20 user 5 critic

Take the High Ground! (1953)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 30 October 1953 (USA)
In 1953, at Fort Bliss, Texas, two former Korean War combat veterans work as drill sergeants and fall in-love with the same woman.


Richard Brooks


Millard Kaufman (story), Millard Kaufman (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Richard Widmark ... Sgt. Thorne Ryan
Karl Malden ... Sgt. Laverne Holt
Elaine Stewart ... Julie Mollison
Carleton Carpenter ... Merton 'Tex' Tolliver
Russ Tamblyn ... Paul Jamison
Jerome Courtland ... Elvin C. Carey
Steve Forrest ... Lobo Naglaski
Robert Arthur ... Donald Quentin Dover IV
Chris Warfield Chris Warfield ... Soldier
William Hairston William Hairston ... Daniel Hazard
Maurice Jara Maurice Jara ... Franklin D. No Bear
Bert Freed ... Sgt. Vince Opperman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Iris Adrian ... Mrs. Butterfly (scenes deleted)
James MacArthur


Sgt. Thorne Ryan, who once fought bravely in Korea, now serves as a hard-nosed drill instructor to new Army recruits at Fort Bliss, Texas. But is he really the man he is often described as? His fellow instructor, and friend helps him to face the ghosts of his past experiences in Korea. One night in a bar across the border in Juarez, Mexico, Sgt. Ryan meets a lady who begins to turn his life around. Will this be enough to help him deal with the past? Or will he continue to be so hard on his troops? This movie was filmed mostly on location at Fort Bliss, Texas in El Paso. Written by Vincent Merlaud <merlaud@studi.mathematik.hu-berlin.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gripes ! Gags ! Girls ! Guts ! Guys ! See more »


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The "Watch your language single men present" signs are in more than one place in this film. That same sign can be seen in the quartermaster when the new recruits are getting their initial issue, at the station where their oversea caps are given to them. That sign can be seen behind the counter. See more »


It would seem the actors drew the line at getting a true recruit haircut. Your first haircut and each one you get each week for the next 8 to 12 weeks of basic training, will be nearly bald cuts. Electric clippers are set to leave approx. ¼ inch of hair. The men leaving the barber still have lush hair styles. Something no recruit would ever have. See more »


Sgt. Thorne Ryan: This is your rifle, and not your gun; it's made for shooting, and not for fun!
See more »


Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Lyrics by Charles Wolcott
Performed by Bill Lee
See more »

User Reviews

Conventional but entertaining Boot Camp movie
10 June 2003 | by lorenellroySee all my reviews

An opening scene set in the Korean war combat zone leads us ,briefly , to expect a war movie but the picture is actually about the training of a new batch of army recruits at Fort Bliss ,Texas .The drill instructor is teak tough Sergeant Ryan ( Richard Widmark )who bullies , browbeats and cajoles the assorted recruits into effective soldiers.His methods ar harsh but effective and bring him into conflict with the somewhat more avuncular sergeant played by Karl Malden

The recruits are a mixed bag --the black ,poetry reading intellectual ,the farm boy ,a brash young kid ,a Native American etc .The army as melting pot , in other words ,coming together as a smoothly functioning machine.

It is pretty obviously an "approved " movie shot at an actual training camp and this is not the revisionist view of the military that was so prominent in the following decade but a picture that could well be designed as a recruitment vehicle. Elaine Stewart as the girl who comes between the two sergeants is the only major female star in an otherwise testosterone heavy picture heavy on male bonding and the military virtues .Widmark is as ever excellent ,and he is backed up by the always reliable Malden.

A strong genre piece and a reminder that military excellence is not achieved by accident.

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Release Date:

30 October 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Making of a Marine See more »


Box Office


$1,166,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (remix for video release)| Stereo (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Anscocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

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