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Movie Review

PT 109

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Older Child to Adult
War Docudrama
2 hr. 39 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Cover Graphic from PT 109
Featuring: Cliff Robertson, Robert Culp, Ty Hardin, Robert Blake
Director: Leslie Martinson
Producer: _____
Distributor: Warner Bros.

This is the story of the wartime Navy service of Lt.(J.G.) John F. Kennedy on a Plywood Torpedo (PT) boat.

In addition to Cliff Robertson as Kennedy, the cast includes Robert Culp, Ty Hardin (who later became an evangelist) and a young Robert Blake plus several recognizable character actors. There’s no plot in the usual sense, but the film gives us an idea what WWII service might have been like—some combat, some danger, plus long periods of just getting ready, staying ready and doing your duty. Some comic relief is provided by an enlisted man who’s always trying to put in a fix to get away from the front, and by an outwardly gruff career officer who has to beg to be sent closer to the front.

One packaged version of this video is set up to mimic an actual 1963 night at the movies; it includes newsreel footage (of the Kennedy assassination) plus a cartoon and some “previews” of other ’63 films.

There are a few d* and h* words and some combat violence, but nothing like the war movies being made today. Depending on a child’s age and prior movie viewing habits, this film could be used as an introductory lesson on the price of our freedom. If you get the “night at the movies” version, the largest amount of editing for young children will be needed in some of the other material rather than in the feature film itself.

Viewer Comments
I actually used this movie when I student taught in American History. It’s a bit long, but gives a good side to President Kennedy, and the pacific front during WWII. It’s also tame compared to the violence most kids see today. Did my kids like it? Yes, most wanted to know if I could give them a list of similar movies they could rent. A good, clean, war movie. My Ratings: [3½/4½]
JK Perry, age 29