THEY WERE EXPENDABLE
DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD
and ROBERT MONTGOMERY-uncredited
PRODUCED JOHN FORD/ CLIFF REID
SCREENPLAY BY Lt. COMMANDER FRANK WEAD
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
The fall of the Phillippines to the Japanese in World War II, and the heroism and tragedy of the defenders, as exemplified by the story of one American PT boat squadron.
Summary written by Jim Beaver
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, a squadron of PT-boat crews in the Philipines must battle the Navy brass between skirmishes with the Japanese. The title says it all about the Navy's attitude towards the PT-boats and their crews.
Summary written by Anonymous
Based on the real life heroics of Lieutenants John Bulkeley (Brickley) and Robert Kelly (Ryan), the movie accurately depicts the defense of the Philippines by American PT Boats from December 1941 through April 1942 for which Lieutenant (later Vice Admiral) Bulkeley was awarded the Medal of Honor and Lieutenant Kelly the Navy Cross.
Summary written by Jim Graslie
Robert Montgomery .... Lt. John Brickley
John Wayne .... Lt. (j.g.) 'Rusty' Ryan
Donna Reed .... 2nd Lt. Sandy Davys
Jack Holt .... Gen. Martin
Ward Bond .... 'Boats' Mulcahey
Marshall Thompson .... Ens. 'Snake' Gardner
Paul Langton .... Ens. 'Andy' Andrews
Leon Ames .... Maj. James Morton
Arthur Walsh .... Seaman Jones
Donald Curtis .... Lt. (j.g.) 'Shorty' Long/voice on radio announcing fall of Bataan
Cameron Mitchell .... Ens. George Cross
Jeff York .... Ens. Tony Aiken
Murray Alper .... 'Slug' Mahan
Harry Tenbrook .... Squarehead Larson
Jack Pennick .... Doc
Alex Havier .... Benny Lecoco
Charles Trowbridge .... Adm. Blackwell
Robert Barrat .... Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Bruce Kellogg .... Elder Tompkins
Tim Murdock .... Ens. L. D. Brant
Louis Jean Heydt .... Captain 'Ohio' Carter
Russell Simpson .... 'Dad' Knowland
Vernon Steele .... Army doctor
Pedro de Cordoba .... Priest (scenes deleted)
Philip Ahn .... Army orderly (uncredited)
Steve Barclay .... Naval officer (uncredited)
Bill Barnum .... Boat crew member (uncredited)
Betty Blythe .... Officer's wife (uncredited)
Danny Borzage .... Boat crew member (uncredited)
Al Bridge .... Lieutenant Colonel (uncredited)
George Bruggeman .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Charles Calhoun .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
James Carlisle .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
John Carlyle .... Lt. James (uncredited)
Jack Carrington .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
Bruce Carruthers .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Tony Carson .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Jack Cheatham .... Commander (uncredited)
Fred Coby .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
Roger Cole .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
Jane Crowley .... Officer's wife (uncredited)
William B. Davidson .... Hotel manager (uncredited)
Marjorie Davies .... Nurse (uncredited)
Patrick Davis .... Pilot (uncredited)
Gary Delmar .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Larry Dods .... Boat crew member (uncredited)
Ernest Dominguez .... Filipino boy (uncredited)
Frank Donahue .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
William 'Red' Donahue .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
George Economides .... Bartender's child (uncredited)
Michael Economides .... Bartender's child (uncredited)
Blake Edwards .... Boat crewman (uncredited)
Frank Eldredge .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
John Epper .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
Jim Farley .... (uncredited)
Charles Ferguson .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
Leonard Fisher .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Lee Tung Foo .... Asian bartender (uncredited)
Wallace Ford .... (uncredited)
Art Foster .... Boat crew member (uncredited)
Almeda Fowler .... Officer's wife (uncredited)
Mary Jane French .... Lost nurse (uncredited)
Jon Gilbreath .... Submarine commander (uncredited)
Duke Green .... PT-41 boat starboard torpedoman (uncredited)
Sherry Hall .... Marine major (uncredited)
Del Hill .... Boat crew member (uncredited)
Robert Homans .... Bartender at Manila Hotel (uncredited)
Vincent Isla .... Filipino schoolteacher (uncredited)
