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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The meaning and relevance of this movie's title Halls of Montezuma (1951) is that it represents the first line of the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps which is known as the Marine's Hymn. This song is the oldest official song in the United States military. The first few lines go like this: "From the Halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli; We fight our country's battles In the air, on land, and sea; First to fight for right and freedom And to keep our honor clean; We are proud to claim the title Of United States Marine." The second line, To the Shores of Tripoli (1942) is also an American military movie as well. See more »
Coffman is listed as "Coffman" in the credits, but the name on his jacket is spelled "Koffman." 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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