John Brickley (Robert Montgomery) believes in PT boats, and as a lowly U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed in the Philippines, that makes him a radical thinker. "Your boats maneuver beautifully," an admiral (Charles Trowbridge) tells him, "but if I'm going into combat, I prefer something a little more substantial." The gently delivered but stinging ...
John Brickley (Robert Montgomery) believes in PT boats, and as a lowly U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed in the Philippines, that makes him a radical thinker. "Your boats maneuver beautifully," an admiral (Charles Trowbridge) tells him, "but if I'm going into combat, I prefer something a little more substantial." The gently delivered but stinging dismissal stirs the resentment of Lt. "Rusty" Ryan (John Wayne), who tartly tells Brickley that he wants to be transferred to destroyers. The Pearl Harbor bombing makes transfer impossible, especially with the Japanese preparing to invade the islands. So Brickley and Ryan go to work, first as message carriers between the Philippines and Corregidor, then, finally, as ship hunters. They record some successes, but it's a doomed effort: The Americans are hopelessly outnumbered by the Japanese, and with almost all of the Pacific Fleet destroyed at Pearl Harbor, they know help won't arrive to save them. As the Japanese push the U.S. forces back, Brickley and Ryan and their crews hop from island to island, scrounging supplies and taking casualties but keeping up the fight. Just as it appears that they will be forced to fight on Corregidor against the Japanese, they get rescued; they're ordered home to promote their PT-boat successes, and they take the last plane out, hoping to return and avenge their defeats. Nick Sambides, Jr., Rovi
The movie They Were Expendable (1945) is based on the book of the same title by W. L. White. The movie essentially follows the same sequence of events as the book. Though viewers do not have to read the book to understand the movie, viewers of the film will get more out of the movie if they read the book first. The story centers on motor torpedo boat operations in the Philippines in late 1941 and early 1942 as the American forces retreated from the advancing Japanese army and navy. Despite great odds, and, knowing that there was not much hope for the expendable army and navy, Americans fought on to the very end until overwhelmed by enemy forces. Both Robert Montgomery and John Wayne make great performances as the chief naval officers involved in the story. Titles on the soundtrack include Eternal Father, Strong to Save; Battle Hymn of the Republic; Battle Cry of Freedom; and Anchors Aweigh. Though the name Douglas MacArthur is not mentioned in the film, his brief presence in the movie is significant. One can easily detect the sense of patriotic resolve from the cast in this great World War II film.