Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: TBD

They Were Expendable Details


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 ([[Performer~P116130~John Wayne~johnwayne]]), 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

  • Release date:December 20, 1945


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Douglas Shearer Best Sound 1945 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Arnold A. Gillespie Best Special Effects 1945 Nominee


Robert Montgomery
as Lt. John Brickley
John Wayne
as Lt. J.G. "Rusty" Ryan
Donna Reed
as Lt. Sandy Davys
Cameron Mitchell
as Ens. George Cross
Ward Bond
as Boats Mulcahey
Leon Ames
as Maj. James Morton
Marshall Thompson
as Ens. Snake Gardner
Paul Langton
as Ens. Andy Andrews
Jack Holt
as Gen. Martin
Donald Curtis
as Lt. J.G. "Shorty" Long
Jeff York
as Ens. "Lefty" Tony Aiken
Murray Alper
as Slug Mahan
Jack Pennick
as Doc Charlie
Alex Havier
as Benny Lacoco, Steward
Charles Trowbridge
as Adm. Blackwell
Bruce Kellogg
as Lt. Elder Tompkins
Tim Murdock
as Ens. Brown
Louis Jean Heydt
as Ohio, flyer in hospital
Russell Simpson
as Dad Knowland
Vernon Steele
as Army Doctor at Corregidor
Betty Blythe
as Officer's Wife
Leslie Sketchley
as Marine Orderly
Kermit Maynard
as Airport Officer
Sammy Stein
as Boat crewman
Sherry Hall
as Marine Major
Stubby Kruger
as Boat crewman
James Farley
as Mate
Jane Crowley
as Officers' Wife
Harry Tenbrook
as "Cookie" Squarehead Larsen
Jack Luden
as Naval Air Captain
Jack Mower
as Officer
Robert E. Homans
as Bartender at Manila Hotel
Blake Edwards
as Boat Crewman
Robert E. O'Connor
as Bartender at Silver Dollar
Michael Kirby
as Boat crewman
Billy Wilkerson
as Sgt. Smith
Philip Ahn
as Orderly
Tom Tyler
as Capt. on plane
William B. Davidson
as Hotel manager
Pedro de Cordoba
as Priest
Al Bridge
as Lt. Colonel
Emmett Vogan
as Navy Doctor
Eve March
as Nurse
Forbes Murray
as Navy Captain
Franklin Parker
as Navy Officer


John Ford
John Ford
Cliff Reid
Frank Wead
Joseph H. August
Herbert Stothart
Composer (Music Score)
Herbert Stothart
Douglas Biggs
Cedric Gibbons
Art Director
Edwin B. Willis
Set Designer
Arnold A. Gillespie
Special Effects