1950s Halls of Montezuma (1950)

Published on June 15th, 2007 | by Chris

2

Halls of Montezuma (1950)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On June 15, 2007
Last modified:October 8, 2012

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.

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.

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Description

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)
Brand:
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Richard Widmark
  • Jack Palance
  • Reginald Gardiner
  • Robert Wagner
  • Karl Malden

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lock and Load, November 21, 2013
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This review is from: Halls Of Montezuma (DVD)
I was a post war baby. My first love was the USMC so any movie that deals with the Corp. I want in my collection. Hollywood did a pretty good job on this movie. The Movie took place on the Island of Saipan, I have a friend who got his Purple Heart on that Island during WWII. This movie shows some of the Real Hell that the Marines went through. We need to remember that from December 7th 1941 to the end of WWII Everyone went through their own personal Hell. These Movies help the younger Generation remember the cost of our freedom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top WWII story from 1951 with Stars of the Future, February 6, 2014
By 
Ivanhoe (Pompano Beach, FL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Halls Of Montezuma (DVD)
Richard Widmark is spot on as a science teacher made into a U.S. Marine lieutenant who leads a squad into battle in this well written and acted movie. The plot is given above in other reviews, so I tell you that the cast is a preview of some great actors to come. You'll be delighted with the younger versions of Martin Milner (who served in the U.S. Army with Clint Eastwood), Robert Wagner, Jack Webb, Richard Boone (a aviation ordinanceman and gunner in the U.S. Navy during the war) and (Walter) Jack Palance (who also served in the war as a member of the U.S. Army Air Forces) among others in an ensemble cast which draws you into their fictional lives so well that you almost feel a part of their squad. The equipment used in the film is the real McCoy, not mock ups or CG. Some of the scenes are actual military films from the war and training exercises of the Marine Corps. The DVD version of the film is excellent with good audio and color.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exellent Movie, July 4, 2013
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This review is from: Halls Of Montezuma (Amazon Video)
Another good look at the psychological strain of command. Set in the Pacific, in WWII, men who survied the assualts on Guadalcanal and Tarawa repare to invade another (unnamed, but possibly Saipan) Japanese island stronghold. The underapprecited, Richard Widmark, is excellent as Lt. Anderson, who goes from respected, caring high school teacher to disillusioned, stressed to the max Marine Lieutenant, leading a patrol in search of prisoners to try and determine where the Japanese are launching rockets from just hours before a major assault by the Maries is due to take place.

This film is more than plenty of action and has a great supporting cast including: Richard Boone, Karl Malden, Jack Palance, Jack Webb, Martin Milner, Skip Homeier, Reginald Gardner, Phillip Ahn and in his big screen debut, Robert Wagner.

Other Widmark films I recommend: THE FROGMEN, DESTINATION GOBI, PANIC IN THE STREETS and, of course, his star-making the original KISS OF DEATH.
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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.

4.4


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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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