Saturday, November 11, 2006

They Were Expendable

On Veterans Day, I recommend a movie that honors those who serve by describing their resilience. In 1945, John Ford made They Were Expendable, one the very best movies about the WW II experience.
John Wayne and Robert Montgomery star in this film about an all but forgotten PT boat squadron in the Pacific that takes a pounding from the Japanese. The movie portrays men struggling to do their part in an enormous war effort, caught up in a war that stretches thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. The scene that lingers in my mind is not one of heroism in battle, but of a rag-tag group of sailors marching across a lonely island, with no ship and no mission, still determined to do their duty.
The good guys don't win in the end, at least not in the movie convention of victory in battle. Instead they triumph by perservering in a conflict so immense that the plight of a few lost sailors is easily overlooked.


Blogger Catbird said...

That's a great movie, and beautifully shot. (How can you go wrong with Ward Bond and Donna Reed in the supporting cast?) I find that final scene especially poignant, since the sailors are trudging off as their commanding officers are airlifted out. Some are more expendable than others.

12:32 AM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger jason said...

Stalag 17 is on TCM right now. For my money that is the best WWII movie.

William Holden is great as the cynical tough guy Sefton who does not give a shit about how much negative attention he draws to himself. He is patient and determined to find the rat. And yet when he discovers that PEter Graves is the spy - he uses the information to his own advantage in a way that also promotes the greater good.

7:07 PM, November 12, 2006  

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