1950s Halls of Montezuma (1950)

Published on June 15th, 2007 | by Chris


Halls of Montezuma (1950)

Reviewed by:
On June 15, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012


I really enjoyed this picture, and I'm giving it a full 9/10. Take away one for the 180-degree turn at the end and a few overplayed moments. I highly recommend this one.

Halls of Montezuma (1950)Wow.  Talk about a movie that was ahead of its time in its message.  Well, mostly anyway.  Halls of Montezuma follows the journey of a squad of US Marines as they storm an anonymous Japanese held island in the Pacific during WWII.  They are then tasked with locating a Japanese rocket emplacement before the next wave of troops arrive.

Their leader, Lieutenant Carl Anderson aka "Andy" (Richard Widmark) is a troubled man, having just lost most of a squad on Tarawa, and trying to make the best of his situation while combating recurring psychosomatic migraines.  The rest of his current squad (including a young "Walter" Jack Palance and an equally young Robert Wagner) come from diverse backgrounds, and carry weights of their own.

The film starts off as a flag waving, anthem blaring, do-or-die salute to the Marines, but quickly evolves into a more complex drama, detailing the insanity of war, and the toll it takes on the Marines.  We see a few of his squad overcome their problems, and a few who do not.  But overall the drama in this picture is some of the more intense I've seen, matter of fact I'd rate it right up behind "Private Ryan" in the quality of it all.

After they storm the beaches, they end up on a mission to locate a Japanese rocket base which is giving them nothing but grief.  On this mission they capture a  few prisoners, which further defines their struggle.

I won't spoil the ending, but suffice it to say its not all flags and fireworks.  Anderson defeats his demons, and then they all end up more or less right back where they started.

But confusingly enough that includes more of the same flag-waving and anthem-blaring that started the picture.  That I just didn't get.  After evolving this picture into the complicated story they did, to turn it around a complete one-eighty just ruined it for me!  Maybe that was on purpose, as part of the message, maybe it was just a ploy by the studios to not end the picture on such a down and somber note, I don't know.

The acting on most everybody's part is mostly brilliant, subtracting a few typically-50s overacted moments.  The cinematography shines, well, mostly as well.  And the action scenes get interspersed with stock footage of Iwo and other Marine actions.

I really enjoyed this picture, and I'm giving it a full 9/10.  Take away one for the 180-degree turn at the end and a few overplayed moments.  I highly recommend this one.

Halls of Montezuma Halls of Montezuma
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Richard Widmark leads an all-star cast of leathernecks (Jack Palance, Robert Wagner, Karl Malden, Richard Boone, and Jack Webb) into battle on a heavily-fortified enemy island. Their objective is a Japanese rocket sit in the island's interior, and the combat-packed story follows the squad from beachhead to battle, as they pick their way trough enemy-infested jungles...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
  • Richard Widmark
  • Jack Palance
  • Reginald Gardiner
  • Robert Wagner
  • Karl Malden


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Halls of Montezuma (1950) Chris

Summary: I really enjoyed this picture, and I'm giving it a full 9/10. Take away one for the 180-degree turn at the end and a few overplayed moments. I highly recommend this one.


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

2 Responses to Halls of Montezuma (1950)

  1. Man, I can honestly say I’ve just seen the most bleak, dark, depressing, demoralizing… and downright dull war movie I’ve seen to date….A Walk in the Sun follows a squad of soldiers as they land on a beach in Italy, and proceed to an occupied farmhouse

  2. As is usually the case for a Memorial Day Weekend, several cable/satellite networks will be chock full of classic war movies this coming weekend. Namely Turner Classic Movies, Fox Movie Channel, and AMC. I’m sure there are many more but these are “The B

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