Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rent this: They Were Expendable

They Were Expendable- 1945- 135 min.

Directed by the late great John Ford, and adapted from the William L. White novel, They Were Expendable is an underrated WWII Navy drama, that kind of gets thrown by the way side when discussing some of Ford's best work. But I personally think it's a gem of a film and if you want to see an good old school movie, this I feel is one of Ford and Wayne's best collaborations. Released in 1945, it stars Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Ward Bond and Cameron Mitchell in main roles.

The premise starts with a demonstration of the capabilities of PT boats is shown in Manila Bay, Philippines in December 1941. Lieutenant (junior grade) 'Rusty' Ryan (John Wayne) becomes disgusted when his superiors refuse to see the small boats as viable naval craft and is in the process of writing his request for a transfer to destroyers when news arrives of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ryan and Lieutenant John Brickley's (Robert Montgomery) demands for combat assignments for their squadron are frustrated for a time, but they are eventually allowed to show their capabilities. From there on, there are mostly 'action' scenes, with the exception of Ryan's romantic interludes with Army nurse Sandy Davyss (Donna Reed). With the mounting Japanese onslaught against the doomed American garrisons at Bataan and Corregidor, the squadron is sent to evacuate General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and a party of VIPs.

This done, they resume their attacks against the Japanese, who gradually whittle down the squadron. As boats are lost, their crews are sent to fight as infantry. Finally, the last boat is turned over to the Army for messenger duty. Brickley, Ryan and two ensigns are airlifted out on one of the last planes because the PT boats have proved their worth and they are needed stateside to train replacement PT boat officers and crews. The remaining enlisted men, led by Chief Mulcahey, are left behind to continue the fight with remnants of the U.S. Army and Filipino guerrillas.

The film received two Oscar nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. The cinematography was shot by Joseph August ( The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, The Devil and Daniel Webster )

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Started to really pay attention to film ( movies ) what was going on in front of the camera, but more interestingly, behind it as well at about as far back as age 10. Motion pictures ( when good ) are a fascinating medium. All the work and prep that goes into filmmaking. It's an amazing process !