PT 109 (1963)

140 mins | Drama | 1963

Producer:

Bryan Foy

Cinematographer:

Robert Surtees

Production Designer:

Leo Kuter

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was PT Boat 109 . According to a 26 Mar 1962 DV article, Jeffrey Hunter, Peter Fonda, Chad Everett, Evan McCord and Edd Byrnes (who was most famous for his character “Kookie” on the two television series, Hawaiian Eye and 77 Sunset Strip ) tested for the starring role. McCord appeared in the completed film in a small role. A 26 Mar 1962 HR news item indicated that director Lewis Milestone would be replacing Raoul Walsh, who was initially announced as the film's director. According to a later article in the 23 Jul 1963 issue of Newsweek , Milestone initially withdrew from the production over concerns with the script. Milestone stated that Warner Bros. met his concerns and he continued with pre-production, including the casting of Cliff Robertson in the role of Lt. (jg) John F. Kennedy. In a 9 Sep 1962 LAEx news item, Milestone noted that President Kennedy approved of Roberston's casting. Milestone and the production began filming on location in Key West Florida, which doubled as the Solomon island of Tulagi, an area that had been captured from the Japanese by the U. S. Marines in Aug 1942. Tulagi served as the base for the U.S. PT Boat fleet for one year. After the release of the Newsweek article, where Milestone reiterated his concerns about the excessively humorous tone of the script, he was removed from the film by Warner Bros. and replaced by Leslie H. Martinson. In public comments about Milestone's firing, Warner Bros. stated that he had ... More Less

The working title of the film was PT Boat 109 . According to a 26 Mar 1962 DV article, Jeffrey Hunter, Peter Fonda, Chad Everett, Evan McCord and Edd Byrnes (who was most famous for his character “Kookie” on the two television series, Hawaiian Eye and 77 Sunset Strip ) tested for the starring role. McCord appeared in the completed film in a small role. A 26 Mar 1962 HR news item indicated that director Lewis Milestone would be replacing Raoul Walsh, who was initially announced as the film's director. According to a later article in the 23 Jul 1963 issue of Newsweek , Milestone initially withdrew from the production over concerns with the script. Milestone stated that Warner Bros. met his concerns and he continued with pre-production, including the casting of Cliff Robertson in the role of Lt. (jg) John F. Kennedy. In a 9 Sep 1962 LAEx news item, Milestone noted that President Kennedy approved of Roberston's casting. Milestone and the production began filming on location in Key West Florida, which doubled as the Solomon island of Tulagi, an area that had been captured from the Japanese by the U. S. Marines in Aug 1942. Tulagi served as the base for the U.S. PT Boat fleet for one year. After the release of the Newsweek article, where Milestone reiterated his concerns about the excessively humorous tone of the script, he was removed from the film by Warner Bros. and replaced by Leslie H. Martinson. In public comments about Milestone's firing, Warner Bros. stated that he had been replaced due to falling behind production schedule. Milestone contested the accusation, pointing out that he had been released immediately after his blunt script criticisms were made public in the Newsweek article.
       PT 109 marked the feature film debut of actor Robert Culp (1930--2010), who had had a prolific career on television throughout the 1950s. He continued to act in movies and television until shortly before his death. According to a 27 Feb 1963 LAT news item, PT 109 was the only film to date produced about the life of a sitting American president. After Kennedy's assassination on 22 Nov 1963, Warner Bros. pulled the film from release. It was returned to circulation to complete its initial run in Feb 1964. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1962.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1962.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 1962.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1962.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Feb 1963.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Jul 1963.
---
Newsweek
23 Jul 1962.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Prod
Pers supervisor
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Dial dir
Stills
Gaffer
Prop
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book PT 109, John F. Kennedy in World War II by Robert J. Donovan (New York, 1961).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
P T Boat 109
Release Date:
1963
Premiere Information:
Boston opening: 19 June 1963
Los Angeles opening: 2 July 1963
Production Date:
mid July 1962 in Key West, FL
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright Date:
27 January 1963
Copyright Number:
LP29447
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
140
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the early days of World War II, Lieut. (j.g.) John F. Kennedy arrives in the Solomon Islands to assume command of the battle-scarred PT 109. After making hasty repairs, he and his crew are sent to rescue a Marine patrol trapped on Choiseul. Though the mission is successful, the boat runs out of fuel and has to be towed back to base. Then, on the morning of August 2, 1943, while attempting to prevent the Japanese from landing troops at Vila, PT 109, having no radar equipment, is rammed and split in two by an enemy destroyer. Two of the men are killed, and Kennedy decides the only chance he and the other survivors have is to swim to a nearby island. One of the men is too badly burned to swim, and Kennedy tows him through the water. All efforts to make their location known fail until Kennedy writes a message on a coconut, which friendly natives take to nearby Rendova. They return with a canoe, hide Kennedy under palm fronds, and deliver him to an Australian coastwatcher. After directing the rescue of his men, Kennedy learns he is eligible for transfer home; instead, he elects to assume command of another PT ... +


In the early days of World War II, Lieut. (j.g.) John F. Kennedy arrives in the Solomon Islands to assume command of the battle-scarred PT 109. After making hasty repairs, he and his crew are sent to rescue a Marine patrol trapped on Choiseul. Though the mission is successful, the boat runs out of fuel and has to be towed back to base. Then, on the morning of August 2, 1943, while attempting to prevent the Japanese from landing troops at Vila, PT 109, having no radar equipment, is rammed and split in two by an enemy destroyer. Two of the men are killed, and Kennedy decides the only chance he and the other survivors have is to swim to a nearby island. One of the men is too badly burned to swim, and Kennedy tows him through the water. All efforts to make their location known fail until Kennedy writes a message on a coconut, which friendly natives take to nearby Rendova. They return with a canoe, hide Kennedy under palm fronds, and deliver him to an Australian coastwatcher. After directing the rescue of his men, Kennedy learns he is eligible for transfer home; instead, he elects to assume command of another PT boat. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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