> Movies of the Korean War
> Pork Chop Hill

Pork Chop Hill
Did you know? Gregory Peck's wife, unhappy that her husband first showed up in the movie too late for her tastes, convinced the director to cut the film by twenty minutes.

  • Pork Chop Hill's director, Lewis Milestone, made other war classics.
  • The battle for Pork Chop Hill was more political than strategic.
  • Gregory Peck wisely played his part as a compassionate leader.

  • Hollywood did not make a large number of Korean War Films, perhaps because this war, or "conflict" as it is referred to, was not a popular one. There are two exceptional films that used took place during the Korean War, but used the actual war merely as a backdrop, The Manchurian Candidate and M.A.S.H. The best Korean War film that realistically depicts the combat and the unsettling complexities of this chapter of American history is Pork Chop Hill, starring Gregory Peck.

    Made in 1959 by Peck's own production company, the movie is based on a real life Korean War battle that took place in the waning days of the war. Ex-soldier and United States army historian S. L. A. Marshal's book was adapted into this movie which has been described as gritty and credible, where the troops aren't looking for fame and glory, but are just trying to survive. It recounts the fight to retake a hill that the Chinese were defending, even while peace negotiations were ongoing; our need to take the hill was mostly political. The barren and strategically useless mound of dirt, codenamed Pork Chop Hill, was simply a bargaining tool in these talks, with the United States having to show the Chinese that they were serious about their commitment to the war in order to be in a position of power at the table.

    The soldiers ordered to take Pork Chop Hill are pawns; worse yet, they know it. The "peacemakers" are a mere seventy miles away, haggling over details and posturing, while the bloody fighting goes on. Gregory Peck plays Lieutenant Joe Clemons, and his performance is understated; he purposely avoided making the character a heroic action figure. Peck's Clemons is a man that understands that no one is going to "win" this battle, but he has his orders. He clashes throughout this outstanding Korean War film with veteran character actor Woody Strode, who portrays Private Franklin, one of the many men in the company that is not so keen on the idea of dying for a worthless tract of ground.

    There are several actors in this movie that were little known at the time, but went on to much bigger things themselves in the coming years. George Peppard plays Corporal Fedderson; Peppard became a huge film star in his own right in the Sixties and Seventies and later on television's The A Team. Norman Fell, Harry Guardino, and Rip Torn all show up here as soldiers. This trio's big screen and television resume would fill a small book. Robert Blake plays a private, and the performer, who appeared in the Our Gang comedies of the Thirties and Forties as a child, does great work here but is still eight years away from his signature role as a killer in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

    This Korean War film is in black and white and was directed by Lewis Milestone, a war movie veteran. His World War I classic, All's Quiet On The Western Front, is considered hands down the best movie about that horrible war. He also directed the WWII film A Walk In The Sun, which is quite similar in that it represents war not in a glorious light but from the soldier's point of view. Pork Chop Hill has a running time of ninety seven minutes. It was reported that Gregory Peck's wife, unhappy that her husband first showed up in the movie too late for her tastes, convinced him to cut the film by twenty minutes.

    Pork Chop Hill holds up well today, especially in light of the fact that we now know that America was going to enter another war in just a few years that would be just as hard for its participants to feel gung ho about. Vietnam would be just as difficult to understand from the soldier's perspective, however there were many more movies made about it, many of them anti-war statements. Pork Chop Hill, however,can be viewed as both a testimony to duty and courage and to the utter futility of the bloodshed in Korea. User-generated content powered by Associated Content| Publish your own Content|