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Prisoner of War (1954)

Approved | | Drama , War | 4 May 1954 (USA)
During the Korean War, an American officer is tasked with infiltrating a Communist-run POW camp in order to investigate the treatment of American prisoners by the enemy.


Andrew Marton


Allen Rivkin


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Reagan ... Webb Sloane
Steve Forrest ... Cpl. Joseph Robert Stanton
Dewey Martin ... Jesse Treadman
Oskar Homolka ... Col. Nikita I. Biroshilov (as Oscar Homolka)
Robert Horton ... Francis Aloysius Belney
Paul Stewart ... Capt. Jack Hodges
Harry Morgan ... Maj. O.D. Hale
Stephen Bekassy Stephen Bekassy ... Lt. Georgi M. Robovnik
Leonard Strong ... Col. Kim Doo Yi
Darryl Hickman ... Merton Tollivar
Weaver Levy Weaver Levy ... Red Guard
Rollin Moriyama Rollin Moriyama ... Capt. Lang Hyun Choi
Ike Jones Ike Jones ... Benjamin Julesberg
Clarence Lung Clarence Lung ... MVD Officer
Jerry Paris ... Axel Horstrom


An American army officer, troubled by reports of brutality, volunteers to investigate conditions inside North Korean POW camps. He parachutes behind enemy lines and infiltrates a group of G.I.s being marched to one of these camps. There, he witnesses scenes of G.I.s being brainwashed, beaten, subjected to mock executions, deprived of food and water, and tortured in a variety of ways under the supervision of a Russian colonel. While reaction to this treatment varies, the officer is heartened to learn that American soldiers are still a courageous and enduring force. Written by dinky-4

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You've never seen anything like it! See more »


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 May 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The P.O.W. Story See more »


Box Office


$569,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$785,000, 31 December 1954

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,077,000, 31 December 1954
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


No female is seen or heard in this movie, except as dancers in a movie shown to the camp. See more »


Col. Nikita I. Biroshilov: [to Lt. Peter Reilly] Confess to germ warfare or you'll never see your wife again.
See more »


Referenced in Heartburn (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

Good movie with a great deal of fact behind it.
28 January 2009 | by taggerezSee all my reviews

I would suspect that some of the negative reviews of this movie stem from the fact that 1.) Ronald Reagan is the star and 2.) it would tend to fall in the very small category of anti-communist films produced by Hollywood. But for people who like good movies, this is a pretty good little film.

More importantly, the film has a basis in fact. The screenwriter, Allen Rivkin, drew on true stories from those who suffered in those camps. When the Army transport "General Walker" docked in San Francisco carrying the first group of returning American POWs from North Korea, Rivkin was there and personally interviewed sixty of them. These ex-POWs told him of the harsh treatment, lack of food, freezing weather, poor medical treatment, and brainwashing sessions that were just some of the horrors they had lived through. In addition, Capt. Robert H. Wise served as the technical adviser on the film. Wise, who had spent a year as a prisoner of the Germans during World War II, spent three years in a North Korean prison camp. He nearly starved to death, dropping 90 pounds during his ordeal. His input lent invaluable veracity to the details of the film.

So when you watch the scenes of torture, deprivation and mind control in "Prisoner of War," they are authentic. As for the statement that these scenes become homo-erotic "beefcake in bondage," the unfocused mind can conjure many things, but more often than not a cigar is just a cigar.

A small film shot on a low budget, there is much to recommend "Prisoner of War" including its treatment of the subject post-war American defectors. A handful of Westerners opted to stay with the communists after the war (as opposed to thousands and thousands of captured Chinese and North Koreans who preferred not to go back to the Reds)and this film has an interesting twist on the subject.

Might make a good B feature with "The Manchurian Candidate."

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