|Pork Chop Hill|
|Directed by||Lewis Milestone
|Produced by||Sy Bartlett|
|Written by||S. L. A. Marshall|
|Music by||Leonard Rosenman|
|Editing by||George Boemler|
|Distributed by||United Artists
MGM (DVD release)
|Release date(s)||29 May 1959|
|Running time||97 min.|
|Box office||$2.1 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
Pork Chop Hill (1959), directed by Lewis Milestone, is a Korean War war film based upon the eponymous book by military historian Brig. Gen. S. L. A. Marshall, an eyewitness, depicting the bitterly fierce first Battle of Pork Chop Hill between the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division, and Chinese and Korean Communist forces at the end of the Korean War in April 1953.
The film features Gregory Peck, Woody Strode, and actors who became movie stars in the 1960s and the 1970s; e.g., George Peppard, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, Robert Blake, Norman Fell, Martin Landau, and Gavin MacLeod, with Harry Dean Stanton in an uncredited minor role.
This was Milestone's final war film, and it received good reviews. Peck, although not credited, directed a few segments, despite protests by Milestone at the time. The picture was filmed partially on location in California's San Fernando Valley. Pork Chop Hill marked Landau's feature film debut.
In April 1953, during the Korean War, a company of American infantry, led by Lieutenant Joe Clemons (Gregory Peck) are to recapture Pork Chop Hill from a larger Communist Chinese army force; they recapture the hill, but are depleted, only 25 of a 135-man unit are left. They prepare for a large-scale Chinese counter-attack which they know will overwhelm and kill them in vicious fire fights and hand-to-hand fighting while the Panmunjeom cease-fire negotiations continue.
Higher command is shown as being unwilling to either abandon or reinforce the hill. They will not reinforce the hill because the value of the hill is not worth further losses. They will not abandon the hill because it is a point of negotiation in the cease-fire talks.
The American negotiators come to the conclusion that the Chinese were pouring soldiers into a battle for a militarily insignificant hill to test the resolve of the Americans in the negotiations. The decision is then made at the last minute to reinforce the hill.
According to director Lewis Milestone, Pork Chop Hill was cut by nearly twenty minutes, supposedly because the wife of star Gregory Peck felt that her husband made his first entrance too late into the picture. While that claim stands as unconfirmed, the film does show signs of post-production editing, with segments of several excised scenes showing up under the main title credits.
Strode's portrayal of the cowardly black soldier is not inaccurate, despite modern inferences to the contrary. The 24th Infantry Regiment was still racially segregated and during their existence in Korea was poorly led, poorly trained and poorly equipped. More than once when this all black unit was placed on the front lines, the unit in reserve would be positioned behind them since they could be expected to break. The regiment was finally considered so unreliable that they were disbanded in place and the personnel scattered to other units such as the one depicted here. In the film, we see that with good leadership the soldier in fact became an effective fighter.
Here you can share your comments or contribute with more information, content, resources or links about this topic.