They Were Expendable
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Oscar and Golden Globe-winner John Wayne ("True Grit," "Stagecoach") stars in this moving drama about a Navy commander who fights to prove the battle-worthiness of the PT boat at the start of World War II. Oscar and Golden Globe-winner and Emmy-nominee Donna Reed ("It's a Wonderful Life") and Oscar-nominee Robert Montgomery ("Night Must Fall") co-star. Based on a true story.]]>
Top Customer Reviews
With regard to the film's title, not all of those involved with resisting the Japanese were expendable. General Douglas Mac Arthur is ordered by President Roosevelt to relocate with his family and staff to Australia. Brickley's squadron makes their escape possible. As the film ends, he and Lieutenant J.G. "Rusty" Ryan (John Wayne) return to the United States on the last plane out. Their men will now be fighting on foot...at least for a while. In the final scene, as they trudge proudly down the beach and the plane carrying Brickley and Ryan rises above them, the soundtrack offers a muted choral rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." A distinctive Ford touch.Read more ›
Few directors possess the passionate affection Ford has for his subjects. Ford idolizes and idealizes his soldiers and sailors. As a consequence, his movies usually aren't very plot driven. Rather, they are tone poems, love letters to the warriors he so deeply admires. Not that TWE doesn't hit a major note or two - the PT boat role as a fighting arm is established, battles are fought and boats are sunk. Yet Ford never seems all that interested in serving plot points. He wants to paint Heroes. In any other director this romantic treatment would seem trite and contrived, but Ford practically built the cliché, so I suppose if anyone has the right to use it, it's Ford.
Ford's heroes die talking. Rare is the mortally wound Ford warrior who is not borne from the noisy cauldron of battle to a quiet corner and allowed a passing speech. I don't mean to mock this, but I've never experienced the well of grief such scenes are meant to evoke. It happens a brief time or two in TWE, but the moments are over quickly enough.
If Ford's choice and treatment of material is romantic and sentimental, it's fortunate that his actors usually aren't. Robert Montgomery and John Wayne star and both give restrained performances as PT boat commanders. Ford surrounds them with his usual cast of highly competent character actors - Ward Bond, Jack Holt, et al - and seamlessly integrates shots of real combat in battle scenes. There's a scene where two PT boats attack a Japanese cruiser that is one of the best action sequences I've ever seen.
THEY WERE EXPENDABLE is a great war movie.
The all star cast includes George Montgomery, Donna Reed, John Wayne and Ward Bond, amongst others. All are excellent and make this story much more real than it might otherwise have been. You get the feel for the Philippines and the climate. Plus the deterioriation of the situation as the Army is forced down the Bataan Peninsula to the island of Corregidor and the ultimate siege and defeat.
Many people "remember" Pearl Harbor but don't quite recall that the Philippines was a starker defeat for the United States. If you look at it objectively, Pearl Harbor was essentially avenged at the Battle of Midway. The Philippines took over2 1/2 years to see the return of US forces and it then evolved into a slogging match with the Japanese Army that went on until the surrender of Japan in 1945. Pearl Harbor sticks in the mind, the Philippines rapidly faded away.
This movie brings back the events that made up the US role in the Philippines in 1941 and early 42. You see at the end that there is not a happy ending. The romantic interest stays behind to become a POW. The remaining members of the PT crews become rifle carrying Sailors as they march off into the bush. Pay attention to Montgomerey's farewell talk to his men. It should rank up there with Washington's farewell to the Army.
This is a film that should be seen by all with an interst in Naval and Military history as well as the events of 1941-42. It is a movie about people that could be anyone of us.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have seen "They Were Expendable" several times over the years on TV, but nothing prepared me for the sharp quality of this blu ray.Published 2 days ago by arkycatfish
Excellent cast and movie, (like most John Wayne/John Ford collaborations)Published 5 days ago by Rising Hawk
1941 and the inception of PT Boats, as depicted by Hollywood. Some see their true potential, some don’t. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Einsatz
Excellent mint quality disc of a John Ford classic. Delivered super fast. Very HappyPublished 12 days ago by Mr. William Ogden
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