Storming the Hill
I've come up with a theory, the better known a war the better known the war movie. Or at least that is my explanation as to why "Pork Chop Hill" isn't a better known movie as most people know about WWII and Vietnam but not so many people, especially outside of America, have much knowledge on the Korean war. It's a shame as "Pork Chop Hill" is a brilliant war/anti-war movie with great atmosphere, great action and great acting all of which comes from a story which is based on fact rather than fiction.
With peace talks in progress and with the war in Korea expected to end with in days a platoon of G.I's is winding down. That is until Lt. Joe Clemons (Gregory Peck - The Big Country) receives orders to lead his men on an attack of a ridge called Pork Chop Hill to retake it from the Chinese. As a man who follows orders Clemons leads his men understanding that this show of force is a tool in the negotiations even if it seems pointless considering that the hill has no military value and will cost lives.
You may be asking why "Pork Chop Hill" is such a good movie and it is all about the detail. That detail is everywhere starting with recreating the atmosphere among the American soldiers before being sent on action, you get a real sense that they think the war is all but over and they are just waiting things out. It means that when all of a sudden they get sent on what seems a pointless mission there is a sense of negativity which befalls some of them as they can't see the point leaving Lt. Clemons to try and keep them focused and motivated.
It's not just the atmosphere which is good as the action is full of powerful scenes such as a scene involving Chinese soldiers running onto a barrage of bullets and dropping with nowhere to go. There is a real authenticity to all the action from the hill with its trenches and barbed wire being an unforgiving place to the sound or mortars going off ringing in your ears. For a war movie "Pork Chop Hill" has some great atmospheric cinematography especially those scenes where they attack at night which just adds to the power of it all.
Then there is the acting and that from start to finish is above average with supporting performances from Woody Strode, Rip Torn and Harry Guardino standing out. But "Pork Chop Hill" is a movie owned by Gregory Peck with an authoritative performance of a military man who obeys orders even if he doesn't agree with them struggling with this final order to take a worthless hill. Peck manages to make the conflict he feels and the heartbreak he suffers from what he sees very real without resorting to over acting.
What this all boils down to is that "Pork Chop Hill" is up there with the great war movies but because of the war it covers is sadly not as well known.