John Wayne and Robert Montgomery star in and John Ford directs a resolute tale of World War II courage: They Were Expendable. The two stars portray PT-boat skippers who defend the Philippines and give the U.S. war effort t... more »ime to regroup after the crippling losses at Pearl Harbor. Wayne takes to the skies with the Flying Leathernecks, leading embattled Marine fighter squadron VMF 247 at Guadalcanal and also campaigning to coordinate ground combat with low-flying aerial sorties. Nicholas Ray directs, mixing in actual battlefield and dogfight footage. Robert Ryan co-stars.« less
Barbara R. from STERLING, CO Reviewed on 12/8/2015...
One of 10 best war movies ever
Professor Emeritus P. Bagnolo | DOWNTOWN NYC/Chic. NM USA | 06/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THEY WERE EXPENDABLE Maybe because I was just a little kid, and the war was still raging, (1945) but nearing an end. Maybe it was partially because my grandfather took me to see this movie as he took me to see other movies every Saturday, and maybe it was because my Polio was gone and I could walk and run again, but mostly because my uncle was the skipper of a PT boat and knew JFK. Great Direction by John Ford, with his regular crew plus Robert Montgomery, (John Wayne, Donna Reed, Ward Bond) and many other great stars gave outstanding performances in an authentic, tropic ambiance displayed convincingly, though in Black and white.
The missions, struggles, disappointments, amiable characters just doing a very tough, under-appreciated job in plywood PT boat's which the navy and marines didn't entirely trust.
The secondary question was; would Monty and The Duke bring home a winner, or switch to submarines?
This is a short intro of the coming of age of a PT boat fleet, the hopelessness that hung like a black cloud of Damocles just above the heads of the officers and grunts in what then seemed a losing effort, but one in which they kept grinding on with the stiff-upper lip, hard bitten, toughness of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things.
At this point in the war, the US was not yet winning, and beneath the surface the fighting men and women worried, more about whose fate was unknown than themselves. The milieu and attitudes of the characters gave one a feeling of what it really must have been like in those dark times. When my uncle came back from action a year later, he said it was one of his favorite war films-authentic and revealing.
FLYING LEATHERNECKS The second film, made in 1951, which was filmed in Technicolor, Flying Leather Necks, directed by Nicolas Ray and starring Wayne, Robert Ryan and an excellent supporting cast, was a typical fighter pilot film, well done, filled with the conflicts, misunderstandings, emotional struggles with tensions of death and mistakes and orders which are hard to follow at times. A good film but less of a classic than the Black and white above. Besides all of that, one Great film, one good film and a terrific price. By the way, this movie borrows just a bit of its plot from a 1938 Howard Hawks directed, Errol Flynn, vehicle: Dawn Patrol. The rankling relationship of Wayne with Robert Ryan, is almost parallel to Flynn's relationship to his commanding officer, Basil Rathbone. Except in this film, the roles are reversed. Here, the leading man, Wayne is the commander, and Ryan his second in command. However, in Dawn Patrol, the underling, Flynn is the leading man and co-star Rathbone his commander. "
John Wayne does it right on the sea and in the air
Heavy Cruiser Model Maker | Dallas, TX USA | 08/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""They Were Expendable" is a true story about the first real action of PT boats in the second world war, as it occurred in the Phillipines in the early months of 1942. "The Fleet the Gods Forgot" by Winslow includes an account of Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 which closely matches the movie, and includes additional accounts of heroic action by the men who served in the squadron.
"Flying Leathernecks" is an incredible piece of history, showing F6F Hellcat fighters and F4U Corsair fighters in air operations in the Pacific and on Essex class aircraft carriers. If you enjoy seeing these historic ships and planes in real color, you should also consider "Dive Bomber" with Fred McMurray which shows air operations in 1941 on the USS Enterprise (CV-5).
These are great movies for any 2nd world war history buff."
PT BOAT CREWS
Frederick P. Wingfield | Chicago Illinois | 08/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Great epic of our fathers fight for our freedom. We should all appreciate this vanishing breed of Americans.
Semper-Fi USMC 1966-1973"
Double Feature: They Were Expendable / Flying Leathernecks
Robert T. Lukomski | Milwaukee, WI, USA | 08/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two of the most entertaining war films packaged into one case. Hard to go wrong with this. The film quality is clear, no issues with sound or visual. If you enjoy war films with a good storyline, ineresting characters and well-directed/acted, then I strongly suggest this double feature package."
"Expendable" alone is worth the price..."Leathernecks" an ad
mpsparty1 | Berkley, Michigan USA | 12/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""They Were Expendable" has to be among the most underated war movies ever! There is little else to say except that this is an outstanding movie. "Leathernecks" is a good one also, and provides an interesting comparison for the movie buff. Side by side like this, one can easily come to a conclusion about the repective directors. A critical look at these two together shows just how good John Ford was. Not to knock "Leathernecks", but Ford is the best director Hollywood likely ever had, and it shows in making a terrifc movie about...excuse me....but, P.T. boats??! Who else ever tried that and hit a home run?"