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One Minute to Zero (1952)

Approved | | War, Drama | August 1952 (USA)
During the early days of the Korean War, U.S. Army colonel Steve Janowski is one of the military advisers training the South Korean army and he's tasked with evacuating American civilians from the war zone.




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Complete credited cast:
Col. Steve Janowski
Mrs. Linda Day
Col. John Parker
Sfc. Baker
Margaret Sheridan ...
Mary Parker
Capt. Ralston
Dr. Gustav Engstrand
Robert Osterloh ...
Maj. Davis
Robert Gist ...
Maj. Carter


Wartime drama about an idealistic young UN official (Ann Blyth) who finds out about the horrors of war when she falls in love with Colonel Steve Janowski (Robert Mitchum), the officer in charge of evacuating citizens from Korea. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Love That Lived with Danger! See more »


War | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

August 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Operation O  »

Box Office


$2,181,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edmund Grainger replaced Sam Bischoff as producer in early May 1951. See more »


During an attack on enemy ground targets by American jets, witnessed by the main American characters, one jet is shot down. As it dives downwards, an explosion meant to represent the moment the plane hits the ground, takes place underneath it before it actually does so. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: This is the story of a small detachment of American troops stationed in South Korea at the Outbreak of hostilities and their efforts to stem the surge of enemy aggression until the full force of British, American and other United Nations forces could be brought into action. See more »


When I Fall in Love
Written by Victor Young and Edward Heyman
See more »

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User Reviews

Forgettable Except for One Segment
30 January 2009 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Rather dreary Korean War drama where everybody appears to be performing "by the numbers". There's none of the intensity expected of those life-and-death situations that distinguish the era's better war films (Bridges of Toko-Ri; Pork Chop Hill; Retreat, Hell!). The action never really gels, which I suppose is the fault of director Garnett who appears disengaged from what's on screen. It doesn't help that the screenplay also appears stitched together from a host of war movie clichés, few of which stick around long enough to establish themselves—the wives, the ethnic grunts, the lonely orphan. It's like a runner in baseball thinking he has to touch all 100 bases before he can score.

Of course, the film does contain one dramatic highlight that caused considerable controversy at the time, but has since proved revealing—the intentional shelling of civilian refugees by American forces. The screenplay tries to soften the impact with North Korean infiltrators holding refugees at gunpoint, but the destruction occurs anyway. Now, that was really a pretty gutsy move on somebody's part since the war was still going on when the movie was released in 1952.

Though not publicized at the time, we now know from proved incidents such as No Gun-Ri (There was more than one eye-witness, and the only dispute is over the number killed) that such atrocities did occur on our side as well as the enemy's. And though not included in highschool history texts, there was considerable sympathy for the North from the peasantry of the South because of the landlord-dominated government of the South, many of which had collaborated with hated Japanese occupiers during WWII. As a result, considerable guerilla activity occurred in the South both before and during the war itself. Details such as these cast light on the basic accuracy of the movie's depiction. Ironically, the problem for GI's was the same here as in Vietnam—how to distinguish friendly civilians from the enemy, while too often the solution was to kill them all. But when your own life is on the line, what do you do? That's why Mitchum's Col. Janowski is so torn.

Apparently studio honcho Howard Hughes had high hopes for the production since his name appears above the title. And even though the seams from stock footage are pretty obvious, the film is well produced with locations at Fort Carson, Colorado, where the terrain was said to resemble that of Korea. But background and special effects can hardly compensate for the general listlessness of the results or the ill-conceived Ann Blyth role. Nonetheless, the movie does remain memorable for its one revealing episode.

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