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The Hill (1965)

Approved | | Drama, War | 11 June 1965 (France)
In a North African military prison during World War II, five new prisoners struggle to survive in the face of brutal punishment and sadistic guards.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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The Medical Officer (as Sir Michael Redgrave)
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Commandant
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Burton
Howard Goorney ...
Walters
Tony Caunter ...
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Storyline

WWII, in a British disciplinary camp located in the Libyan desert. Prisoners are persecuted by Staff Sergeant Williams, who made them climb again and again, under the heavy sun, an artificial hill built right in the middle of the camp. Harris is a more human and compassionate guard, but the chief, S.M. Wilson, refuses to disown his subordinate Williams. One day, five new prisoners arrive. Each of them will deal in a different way with the authority and Williams' ferocity. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They went up like men! They came down like animals!

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 June 1965 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Haufen toller Hunde  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Caine turned down the role of Staff Sergeant Williams in order to star in Alfie (1966). See more »

Goofs

Late in the movie, RSM Wilson circles the broken Tpr Roberts delivering a motivational barracking, the camera following Wilson through 360 degrees.

The sequence is preceded by a long shot of Wilson and Roberts surrounded by ten yards of empty desert.

As Wilson utters the words "You'll double, drill, do anything...", the camera pan reveals Sgt Williams standing a yard or two away, and Sgt Harris alone at the medical hut doorway in the distance.

After dealing with Roberts, Wilson turns to face the medical hut doorway, where Williams and Harris are standing side by side.

Wilson then summons Williams, who trots over to assume the position he was just seen in. See more »

Quotes

Jock McGrath: You're a clever bag of tricks, you are, Roberts. Not inside glasshouse half an hour and you use your bloody influence to get us a ride on the hill. Oh I bet, there's one Saturday night booze up your father's always regretted.
See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: By Sidney Lumet (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Gritty prison drama, superbly acted by all.
9 January 1999 | by (Falls Church, Virginia) – See all my reviews

"The Hill" is the first of five films Sean Connery made with Sidney Lumet, and is one of the best, largely because it focuses on ensemble acting, and because each of the actors are up to the task.

The film is set in a North African prison camp during World War II, where a group of five inmates (Connery, Ossie Davis, Roy Kinnear, Alfred Lynch and Jack Watson) have just been assigned. The Sergeant-Major who runs things at the camp (Harry Andrews) has a novel theory about rehabilitation -- break down the wills of the inmates by repeatedly running them up and down a sandy hill built in the middle of the compound, then rebuild them as model soldiers. Despite the martinet-type attitude, Connery and each of his fellow inmates begins to rebel against Andrews and his new, sadistic assistant (Ian Hendry), culminating in the death of one of the inmates and the consequent attempt to cover up the incident.

In black-and-white, Lumet has done a remarkable job of giving the location the feel of hell-on-earth, and his noted ability to work with actors is visible here. Connery is excellent in the second-best performance of his career (the best was his 1973 performance in "The Offence", also with Lumet directing) as a career soldier whose not all that certain that the Army's outdated discipline is worth anything. Equally good performances are turned in by Davis as a West Indian soldier who takes the racist barbs of his jailers and rebels in his own, unique way; Watson as a brutish inmate who begins to develop a conscience; Ian Bannen as a sympathetic guard; Lynch as a sensitive man not meant for the army or jail; Andrews; and Michael Redgrave as the ineffectual doctor who finds courage at the crucial moment.

Probably the best performance, however, is turned in by Hendry as the deeply insecure, sadistic loose cannon of a guard who truly sets events in motion. At once, his performance is villanous, but with an edge of immaturity that makes it almost difficult to hate him -- until the end when the other characters really begin to appreciate just how dangerous he is.

Unfortunately, this film was ignored by the Oscars -- a tragedy especially from some actors who have/had generally been ignored by the Academy and other awards groups (i.e., Connery, Hendry, Andrews, Davis). It did, however, win an award at the Cannes Film Festival for Ray Rigby's superb screenplay.

You may need to listen close to pick up some of the dialogue, but by all means, see it if you get the chance.


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