They Were Expendable

They Were Expendable is a 1945 American war film directed by John Ford, starring Robert Montgomery and John Wayne, and featuring Donna Reed. The film is based on the 1942 novel of the same name by William Lindsay White, relating the story of the exploits of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, a United States PT boat unit defending the Philippines against Japanese invasion during the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42) in World War II.


In December 1941 Lt. John "Brick" Brickley (Robert Montgomery) commands a squadron of agile but small and unproven U.S. Navy PT boats based at Cavite in the Philippines. He puts on a demonstration of their maneuverability and seakeeping capabilities for the senior area commander, Admiral Blackwell (Charles Trowbridge), who remains unimpressed by their diminutive size and lightweight construction. Lt. J.G. "Rusty" Ryan (John Wayne), Brick's executive officer and friend, is hot on getting into combat. He becomes disgusted at the admiral's close-minded dismissal and is writing his request for transfer to destroyer duty when news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor arrives by radio bulletin.