Crew of ‘PT 109’ doesn’t give up

“PT 109” is a movie based on the real-life wartime experiences of John F. Kennedy. In 1947, Kennedy was a young naval officer who obtained command of his own PT boat during World War II. The story centers on the man who was elected president of the United States in 1960. Few movies have ever timed their release better. The plot centers on Kennedy’s boat, the crew and the command. During an encounter, his PT boat is destroyed by a Japanese ship. The surviving PT crew members swim to an island, which is under Japanese command. They avoid capture and eventually return to the States. A pretty simple story, but stories of bravery are many times very simple.

The success of this movie was not only due to its release time but because of the outstanding cast. Academy Award winner Cliff Robinson plays JFK. Personally, I think he is one of the best actors to ever play the president. The supporting cast is filled with other popular movie and television stars of the 1960s. Ty Hardin was a television star and a matinee idol. He had two television series in the 1960s. Other popular actors were Robert Culp, who starred in several television series and dozens of movies. Another television star who had a role in the film was Robert Blake. Several good character actors filled out the cast: Norman Fell, James Gregory and Michael Pate. You’ll know their faces but few can remember their names. That is the “curse” of being a character actor.

This is an appropriate film to be showing over the Fourth of July extended weekend because of its patriotic theme.

Show times are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit the theater for tours and check out the gallery and exhibit hall which features Iowa stage and film memorabilia and information. Call the Orpheum Theater Center movie hotline at 641-844-5907 or visit

Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher. LaVille’s Critic’s Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican.