

Wayne and Ford at their peak.

Somehow I missed this film until a few years ago on a cable movie channel. Growing up with WWII as the dominant theme of modern history and an appreciation of the older film stars, this film is without question the most realistic in terms of the message and of just passed events with superb performances in the old morality style of the 40's.

The old Navy, surviving in the Asiatic backwater where promotions could take years, bears the brunt of the onslaught of total war for America. A heroic tragedy of holding the line to bide time for the Nation to recover.

A story for all time, the greatest war movie of all time. No matter how large the budget and digital special effects, they will never capture the texture and feel of this film. The dying of the old Navy from Yangtze to Cavite with gutsy sailors like "Boats" living hard in the backwater paradise of the Pacific on $20 a month.

The tragedy of continuing defeat, overwhelming catastrophic events, the ill prepared Nation, the dying of the old Navy, all combine to make this film, made with event still fresh in the actors and film makers minds, a statement of that war and of the heroes which the audience knew first hand. It says, we knew these men and boys and they were as fine a heroes this country has ever produced and they will live larger than life for as long as this film exists.


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