Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Overlooked Movies: Halls of Montezuma

When I saw this movie at the age of 9 or 10, I thought that it was the best movie ever made, that Richard Widmark was the greatest actor in the world, and that the "Marines' Hymn" was the greatest song.  In fact, I loved war movies in general, The Sands of Iwo Jima being another great favorite of mine at that time.  The advantage of that one is John Wayne (who, I admit, I liked at least as much as Widmark and maybe more, but not while watching Halls of Montezuma) and the advantage of this one is Technicolor.  It looks terrific.  

Widmark plays a lieutenant who's been fighting for way too long.  Only seven men are left in his platton, and Widmark's taking it hard.  He's having severe headaches and has to take heavy meds for them.  The battalion is going ashore on a Pacific island (a long way from the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli) with orders to take prisoners to get information.  While there's plenty of action, the main focus is on the characters, and a partial cast list will tell you that there are some good ones in the movie.  Besides Widmark, there are Karl Malden, Walter (Jack) Palance, Jack Webb, Neville Brand, Robert Wagner, Martin Milner, Skip Homeier, and Richard Boone.  Every one of them does a great job, too.  

This is one of those movies when anyone can die at any time, even the ones you like a lot.  I loved this kind of thing as a kid.  Not so much now, but then a lot of my attitudes have changed (see the first sentence above).  I still think this is a dandy war movie, though.  The final scene (which is shown in the trailer, by the way) still gives me a chill.  If you want to see big-time Hollywood movie-making from the old days, check this one out.


pattinase (abbott) said...

We just had this discussion the other night with friends and I plan to put it on my blog this week: What is the best war movie ever made. They voted for TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH.

George said...

I saw HALLS OF MONTEZUMA long ago and liked it. As a kid, I saw dozens of WWII movies. Now, they're as scarce as Westerns!

Unknown said...

12 O'Clock High is a good one. I also like From Here to Eternity and several others.

Cap'n Bob said...

I've seen this a few times over the years and agree it's a good one. My favorite WWII movie is BATTLEGROUND.