Dick Karl .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Michael Kirby .... Boat crewman (uncredited)
Michael Kostrick .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Paul Kruger .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Stubby Kruger .... Boat crewman (uncredited)
Jack Lee .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Donald S. Lewis .... Officer at airport (uncredited)
Jack Lorenz .... Man in admiral's office (uncredited)
Leota Lorraine .... Officer's wife (uncredited)
Trina Lowe .... Gardner's girlfriend (uncredited)
Jack Luden .... Naval Air Captain (uncredited)
Ted Lundigan .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
James Magill .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
George Magrill .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Eve March .... Nurse (uncredited)
Kermit Maynard .... Airport Officer (uncredited)
Merrill McCormick .... Wounded Officer at Airport (uncredited)
Frank McGrath .... Slim, bearded CPO (uncredited)
Leonard Mellin .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Karl Miller .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Henry Mirelez .... Filipino Boy (uncredited)
Margaret Morton .... Bartender's Wife (uncredited)
Jack Mower .... Officer (uncredited)
Forbes Murray .... Navy Captain (uncredited)
Charles Murray Jr. .... Jeep Driver (uncredited)
Bill Neff .... Submarine Skipper/Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
Bill Nind .... Officer at Airport (uncredited)
Wedgwood Nowell .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Robert Emmett O'Connor .... Silver Dollar bartender (uncredited)
Max Ong .... Mayor of Cebu (uncredited)
Franklin Parker .... Naval Officer (uncredited)
Frank Pershing .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
Nino Pipitone Jr. .... Bartender's Child (uncredited)
Dan Quigg .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Robert Shelby Randall .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
Clifford Rathjen .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Joey Ray .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
William McKeever Riley .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
Jack Ross .... Officer at Airport (uncredited)
John Roy .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Harold Schlickenmayer .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Phil Schumacher .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
Ernest Seftig .... Naval Officer (uncredited)
Jack Semple .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Brent Shugar .... Officer at Airport (uncredited)
Sam Simone .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Reginald Simpson .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Leslie Sketchley .... Marine Orderly (uncredited)
Ralph Soncuya .... Filipino Orderly (uncredited)
Leonard Stanford .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Larry Steers .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Sammy Stein .... Sammy, Boat crewman (uncredited)
Jack Stoney .... Boat Crew Member (uncredited)
Robert Strong .... Officer at Airport (uncredited)
Roy Thomas .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Bob Thom .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Dick Thorne .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Pacita Tod-Tod .... Nightclub singer (uncredited)
Brad Towne .... Man in Admiral's Office (uncredited)
Jack Trent .... Officer at Airport (uncredited)
Tom Tyler .... Captain at airport (uncredited)
Emmett Vogan .... Naval Doctor (uncredited)
Eleanore Vogel .... Officer's Wife (uncredited)
Hansel Warner .... Officer at Airport (uncredited)
Billy Wilkerson .... Sgt. Smith (uncredited)
Roque Ybarra Jr. .... Bartender's Child (uncredited)
William L. White (book)
Frank Wead (screenplay) (as Frank Wead Comdr. U.S.N. [Ret.])
Joseph H. August (as Joseph H. August Lt. Comdr. U.S.N.R.)
Robert Montgomery .... director: rear projection plates (uncredited)
Robert Montgomery was a real-life PT skipper in World War 2. He helped direct some of the PT sequences for the film when John Ford was unavailable due to health reasons.
Filmed in Miami, the closing shot with the lighthouse is the Cape Florida Lighthouse, in what is today the Cape Florida State Park. The lighthouse withstood and was the scene of an Seminole Indian attack in 1835.
The movie was based on the real live exploits of John Bulkeley, a World War II Medal of Honor Recipient.
