Pork Chop Hill

Pork Chop Hill Information

Pork Chop Hill is a 1959 American Korean War film starring Gregory Peck, Rip Torn and George Peppard. The film, which was the final war film directed by Lewis Milestone, is based upon the book by U.S. military historian Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall. It depicts the first fierce Battle of Pork Chop Hill between the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division, and Chinese and North Korean forces in April 1953.

The film features numerous actors who would go on to become movie and television stars in the 1960s and the 1970s such as Woody Strode, Harry Guardino, Robert Blake, Norman Fell, Abel Fernandez, Gavin MacLeod, Harry Dean Stanton, and Clarence Williams III. It is also the screen debut of Martin Landau and George Shibata, who was a West Point classmate of Lieutenant Joe Clemons, who also acted as technical adviser on the film.


In April 1953, during the Korean War, a company of American infantry, led by Lieutenant Joe Clemons (Gregory Peck) are to recapture Pork Chop Hill from a larger Communist Chinese army force; they recapture the hill, but are depleted, only 25 of a 135-man unit are left. They prepare for a large-scale Chinese counter-attack which they know will overwhelm and kill them in vicious fire fights and hand-to-hand fighting while the Panmunjeom cease-fire negotiations continue.

Higher command is shown as being unwilling to either abandon or reinforce the hill. They will not reinforce the hill because the value of the hill is not worth further losses. They will not abandon the hill because it is a point of negotiation in the cease-fire talks.

The American negotiators come to the conclusion that the Chinese are pouring soldiers into the battle for a militarily insignificant hill to test the resolve of the Americans in the negotiations. The decision is then made at the last minute to reinforce the hill.


  • Gregory Peck as Lieutenant Joe Clemons
  • Rip Torn as Lt. Walter Russell
  • George Shibata as Lt. Suki Ohashi (Lt. Tsugi Ohashi)
  • Woody Strode as Pvt. Franklen
  • Harry Guardino as Pvt. Forstman
  • George Peppard as Cpl. Chuck Fedderson
  • Norman Fell as Sgt. Coleman
  • Cliff Ketchum as Cpl. Payne
  • Robert Blake as Pvt. Velie
  • Viraj Amonsin as Chinese broadcaster
  • Bob Steele as Colonel Kern (Colonel William B. Kern)
  • Carl Benton Reid as American Admiral
  • Charles Aidman as Lt. Harold (Lt. Thomas S. Harrold)
  • Barry Atwater as Lt. Col. Davis
  • Leonard Graves as Lt. Cook (Lt. Robert S. Cook)
  • Martin Landau as Lt. Marshall (Lt. Arthur A. Marshall)
  • Ken Lynch as Major General Trudeau
  • Lew Gallo as Lieutenant of Division Public Relations (Lt. James Barrows)
  • James Edwards as Cpl. Jurgens
  • Biff Elliot as Pvt. Boven
  • Syl Lamont as Sgt. Kuzmick (SFC Walter Kuzmick)
  • Paul Comi as Sgt. Kreucheberg
  • Abel Fernandez as Kindley
  • Chuck Hayward as Chalmers
  • Kevin Hagen as Cpl. Kissell
  • Gavin MacLeod as Pvt. Saxon
  • John Alderman as Lt. Waldorf
  • Bert Remsen as Lt. Cummings
  • Robert Williams as Soldier Runner
  • Buzz Martin as Whitey
  • William Wellman Jr. as Iron Man
  • John McKee as Cpl. Olds
  • Michael Garth as S-2 Officer (Lt. James Blake)
  • Harry Dean Stanton as BAR man (uncredited)
  • Clarence Williams III as Message Runner (uncredited)
  • DeForest Covan as U.S. Soldier (uncredited)



S.L.A. Marshall reportedly disliked the fact that he had sold the movie rights to his book for next-to-nothing, and vowed not to make the same mistake again.

Strode and Edwards' portrayal of African American soldiers is based on the 24th Infantry Regiment, which was still racially segregated in Korea. Like its cinematic portrayal, the real regiment was poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly led. More than once when this all-black unit was placed on the front lines, a unit in reserve was positioned directly behind because they were expected to break. The regiment was finally considered so unreliable it was disbanded. Its personnel were reassigned to other combat units just as in the film, which portrays Edwards' character - with good leadership - becoming an effective soldier.


Some of the location shooting was conducted in California near Westlake Village and in San Fernando Valley. Peck, although not credited, directed a few scenes despite protests by Milestone.



Before the film's premier in May 1959, United Artists cut the film by nearly 20 minutes. Director Lewis Milestone claimed changes were made because Veronique Peck, the wife of star Gregory Peck, felt her husband made his first entrance too late into the picture. While that claim stands as unconfirmed, the film does show signs of post-production editing, with segments of several excised scenes showing up under the main title credits.

Critical response

The New York Times applauded the film's "grim and rugged" style, the way it captured the "resentment" of the American GIs, and how it "tacitly points the obsoleteness of ground warfare".

See also

  • List of American films of 1959

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