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The Marines attack a strongly held enemy island in the Pacific. We follow them from the beach to a Japanese rocket site through enemy infested jungle as their ex-school teacher leader is transformed into a battle veteran and his squad becomes a tight fighting unit. Written by
Derek Picken <email@example.com>
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During the battle at the cave, one of the "dead" Japanese soldiers at the cave entrance can be seen jumping up and going back into the cave. This appears to be the same soldier who is ultimately taken prisoner and interrogated. See more »
I was surprised that Halls of Montezuma was not an adapted play since a great deal of the action takes place in a cave that serves as a battalion headquarters where Colonel Richard Boone is trying to extract information from prisoners.
That in itself wasn't easy because the Japanese were not known for surrendering. Boone gives an order to try and take prisoners on this landing on an unnamed Pacific island.
Richard Widmark's company finds a few of them and it's a rough go and several members of Widmark's command die in the mission. The Japanese are firing a lot of rockets from a hill and the bombing from planes doesn't do any good. Before the big push towards that hill can be made those rockets have to be dealt with.
A lot of promising young players from 20th Century Fox were in Widmark's platoon like Robert Wagner, Jack Palance, Richard Hylton, Skip Homeier, Martin Milner. Some make it and some don't. There are several flashback sequences showing these guys in their civilian lives and earlier in the war.
At the headquarters there's also quite an assortment, Jack Webb a war correspondent, Philip Ahn an articulate Japanese prisoner who is a baseball player in civilian life and looking decidedly out of place there is the urbane Reginald Gardiner replete with cigarette holder. He's along for the ride because he's an expert on Japanese culture and psychology and speaks the language.
Halls of Montezuma is a good, not a great war film. Three performances do stand out. Karl Malden as the veterinarian now serving as a medic and career marine Bert Freed and his sergeant Neville Brand.
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