Although Lewis Milestone had been American cinema's premier maker of war films for three decades, 1951's The Halls of Montezuma is one of his more marginal pictures. Milestone had already won an Academy Award for the single most honoured film about WWI, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), and made one of the most distinctive contemporaneous films of WWII, A Walk in the Sun (1945)--a notable influence on Saving Private Ryan, by the way--but by the time of Montezuma the hallmarks of his directorial style--such as his syncopated tracking shots--were becoming mannerisms,... and the screenplay's rhythms of personal crises set against the bigger picture of the military campaign are pretty mechanical. That still leaves room to accord the picture a marginal recommendation: it's well-cast, competently made, and free of "Hollywood heroics". Richard Widmark stars as a Marine platoon leader who, having brought only seven of his men through Guadalcanal, is determined to see them safely through the next island conquest. The lieutenant was a schoolteacher in civilian life--as we see in flashbacks--and one member of his command is a former student (Richard Hylton) he helped overcome fear. Other platoon members include ex-boxer Jack Palance, trigger-happy bad boy Skip Homeier, hardcase veterans Neville Brand and Bert Freed, and Karl Malden as a philosophical corpsman. However, the most arresting performance is given by Milestone discovery Richard Boone, making his screen debut as a sympathetic colonel stuck with fighting the Japanese and fighting off a miserable cold at the same time. --Richard T Jameson, Amazon.com [show more]
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Grim epic American war movie about the Pacific Campaign, starring Richard Widmark as a former teacher who is now a Lieutenant leading his Marines into battle on a heavily-fortified enemy island. Their objective is a Japanese rocket site in the island's interior, and the combat-packed story follows the squadron's progress as the Lieutenant tries to transform them into a cohesive fighting unit.