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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:

Richard L. Breen (screenplay), Howard Sheehan (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cliff Robertson ... Lt. JG John F. Kennedy
Ty Hardin ... Ensign Leonard J. Thom
James Gregory ... Commander C.R. Ritchie
Robert Culp ... Ensign George 'Barney' Ross
Grant Williams ... Lt. Alvin Cluster
Lew Gallo ... Yeoman Rogers
Errol John Errol John ... Benjamin Kevu
Michael Pate ... Lt. Reginald Evans
Robert Blake ... Gunner's Mate Charles 'Bucky' Harris
William Douglas William Douglas ... Gerard Zinser
Biff Elliot ... Seaman Edgar E. Mauer (as Biff Elliott)
Norman Fell ... Machinist Edmund Drewitch
Sam Gilman ... Raymond Starkey
Clyde Howdy ... Machinist Leon Drawdy
Buzz Martin Buzz Martin ... Gunner's Mate Maurice Kowal
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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 | Plot 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:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

19 June 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

PT Boat 109 See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 Norman Fell's character (Drewitch) is in the PT engine room during the rescue of U.S. soldiers from the beach (about 50 minutes in), PT 109 is receiving Japanese shore fire on its port (left) side. But Drewitch is wounded by a projectile that pierces the boat from the starboard (right) side. 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 Killing Oswald (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Rock of Ages
(uncredited)
Music by Thomas Hastings
Lyrics by Augustus Montague Toplady
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Timely (in 1963) dramatization of President Kennedy's Naval service.
11 February 2005 | by TxMikeSee all my reviews

Cliff Robertson was a good choice to play Lt. John F. Kennedy, new PT boat commander in 1944. He looked a bit like Kennedy and was able to recreate many of his mannerisms. This movie hit the theaters in the USA in June 1963, just after I graduated from high school, and only five months before President Kennedy died from a bullet in Dallas, Texas. I remember it well, it was perfect for the times, as it dramatized the events where the boat, PT 109, was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and sank, but Kennedy was able to lead the survivors to safety in the hostile South Pacific waters.

The movie opens in August 1942, the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, the US Navy was using PT boats because they were fast, had a shallow draft, and carried a good complement of torpedoes. We first see Lt. Kennedy receiving his assignment aboard a destroyer, in 1943 or 1944, then landing on the island base. With no active boats available, he was offered the PT 109, which had been neglected and was not ship-shape. He was given a makeshift crew, and one week to get it seaworthy. Which he and his men do, and pass the inspection with flying colors. Kennedy is shown as a leader by example, working side by side with his men, and taking the time to thank them for a job well done.

The movie goes on to show the deployment of the 109 into regular service, and the incident which resulted in the sinking of the boat and subsequent fight for survival. Even though he was eligible for an assignment stateside, Kennedy took another boat and continued the battle. It is well made for a 1963 movie.

Kennedy was born in 1917 and was 26 when he enlisted in the Navy after Harvard. When he was 38 he completed his book, "Profiles In Courage" which won a Pulitzer Prize. When he was only 43, in 1960, he defeated Richard Nixon and became President of the USA. In November 1963, he was dead. In spite of his flaws as a man, as a leader and as a President he was remarkable, and this is a good movie to remind us of that.


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