They Were Expendable (1945)

TSPDT Greatest Films #451 They Were Expendable (John Ford, 1945)

During the Pacific War, John Ford wanted to support the troops with the one thing he mastered the best; filmmaking. He got in the Pacific Islands with color films to shot the battles of the US Navy. The ended up being the documentary Battle of Midway on those battles that earned him a permanent title of Captain for the US Navy. The filmmaking and the storyteller he was wanted todo even more, he directed They Were Expendable. A film about the self involvement of the US Navy into this war.

As many of his Westerns, Cavalry trilogy or any genre he would approach, with success I may say, Ford shows the collective effort and family-like involvement human beings must accomplish to realize their mission. This spirit of group is even stronger here in a film about the Navy. Every character has his strenght and should use it the best he can. This is not a film made for propaganda but to commemorate and honor those men who give their lives and soul for these battles. My favorite scene in the film involves Rusty Ryan (John Wayne) and Sally Harris (Donna Reed), the moment when they go dancing and they sit on the hamac. This is a very sentimental but also very well filmed with dark lighting and beautiful shots of the couple. It shows how Ford can film battle sequences with reality but he also can create a scene that recreates a real romance.

I did knew what to expect from The Were Expendable but it goes right into one of my favorite Ford films so far. Still, there are so many I haven't watched yet that it will be too soon to make a Top list of his films. Maybe in 2011 you'll have the chance to discover this list...

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