John Ford's poetic adaptation of William White's book about a PT boat squadron in the South Pacific during World War II may be the best feature film on the war in that theater and is considered by some scholars, including British director Lindsay Anderson, as Ford's greatest work. Just before the outbreak of the war, Lt. John Brickley (Robert Montgomery) is assigned to take his Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron to Manila Bay to defend against a possible Japanese attack in the Philippines. Once there, he finds that the top brass, amused by the idea that the small crafts can be of use in combat, relegates the PT boat to messenger duty. Angered by that reaction, Brickley and his crew must wait for the war to begin to show what they can do. When it does, they shoot down three Japanese planes during an attack on their base, but when the base is closed Brick's squadron is reassigned to Bataan, where they once again are ordered to run messages, and Brickley's fiery executive officer, Lt. Rusty Ryan (John Wayne), fed up with such meaningless duty, asks to be transferred to a destroyer. The embodiment of Milton's tag that "they also serve who stand and wait," Ford's elegiac film pays tribute to all who donned a uniform during the war, whatever their role. Montgomery, who shared in the film's direction, gives the best noncomic performance of his career as the evenhanded CO. But in a visually arresting film that could provide a formidable emotional impact even without the use of sound, it's the eloquent compositions of director of photography Joseph H. August that resonate most powerfully.
Leon Ames - American Actor
Leon Waycoff - American Actor
Herbert Stothart - American Composer/Arranger
Robert Montgomery - American Actor/Director
Henry Montgomery - American Actor/Director
Donald Curtis - Actor/"Fuller Brush Man"
Paul Langton - American Actor
Ward Bond - American Character Actor
Frank Hull - Editor
Frank E. Hull - Editor
John Ford - American Director, THE SEARCHERS (1956)
Sean Aloysius O'Feeney - American Director, THE SEARCHERS (1956)
Marshall Thompson - American TV Actor/"Daktari"
Joseph H. August - American Director of Photography
Joseph August - American Director of Photography
Cedric Gibbons - Art Director/In USA
John Wayne - Oscar winning actor, TRUE GRIT, SANDS OF IWO JIMA
Marion Michael Morrison - Oscar winning actor, TRUE GRIT, SANDS OF IWO JIMA
Duke Morrison - Oscar winning actor, TRUE GRIT, SANDS OF IWO JIMA
Donna Reed - American Film/TV Actress
Donna Belle Mullenger - American Film/TV Actress
Frank Wead - American Screenwriter
Spig Wead - American Screenwriter
Lt. Comdr. Frank Wead - American Screenwriter
Following the devastation of Pearl Harbor, two navy skippers take their small PT boats into action against the immense Japanese cruisers.
Additional cast: Arthur Walsh (Seaman Jones); Harry Teabrook ("Squarehead" Larsen, SC 2c); Alex Havier ("Benny" Lecoco, ST 3c); Tim Murdock (Ensign Brant); Vernon Steele (Army Doctor). Additional credits: Douglas Biggs (editor). Many people involved in this film had recently served in the Navy, including star Robert Montgomery. Furthermore, the film received the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy.
"...[Robert Montgomery] gives the best performance of his career..." - 06/16/1992 USA Today, p.6D
5 stars out of 5 -- "Ford's experiences in combat documentary are clear, but what's surprising for modern viewers is its measured, even downbeat tone....This is a nuanced and at times fatalistic study of men at arms..." - 05/01/2006 Uncut, p.152
3 stars out of 5 -- "[A] very watchable monochrome WWII piece....[With] a strong supporting cast..." - 07/01/2006 Ultimate DVD, p.113