John Ford's THEY WERE EXPENDABLE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Compared with too many other World War II movies that came out of Hollywood during World War II THEY WERE EXPENDABLE released in December 1945 is exceptional. Character development is deft and economical even with minor characters. Action sequences are loud and exciting. Dialogue is crisp and well-written. Acting is excellent especially from lead Robert Montgomery whose own PT boat experience influenced his own performance.
Also praiseworthy is the non-jingoistic and non-racist tone of the film which accurately portrays the depressing sense of collapse of the U.S. military around the Philippines during the early days of the Pacific War. Also portrayed: how individual service personnel performed their duty despite the crushing Japanese advance.
One of the most telling scenes is the return of Montgomery’s squadron following its initial tangle with enemy aircraft. Having left a pristine and disciplined facility in a tropical location they return to a smoking ruin and find most of their support infrastructure gone. What finally dawns on them — and the viewer — is what they are up against.
Review copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald. Dennis is an independent project management consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia. He has worked throughout the U.S. and in Europe, Egypt, and China. His clients for project planning and project management have included the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, AIG, ASHP, and the National Library of Medicine. In addition to consulting company ownership and management his experience includes database publishing and data transformation, integration of large systems, corporate technology strategy, social media adoption, statistical research, and IT cost analysis. His web site is located at www.ddmcd.com and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter he is @ddmcd.