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Grim story of one of the major battles of the Korean War. While negotiators are at work in Panmunjom trying to bring the conflict to a negotiated end, Lt. Joe Clemons is ordered to launch an attack and retake Pork Cop Hill. It's tough on the soldiers who know that the negotiations are under way and no one wants to die when they think it will all soon be over. The hill is of no particular strategic military value but all part of showing resolve during the negotiations. Under the impression that the battle has been won, battalion headquarters orders some of the men withdrawn when in fact they are in dire need of reinforcements and supplies. As the Chinese prepare to counterattack and broadcast propaganda over loudspeakers, the men prepare for what may be their last battle. Written by
Gregory Peck, glorious black and white, and intense action--what more do you want?
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.
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