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They Were Expendable 1945
Description: Shortly after Pearl Harbor, a squadron of PT-boat teams in the Philippines gotta war the Navy brass between skirmishes with the Japanese. The game tells it all about the Navy's attitude towards the PT-boats and their crews.
Released: 31 Dec 1945 Director: John Ford, Robert Montgomery Writers: William L. White (book), Frank Wead (screenplay) Actors: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt Genres: Drama, War
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They Were Expendable Reviews:

They Were Expendable is John Ford's first Hollywood detail since his discharge from the U.S. Navy and the same can be told for Robert Montgomery. Both had served in the Navy and Montgomery in fact on P.T. Boats. From the last presidential election we actually know them as Swift Boats. It's an unusual John Ford movie because the usual massive comedic monkeyshines are rather subdued here. I'm thinking that John Ford wisely decided that Globe Fight II being recently over, the country's mood was joyous, but somber in terms of the massive human cost.They Were Expendable has the benefit though of the American audience knowing the ultimate victory. The storyline starts in the Phillipines in 1941 with Robert Montgomery as true life naval character John Bulkeley, renamed Brickley for the film, trying to convince the brass of the usefulness of the P.T. Boat in combat, not just for scouting and courier duty. Of course that experiment is slash short and the P.T. Boats and their teams are rushed into some on the job experience.During the movie MacArthur, you might recall Gregory Peck telling that he was going to be evacuated from Corregidor by "one of Johnny Bulkeley's torpedo boats." That stage is dramatized as a wordless Robert Barrat plays MacArthur traveling on the boat commanded by John Wayne.Wayne is Montgomery's second in command of the P.T. boat squadron who is not thrilled to be there. He'd like to be on at least a destroyer. He gradually comes around though. He also gets a fling in the romance department with Navy nurse Donna Reed.During that interlude John Ford had some of the team outside singing Dear Old Woman in a comic vein. Ford was never one to not allow a nice bit of business die with one film. You might remember in Fort Apache and Rio Grande there was some serenading done. And Donna Reed got serenaded on her "Hawaiian" honeymoon with James Stewart in It's a Unbelievable Life with Ward Bond once again being one of the serenaders. I'm sure Frank Capra would have conceded he stole that from Ford.The storyline is first and foremost about some very desperate American armed forces who after Pearl Harbor were at the Japanese mercy. Pearl Harbor had totalled our Pacific fleet and no supplies should receive through. Still the units there fought on bravely, they were in fact by geography expendable. Wayne and Montgomery give nice but subdued performances. No do or die heroics here, just a sobering reminder of a poor beginning for the Americans in the Pacific theater of Globe Fight II.


Wayne and Ford at their peak.Somehow I missed this movie until a several years ago on a cable film channel. Growing up with WWII as the dominant theme of modern history and an appreciation of the older movie stars, this movie is without question the most realistic in terms of the message and of just passed happenings with magnificent performances in the old morality style of the 40's.The old Navy, surviving in the Asiatic backwater where promos should take years, bears the brunt of the onslaught of total fight for America. A heroic tragedy of holding the line to bide time for the Nation to recover.A storyline for all time, the best fight film of all time. No matter how huge the budget and digital unique 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 difficult 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 create this film, made with happening still new in the actors and movie makers minds, a statement of that fight and of the heroes which the audience knew first hand. It says, we knew these boys and men and they were as fine a heroes this country has ever produced and they will live larger than life for as long as this movie exists.


One reveiwer critices this movie about lack of action he misses the point,all the characters are well developed which makes the ending so painfull. The acting is first rate each part is played with a nice belief,,there are so many nice scenes that touch the heart.The boys are bonded together by their actions and when the bonds are broken through death or orders it hurts us all. Donna Reed is superb to look at ,only a tiny role but well acted. At the end of the movie you feel a lump in your throat and a tear forms in your eye,I love this movie.9/10



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