This movie was based on William L. White's book "They Were Expendable", which covered the exploits of Lieutenants John Bulkeley and Robert Kelly. Lt. Robert Kelly and U.S. Army Nurse "Peggy Smith" sued MGM, John Wayne and Donna Reed for their portrayal of them in the film. Although the film follows the book fairly closely, it does portray Lt. Kelly as impetuous and "hell bound for glory." Nurse Smith is shown romantically involved with Lt. Kelly. Wayne, Reed and MGM settled out of court for a nominal sum (less than $5,000.00). This event prompted movies to start adding disclaimers such as "All characters are fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely by coincidence and any of their actions in actual historical events is not accurate".
The real-life Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II was equipped with six 77-foot Elco PT boats, all either lost in combat or destroyed to prevent capture. In the film, the Squadron 3 boats are represented by two 80-foot Elco and four 78-foot Huckins PT boats.
"Dad" Knowlton, the shipwright who repairs the PT boats, has a poignant little scene in which he refuses to leave the place he's lived and worked for forty years, although the Japanese are advancing. Rusty Ryan, John Wayne's character, finally leaves Dad sitting alone on his porch with a rifle in his hands and a jug of moonshine between his knees, as "Red River Valley" plays in the background. How eerily reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath (1940), which is particularly appropriate because Dad is played by Russell Simpson, whom John Ford directed as Pa Joad in 1940.
During the shooting of this movie, John Ford had put John Wayne down every chance he got, because Wayne had not enlisted to fight in World War II. Ford commanded a naval photographic unit during the war rising to the rank of captain and thought Wayne a coward for staying behind. After months of heaping insults on Wayne's head, costar Robert Montgomery finally approached the director and told him that if he was putting Wayne down for Montgomery's benefit (Montgomery had served in the war), that he needed to stop immediately. This brought the tough-as-nails director to tears and he stopped abusing Wayne.
When the officers are gathered around the dining table, they stand for a toast, Rusty misses and the drink goes down the front of his shirt, then quickly cuts.
In a scene on the docks, a ship named the Lucien P. Libby is in the background. In the biography "John Ford: A Bio-bibliography" by Bill Levy, there is a reference to John Ford being influenced by two teachers during his four years at Portland High School. One was an English teacher, Lucien Libby, who "helped the boy with his writing, encouraged Ford's reading, and stimulated thinking with witty comic teaching."
First war movie feature of John Ford.
This is one of a handful of feature film movies that have featured the story of the World War II Battle of Bataan. They include Bataan (1943), So Proudly We Hail! (1943); They Were Expendable (1945) and Back to Bataan (1945).
The film covers the World War II Battle of Bataan and the place Bataan which is a Central Luzon region province on Luzon island in the Philippines and occupies the whole of the Bataan Peninsula on the island.
* Factual errors: 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.
* Anachronisms: By the time this movie was made, the class of PT boat used in the Philippine Islands was not available. They substituted 80-foot ELCOs for the 78-foot ELCOs actually used in Manila Bay.
* Continuity: When Lt. Sandy Davys attends the 'party', Lt. JG 'Rusty' Ryan takes a big swig of his drink, spilling some of it down his face and shirt, yet in the next scene, he's completely dry.
* Revealing mistakes: The Japanese air attack at the beginning of the movie shows the aircraft strafing the PT boats. None of the aircraft flying in the scene are carrying bombs, nor are there attachments on the wings for carrying bombs.
* Continuity: During the aircraft strafing scenes when LTjg Ryan is injured, the planes are attacking from astern of the boats. The bullet strikes on the boat start from the starboard bow and go across the boat to the port side, indicating a frontal attack.
* Continuity: When Brick is briefing his officers on the route they are to take in evacuating McArthur, he draws the route on the map in a thick, heavy line. Seconds later, when the map is picked up to be folded, the lines are gone.
* Factual errors: A frame at the end of the movie said, "We shall return - General Douglas MacArthur". In fact, the White House tried to get the general to change his famous quote to "we" but he refused, saying he failed to see the purpose. It should read, "I shall return."
Florida Keys, Florida, USA
Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
Melville, Rhode Island, USA
Miami, Florida, USA
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