Pacific Overtures: “PT 109” (1963)

pt1092               “PT 109”  (1963)

     Much can be determined from the character of a person by the substance of an autobiographical tome. In the case of “PT 109”, so much influence was exerted on thePT109OS making of the film by then-sitting President John F. Kennedy (under the assured “personal supervision” of White House bootlicker Jack Warner), that it is no wonder an interesting story has been waylaid for a peculiar brand of cinematic honorific in which the young lieutenant is incessantly seen heroically posed on the bridge while the scoring of David Buttolph and William Lava  provides enough celebratory brass to make John Philip Sousa cry foul.

     Covering the period between Kennedy’s arrival in the South Pacific and his assuming command of a post-shipwreck PT 59, the film makes claims for a high level of historical accuracy while suspiciously wading through the same menu offerings of wartime movie cliches (the derelict equipment that has to be polished on an impossibly short schedule for inspection, the colorful crewmates including a cook- mercifully not referred to here as “Cookie”  -giving  familiar if muted, the hardnosed commander who is a softy at heart), none of which reveals a hint at an individual of extraordinary character who merits a worshipful film portrait exclusive of a future ascendancy to national office. In fact, the film’s reveling in a depiction of the future president as something of a smartass cowboy whose reckless behavior is destructive to government property second only to the several Japanese air raids which predictably occur to help distract from the fact that, for the most part, very little of consequence is happening through most of the film.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in biography, books, Boston, History, Movies, war movies, World War II, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pacific Overtures: “PT 109” (1963)

  1. tashpix says:

    I’ve never seen PT 109, but as a Massachusetts resident less than enamored of the plaster saints of Hyannisport, believe me the failure to see the film was deliberate. Sounds as if I haven’t missed anything.

  2. beetleypete says:

    Even as a youngster, and an avid fan of any war film, I thought this was lame.
    Best wishes, R. Nixon.

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