They Were Expendable

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"A Tribute to Those Who Did So Much . . . With So Little!"
  • Approved
  • 1945
  • 2 hr 15 min
  • 7.2  (9,181)
  • 86

They Were Expendable is a classic war film from 1945, directed by John Ford and starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, and Donna Reed. Set in World War II, the film follows the story of the PT boat crew of the US Navy's Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three. The film depicts how they valiantly fought against the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Philippines during the early days of the war.

The film is based on the book by William L. White, which is a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in the Pacific War. The film is a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the PT boat crews and the role they played in the war.

The film begins with the arrival of second lieutenant John Brickley (Robert Montgomery), who is assigned to oversee PT boats in the Philippines. He meets his senior officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert "Bob" Ryan (John Wayne), who is in charge of the squadron. Brickley is skeptical of the PT boats' effectiveness in warfare and initially clashes with Ryan, who believes in the PT boats' potential.

The crew of the PT boat includes Rusty Ryan (John Wayne's character's brother), played by Jack Holt, Andy "Fix" Anderson, Red Fyfe, and Thomas "Dad" Knowland. They are a tight-knit crew who are proud of their service, with Rusty also a bit of a ladies' man. Donna Reed plays Second Lieutenant Sandy Davyss, a nurse stationed in the Philippines with whom Brickley starts a romance.

The war soon reaches the Philippines, and the PT boats are called into action. They participate in guerrilla attacks against Japanese troops and transportation, then engage in fights with enemy warships. One of the most thrilling scenes in the movie is an intense battle between the PT boats and a Japanese task force, showing the bravery and skill of the crews as they evade enemy fire and take on Japanese warships much larger and better-armed than their small vessels.

As the war becomes more intense, the PT boat crews face great losses and setbacks, and the film shows the impact it has on those left behind. The story of the film is mainly about the crew's heroism, but it also deals with the cost of war and the sacrifices made by the people who fight in them.

The film's pacing is steady, as it builds up the characters and the setting. The action scenes are thrilling and realistic, and the film captures the chaos and terror of war. The film's black and white cinematography adds to the overall atmosphere, as it creates an old-fashioned feel that suits the period in which the story is set.

The film was made during the war, which adds to its sense of authenticity. The actors, including John Wayne, who is known for his support for the military, were eager to participate in the film, with many of them having served in the war. The film's realism and its portrayal of the PT boats' bravery made it a hit when it was first released and has been considered one of the best war films of its time.

In conclusion, They Were Expendable is a classic war film that follows the heroic story of the PT boat crews in the Philippine seas during World War II. The film features thrilling action scenes and masterful performances by the cast, making it a must-watch for fans of war films and those interested in history. It is a moving tribute to the brave soldiers who fought and died in the war, and it will likely continue to be a classic in the years to come.

They Were Expendable is a 1945 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2 and a MetaScore of 86.

They Were Expendable
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 15 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (9,181)
  • Metascore