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One Minute to Zero (1952)

Approved | | Drama, War | 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.


Tay Garnett


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Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Col. Steve Janowski
Ann Blyth ... Mrs. Linda Day
William Talman ... Col. John Parker
Charles McGraw ... Sfc. Baker
Margaret Sheridan ... Mary Parker
Richard Egan ... Capt. Ralston
Eduard Franz ... 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


Produced at a cost of millions...to bring you A MILLION THRILLS! See more »


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »





English | French

Release Date:

August 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Operation O See more »


Box Office


$2,181,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film used 175 Korean War veterans as extras and actual Korean War footage is included. See more »


When the Col is standing in the hall in his underwear, he is wearing bright white boxers. At that time, close enough to WWII, the Army never issued white underwear. They issued brown or khaki. While officers were responsible for purchasing their own uniforms, they still had to conform to the same colors. And even if regulations had slacked by this point in time, it is probable that officers would have taken advantage of low prices and bought khaki underwear and socks at the base PX. 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

Cold War Film With World War II Ideals.
2 July 2004 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

One Minute To Zero is a cold war film about Korea, very typical of its time. President Truman called it a police action, like we were going there to arrest Kim Il Sung and his cronies. It sure looked like a war from the point of view of the World War II veterans and their younger brothers who fought it.

Robert Mitchum plays one of those veterans, a career army man who rose from the ranks to become a Colonel. He's training the South Korean Army when the North attacks. His personal story is interwoven with the progress of the war from the initial attack until the landings at Inchon. Mitch is every inch the combat soldier in this film.

And Mitch falls big time for widow Ann Blyth, a United Nations worker. When the UN was founded post World War II a lot of people put hope and faith in it that it would prevent future wars and it would deter aggression with force if need be. The only reason it got into Korea was because the Russians were boycotting the Security Council at the time and couldn't veto anything. A gambit they never used again. Ann is a World War II widow who believes she's carrying out the ideals her husband fought for. Lots of folks felt that way back in 1950.

Director Tay Garnett did a good job editing in real combat footage with his actors. The film has a good sense of realism.

But it's a good romantic story as well, helped along by one of the most durable popular songs in history. When I Fall In Love came from this film, heard in the background but never sung. Curious because Ann Blyth is an excellent singer. Nat King Cole and Doris Day had hit records of it when the film was first out. Later on Etta James, The Lettermen, Donny Osmond, Natalie Cole all did well by this song. And right up to the present day Celine Dion and Clive Griffin did a duet record back in 1993. The good ones always survive and I wouldn't bet against a future hit single for some artist with this one.

There is one scene in this that would definitely jar today's audiences. At one point Mitchum directs his men to fire into a group of refugees who the North Koreans are using as a blind to smuggle men and arms into the South. And the movie makes sure you see that that was the case. I don't doubt such things happened. They're happening today. But the movie verdict acquits Mitchum and assuages Ann Blyth that she shouldn't doubt her man. What CNN would do with that today.

The supporting cast includes Charles McGraw, Wally Cassell, and William Talman. All do a good job.

It's a double treat. Lots of action for the men and plenty of romance for the women, or the other way around if that's what floats your boat.

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