American GI's must retake a barren hill in Korea that has been overrun by Red Chinese troops. The ensuing battle becomes a meat grinder for American and Chinese alike. This story of a an actual battle is all grit.
Gregory Peck ... Lt. Joe Clemons
Harry Guardino ... Pvt. Forstman
Rip Torn ... Lt. Walter Russel
George Peppard ... Cpl. Chuck Fedderson
Carl Benton Reid ... American Admiral at Peace Conference
James Edwards ... Cpl. Jurgens
Bob Steele ... Col. Kern
Woody Strode ... Pvt. Franklin
George Shibata ... Lt. Suki Ohashi
Norman Fell ... Sgt. Coleman
Lew Gallo ... Lieutenant, Division Public Relations
Robert Blake ... Pvt. Velie
Cliff Ketchum ... Cpl. Payne (radio operator)
Biff Elliot ... Pvt. Boven
Charles Aidman ... Lt. Harrold
I think when movies like Saving Private Ryan or Platoon came out people thought that these represented "new" insights on the war movie. Unfortunately, I guess they'd never seen a number of classic old films, such as Hell Is For Heroes (Steve McQueen), Sahara (Humphrey Bogart), or, indeed, Pork Chop Hill, starring Gregory Peck.
I've seen Pork Chop Hill three or four times. It is, from what I understand, a historically accurate account of one of the last fifty years' most famous battles, based on the book by famous military historian Gen. S. L. A. "Slam" Marshall. The scene is at the end of the Korean War. Negotiations between the combatants have stalemated. LT1 Joe Clemons (played by Gregory Peck) is ordered to take Pork Chop Hill, a basically worthless piece of territory to demonstrate to the Chinese and North Koreans that resolve had not flagged. So a night attack is ordered. Fog of war messes the whole thing up repeatedly and Clemons is left holding the bag, with his company of men stuck in the assault without the backup they expected to happen. The story is very human, particularly the interaction between Clemons and his second in command, Ohashi. You see men determined to win even though they know they might die (and for what?), men on the verge of breaking only to be rallied or not, the utter confusion of battle. The movie's got a lot of then-unknowns, but later stars, e.g., George Peppard, Rip Torn, etc.
Excellent war drama and realistic account of a courageous U.S. infantry unit trying to gain control of high ground held by snipers and flame throwers in Korea on the edge of Armistice in 1953. All-star cast that features Gregory Peck, Rip Torn, George Peppard, Woody Strode, Harry Guardino and Bob Steele. Also look for Robert Blake, Martin Landau and Gavin MacLeod in this grim and desperate military action. Peck is rock solid and in command. Directed by Lewis Milestone.
One of the finest (anti)war movies ever made is undoubtedly the 1930 epic All Quiet On The Western Front, directed by the incomparable Lewis Milestone. 29 years later, Milestone once again turned his attention to the waste and futility of war with Pork Chop Hill. This powerful and well-made Korean War drama is not quite in the same league as Milestone's earlier classic, but it still paints a vivid picture of the harsh realities of combat, and conveys a palpable sense of the pointlessness of war.
Lieutenant Clemons (Gregory Peck) is a honest, dependable American soldier fighting in the Korean War. He believes in carrying out orders whatever they may be, but his attitude is put to the ultimate test when he is instructed to lead an attack on a tactically insignificant hill in the dying days of the war. Issuing orders which he knows will lead to pointless loss of life, Clemons leads his men up the titular hill into a maelstrom of enemy gunfire, looking on in horror and dismay as his boys are gunned down or blown to bits in their futile quest.
After the film had been shot, Milestone was somewhat irritated to discover that the studio had tampered with his intentions, adding a misleading last-scene voice-over which tried to suggest that the victory on Pork Chop Hill made a significant difference to the future of millions of Koreans. The film is at its best when delivering its anti-war sensibilities, especially the bitter scenes showing honest young soldiers losing their lives for no particular reason. In historical terms, the capture of Pork Chop Hill was both costly in lives and irrelevant in consequence. The performances are generally first-rate. Peck is excellent as the man who tries to justify the insanity of what his platoon have been ordered to do. He gives his best performance since Twelve O'Clock High a decade earlier. Giving memorable supporting turns are familiar character actors like Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard and Martin Landau, all of them resisting the urge to appear as gung-ho heroes to add to the film's stance that war is a meaningless and expensive pursuit. There have been few genuinely worthy Korean War films but this one and M*A*S*H - released 11 years later - are certainly titles that anyone looking for authentic film treatments about the subject ought to seek out.