Pork Chop Hill
|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 dates||May 29, 1959|
|Running time||97 min.|
|Box office||$2.1 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
Pork Chop Hill is a 1959 Korean War film starring Gregory Peck, Rip Torn and George Peppard. The film, which was the final war film directed by Lewis Milestone, is based upon the book by U.S. military historian Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall. It depicts the first fierce Battle of Pork Chop Hill between the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division, and Chinese and North Korean forces in April 1953.
The film features numerous actors who would go on to become movie and television stars in the 1960s and the 1970s such as Woody Strode, Harry Guardino, Robert Blake, Norman Fell, Gavin MacLeod, and Harry Dean Stanton. It also the screen debut of Martin Landau and George Shibata who was a West Point classmate of Lieutenant Joe Clemons who also acted as technical adviser on the film.
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.
- Gregory Peck – as Lieutenant Joe Clemons
- Harry Guardino – as Private Forstman
- Rip Torn – as Lieutenant Walter Russell
- George Peppard – as Corporal Chuck Fedderson
- James Edwards – as Corporal Jurgens
- Bob Steele – as Colonel Kern
- Woody Strode – as Private Franklen
- George Shibata – as Lieutenant Ohashi
- Norman Fell – as Sergeant Coleman
- Carl Benton Reid – as American Admiral
- Robert Blake – as Private Velie
- Biff Elliot – as Private Boven
- Viraj Amonsin – as Chinese broadcaster
- Charles Aidman – as Lieutenant Harold
- Barry Atwater – as Lieutenant Colonel Davis
- Martin Landau – as Lieutenant Marshall
- Ken Lynch – as Major General Trudeau
- Chuck Hayward – as Chalmers
- Paul Comi – as Sergeant Kreucheberg
- Abel Fernandez – as Kindley
- Kevin Hagen – as Corporal Kissell
- Gavin MacLeod – as Private Saxon
- Harry Dean Stanton – BAR man (uncredited)
- Barry McGuire – Lt. Attridge (uncredited)
Strode's portrayal of an African American soldier is based on the 24th Infantry Regiment, which was still racially segregated in Korea. Like its cinematic portrayal, the real regiment was poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly led. More than once when this all-black unit was placed on the front lines, a unit in reserve was positioned directly behind because they were expected to break. The regiment was finally considered so unreliable it was disbanded. Its personnel were reassigned to other combat units just like in the film, which portrays Strode's character - with good leadership - becoming an effective soldier.
Before the film's premier in May 1959, United Artists cut the film by nearly 20 minutes. Director Lewis Milestone claimed changes were made because Veronique Peck, the wife of star Gregory Peck, felt 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.
- "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- Hackworth, David H.; Sherman, Julie (1989). "Ch. 16: Box Seat". About Face. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 568. ISBN 0671526928. LCCN 88036235. Retrieved 2013-12-03. "He'd given them away for Pork Chop Hill and often talked about how, as a result, he felt sick every time the film of his Korea story played on the tube and he didn't get a red cent. "I'll never let that happen again," he'd vow each time he wound up his lament on the subject."
- Hackworth. About Face. pp. 92–93. "...the 24th, was an all-black outfit and as a fighting force it was sorrier than any unit I'd ever seen. It had not always been that way; in fact, the Deuce-Four had been responsible for the first significant American ground victory of the war, at Yechon, in July of 1950. But the regiment had been badly bloodied since then, and with the attendant loss of many of its fine black NCOs (too many of whom were replaced by white NCOs who were unable or unwilling to bond with the troops—and vice versa), it seemed the 24th had gone to hell in a hand basket. Individually, many of its members were great... but its leadership was too thin..."
- "Pork Chop Hill (1959) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2013-12-03. "Nevertheless, Pork Chop Hill was still 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."
- "Pork Chop Hill (1959) Pork Chop Hill'; War Drama Directed by Lewis Milestone". New York Times. May 30, 1959. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Pork Chop Hill at the Internet Movie Database
- Pork Chop Hill at AllMovie
- Pork Chop Hill at the TCM Movie Database