This is a beta version of NNDB
Search: for
They Were Expendable (20-Dec-1945)

Director: John Ford

Writer: Frank Wead

Based on a book: They Were Expendable by William L. White

Musical Score: Herbert Stothart

Keywords: Drama, WWII, Pacific Theater

American Navy men use PT boats to fight the Japanese in the early days of World War II, defending the Philippines. The war is going badly, and these professionals stubbornly carry on despite the vulnerability of their situation. Standout war film by John Ford, unusual in that its subject matter is catastrophic defeat. Beautiful cinematography. Received Oscar nominations for Best Sound Recording and Best Special Effects.

[watch trailer]

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Leon Ames
20-Jan-1902 12-Oct-1993 Character actor, a SAG founder
Robert Barrat
10-Jul-1889 7-Jan-1970 The Kennel Murder Case
Ward Bond
9-Apr-1903 5-Nov-1960 Wagon Train
Louis Jean Heydt
17-Apr-1905 29-Jan-1960 American character actor
Jack Holt
31-May-1888 18-Jan-1951 They Were Expendable
Cameron Mitchell
4-Nov-1918 6-Jul-1994 The High Chaparral
Robert Montgomery
21-May-1904 27-Sep-1981 Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Donna Reed
27-Jan-1921 14-Jan-1986 The Donna Reed Show
Russell Simpson
17-Jun-1880 12-Dec-1959 The Grapes of Wrath
Marshall Thompson
27-Nov-1925 18-May-1992 To Hell and Back
Charles Trowbridge
10-Jan-1882 30-Oct-1967 The Great Lie
John Wayne
26-May-1907 11-Jun-1979 The Duke
Jeff York
23-Mar-1912 11-Oct-1995 Reno McKee on The Alaskans


Robert Montgomery   ...   Lt. John Brickley
John Wayne   ...   Lt. (j.g.) Rusty Ryan
Donna Reed   ...   Lt. Sandy Davyss
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
Cameron Mitchell   ...   Ens. George Cross
Jeff York   ...   Ens. Tony Aiken
Murray Alper   ...   Slug Mahan
Harry Tenbrook   ...   Squarehead Larsen
Jack Pennick   ...   Doc
Alex Havier   ...   Benny Lecoco
Charles Trowbridge   ...   Adm. Blackwell
Robert Barrat   ...   The General
Bruce Kellogg   ...   Elder Tompkins
Tim Murdock   ...   Ens. Brant
Louis Jean Heydt   ...   Ohio
Russell Simpson   ...   Dad Knowland
Vernon Steele   ...   Army Doctor


Review by JERRY FREDERICK (posted on 13-Dec-2007)

The brief but reluctant and cautiously undeniable relationship between Donna Reed's character and that of John Wayne is heartbreaking when it is obvious that the last (cut short phone call) that they share will be the end of them and any chance of a future together, with John Waynes character following orders to evacuate his PT boat and crew and leave the Bataan penisula knowing full damn well that Donna Reeds character may not survive what is coming with the enevidable advance of the Japanese army and its barbaric tactics of occupation. Tactics that were well known to the American Navy brass from the way the Japanese Empire swept into China. So much is said between them during that scene but with out it obviously having to be being said. The feelings that these two victims of war have for each other is very heart felt to the viewer. John Waynes charcter knows that there is nothing he can do for her, he can't save her or hold her or swap spots with her, all he can do is walk away and do his duty and pray that she survives. This movie is so full of sacrfice and pain with no glorifing of war.

Review by BARNEY (posted on 7-Aug-2007)

It was a very riveting movie in all respects, very well done technologically and dramatically. The historical parts were excellent, and for the people who did not live at that time it will probably be very enlightening to them. The action scenes were very well done and all in all it was a superb and very memorable movie, one of the best ever done by John Ford!

Review by anonymous (posted on 29-May-2005)

Truly one of the all time classic War Movies.....how could it not be, with John Ford (WWII Navy Commander) Robert Montgomery (WWII Navy Lt Commander) Donna Reed and of course, the "Duke", John Wayne. The lead character, Lt Brickley is more than loosely based on Lt John Bulkely, a WWII PT Boat Commander and the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Great detail shots, exact (correct) small arms used throughout the movie. A close glimpse of the pre-war and early WWII Navy in the Phillipines.

Review by DAKOTA KID (posted on 15-Jul-2007)

Brilliant movie & absolutely authentic. Much like The Longest Day, it utilized only actual weapons, boats, etc. Montgomery & Wayne worked well together & Donna Reed and the Duke (both from Iowa)had great chemistry. It is a terrific watch

Have you seen this film? We would love to see your review.
Submit your review for this film

Do you know something we don't?
Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile

Copyright ©2019 Soylent Communications