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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 Under the impression that the battle has been won, battalion headquarters orders some of the men withdrawn when in fact they are in dire need of reinforcements and supplies.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
Take a look at the jagged line that represents the boundary truce line between North and South Korea on a map. You'll then have some idea of what Pork Chop Hill is all about.
While the armistice talks are going on in Panmunjom, both sides are jockeying for position on both sides. The truce line will be on a prescribed latitude parallel, but owing to various hills and valleys, adjustments are in order. Those adjustments are costing lives though.
While the talks are in their final stages the Communists prove intransigent about a particular piece of real estate called Pork Chop Hill that really has no significant value. But as Carl Benton Reid at the talks says it's value is it has no value. The Communists are just using it as a test of wills, filed for future reference.
Gregory Peck as Lieutenant Joe Clemons gets the dirty task of leading his men into battle for no real discernible reason. How he keeps his men going is the real story here.
Joe Clemons was a real army lieutenant who wrote a book on his real experiences on literally the last day of the Korean War. Peck is an inspirational Clemons and I'm sure the real Clemons must have liked it.
Scattered in the cast are such future movie and television names as George Peppard, Harry Guardino, Gavin McLeod, Robert Blake, and Norman Fell. But the best performance in the film without a doubt belongs to Woody Strode. He's fully conscious of the racism he's feeling at home just before the civil rights revolution and can't really come up with a reason to die for Korea or do time in the army stockade for desertion. His scenes with Peck and with fellow black GI James Edwards just crackle with heat and talent. I'm surprised no one considered Strode for Best Supporting Actor.
Lewis Milestone who directed THE anti-war film, All Quiet On the Western Front is at the top of his game in Pork Chop Hill. A really good film about a sadly forgotten conflict.
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