Directed by John Ford
Starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Ward Bond, Jack Holt
If you ask me, and you didn’t, John Ford’s They Were Expendable (1945) is the greatest war movie ever made. It’s inspiring, exciting and heartbreaking — all at the same time. Ford and George Montgomery both served in the Navy (Montgomery on PT Boats), and the picture has a grittiness to it that seems so real it’s uncomfortable at times. And Donna Reed in a t-shirt and ball cap is more stunning than in the nicest dress she ever wore in her TV show. She’s just terrific in this.
Folks, They Were Expendable is as good as movies get. I’m sure Joseph H. August’s cinematography will be stunning in high definition. Thanks to Warner Archive for putting this one together. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Durham’s Carolina Theatre is bringing two fine, funny films to town on Friday, July 17: Mister Roberts (1955) and No Time For Sergeants (1958).
Directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon
Henry Fonda had already been a smash on Broadway in Mister Roberts by the time he and director John Ford started the movie. They didn’t see eye to eye on how to the approach the material, and Ford left the project midstream (I’m skipping over the tales of drunkenness and fisticuffs). Mervyn LeRoy was brought in to finish the picture. It’s hard to say who did what, but the result is wonderful. You can’t beat that cast: Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon, Ward Bond and so on.
No Time For Sergeants
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Andy Griffith, Myron McCormick, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton, Don Knotts, Dub Taylor
No Time For Sergeants follows Georgia boy Will Stockdale (Andy Griffith) as he’s drafted into the Air Force. It’s hilarious — and it went a long way toward making Griffith a star. He’s joined by Don Knotts, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton and Dub Taylor. This time, Mervyn LeRoy directed the whole thing. Good God, this is a funny movie.