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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:

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The filming location was Key Biscayne, Florida, with a lot of design and set work giving it a passable resemblance to the Philippines. See more »

Goofs

Sandy Davyss is a Second Lieutenant. When the corporal comes to pick up the field phone after she talks with Rusty, he refers to her as "Miss." In actuality, he would have referred to her as lieutenant or ma'am, but certainly not as "Miss." See more »

Quotes

'Slug' Mahan T.M. 1c: Mr. Ryan, this has gone far enough! That 41 boat is always hoggin' the good jobs, sir.
Seaman Jones: We'll get all the soaking we need on our way up to hit the Japs, sir.
'Squarehead' Larsen SC 2c: What are we gonna do, sit around on our duffs till they get back, sir?
Ens. 'Snake' Gardner: 41 can't handle this job alone... sir.
Lt. 'Rusty' Ryan: How about it, sir?
Lt. John Brickley: Okay. But if she starts taking water, turn back. Sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Manila Bay In the Year of Our Lord Nineteen hundred and Forty-one 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 Mister Roberts (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

The Monkeys Have No Tails in Zamboanga
(uncredited)
Music adapted from the official march of the Philippine Constabulary
Written by by G. Savoca (lyrics)
[Sung in the officer's club at the beginning of the movie.]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Intertesting View From The Start of WWII
11 February 2006 | by dgz78See all my reviews

Watching this movie in February, 2006, my first thought is how was this movie was received in 1945 vs now. It's hard to believe that Hollywood would make such a patriotic movie about what was essentially an embarrassing defeat for the USA. The armed forces between WWI and 1941 were allowed to whither away their effectiveness to the point that Roosevelt had no choice but to sacrifice the troops in the Philipines. Today, there would be calls for the impeachment of a president.

The men on the PT boats remind me of Bogart in The Caine Mutiny - men willing to join the services before Pearl Harbor for low pay and little respect. They were willing to serve because they knew freedom isn't free.

It's also interesting how MacArthur is portrayed. Before he left for Australia hew was referred to as Dugout Doug because he only went to the front 1 time. He also was criticized for not using his air corps to attack the Japanese before they reached the Phillipines. But by August, 1945 he had the led the Allies to Tokyo Bay for the surrender on the deck of the Missouri. Could Ford have made this movie in 1942 before Mac started his island hopping to Japan?

Not the most exciting movie - especially for a war flick, but an interesting look at soldiers who got their orders and filled them to the best of their abilities - and often to their last breath.


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