Halls of Montezuma

Overview

Lewis Milestone's Halls of Montezuma was once referred to rather offhandedly in a derisive manner in an episode of M*A*S*H. In a way, that was the most telling comment ever made about the movie, which was an honest, unromanticized, albeit old-fashioned war movie, exactly the opposite of the ideology behind M*A*S*H. The movie's reputation has never matched its quality, probably because it was made in Technicolor, which is ultimately a distraction from the real content of the film, and because it received a ...
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Overview

Lewis Milestone's Halls of Montezuma was once referred to rather offhandedly in a derisive manner in an episode of M*A*S*H. In a way, that was the most telling comment ever made about the movie, which was an honest, unromanticized, albeit old-fashioned war movie, exactly the opposite of the ideology behind M*A*S*H. The movie's reputation has never matched its quality, probably because it was made in Technicolor, which is ultimately a distraction from the real content of the film, and because it received a ridiculous promotional effort from Fox. Many of the scenes are harrowing, and there's an excellent piece of visual parallelism 25 minutes in or so, as we see an attack from the point of view of the Japanese lying in wait for the Marines, and then the American counterattack, also from the point-of-view of the Japanese, as tanks move their flamethrowers closer and closer. The DVD, done in full-frame the way the 1950 movie was shot, is as good as this film has ever looked, and probably as good as it's ever likely to sound, though the volume is a bit low; it pumps up nicely, however, and has lots of good detail, all of the crosstalk and background conversations completely audible. All of this enhances the tension of an underrated movie, which is a surprisingly complex amalgam of patriotic essay, mystery story, and war drama, framed within a complex character study principally focused on Richard Widmark as a disillusioned combat officer on the edge of cracking -- and bracketed by lots of violent combat and explosions. The color photography remains a drawback; the movie looks almost too good in certain jungle scenes (though also seems washed out in some of the interior scenes in the final 15 minutes), but that's the fault of the makers, not the DVD producers. The chaptering is very generous, with 26 markers breaking down the action in the 113-minute movie. The disc opens on a plug for Fox video releases that can be skipped over and the bonus features consist of a somewhat dishonest (or, at least, overheated) original trailer that oversells the action and ignores the film's subtleties and complexities, and is followed by trailers for Fox's other war movies (Guadalcanal Diary, Men of Honor, Tigerland, etc.). There's also an optional French audio track and French and Spanish subtitles.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Halls of Montezuma is a cracking good war film. A tribute to the bravery of those who fight the battles on the ground and in the most dangerous of circumstances, Halls is also notable for not being as gung-ho about war as some other similar films from the period are. While there's never any doubt as to the rightness of the cause for which these men are fighting, it isn't all about glory; there's doubt, fear, despair and melancholy to be found among these men. And while the film abounds in period racial epithets, there's even some willingness to admit that the enemy is human as well. Halls has its flaws, including some clichés among its cast of characters and some dialogue that tries far too hard. But Lewis Milestone's muscular yet affecting direction helps pave over the smooth spots, and the battle sequences he and cinematographers Winton Hoch and Harry Jackson concoct are enormously effective. Richard Widmark is aces as the leader with a secret, and everyone else from Jack Palance and Karl Malden to Robert Wagner and Richard Boone turn in solid performances; even Jack Webb is livelier and less wooden than usual. All in all, an exciting film for fans of war movies.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/21/2002
  • UPC: 024543025450
  • Original Release: 1950
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:53:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 87,535

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Widmark Lt. Carl Anderson
Jack Palance Pidgeon Lane
Robert Wagner Coffman
Karl Malden Doc
Jack Webb Correspondent Dickerman
Reginald Gardiner Sgt. Johnson
Richard Hylton Cpl. Stuart Conroy
Richard Boone Lt. Col. Gilfilan
Skip Homeier Pretty Boy
Don Hicks Lt. Butterfield
Bert Freed Slattery
Neville Brand Sgt. Zelenko
Marion Marshall Nurse
Martin Milner Private Whitney
Philip Ahn Nomura
Howard Chuman Capt. Makino
Frank Kumagai Romeo
Fred Coby Capt. McCreavy
Paul Lees Capt. Seaman
Fred Dale Pharmacist's Mate
Chris Drake Frank
George Conrad Corpsman
Harry McKim Radio Man
Bob McLean Marine Guard
William H. Hawes Paskowicz
Roger McGee Davis
Clarke Stevens Recruit
Helen Hatch Aunt Emma
Michael Road Ship's Captain
Richard Allan Pvt. Stewart
Harry Carter Boatswain's Mate
Jack Lee Courier
Rollin Moriyama Fukado
Technical Credits
Lewis Milestone Director
Robert Bassler Producer
Michael Blankfort Screenwriter
Winton Hoch Cinematographer
Albert Hogsett Art Director
Harry Jackson Cinematographer
Harry Jackson Cinematographer
Sol Kaplan Score Composer
Charles LeMaire Costumes/Costume Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Bruce MacDonald Set Decoration/Design
Lionel Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Sr. Makeup
William H. Reynolds Editor
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Lyle Wheeler Art Director
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Selections
1. Main Titles [:13]
2. Company B [1:31]
3. Teacher and Student [4:20]
4. Anything for Anderson [1:04]
5. Hit the Beach [6:19]
6. The Hill [:41]
7. The Long Night [6:59]
8. Pretty Boy [:06]
9. Under Fire [3:06]
10. Another Migraine [4:02]
11. Where are the Rockets? [1:15]
12. The White Flag [3:40]
13. The Cave [1:40]
14. The Crossing [2:52]
15. Snipers [:24]
16. Pretty Boy's Last Battle [3:30]
17. Doc's Request [3:24]
18. Ninety Minutes Left [:43]
19. Dying Well [5:52]
20. The Overlay [:45]
21. Conroy Gets the Count [6:05]
22. The Major's Secret [4:27]
23. Reverse the Obvious [2:53]
24. Doc's Words [2:47]
25. Give 'Em Hell! [3:02]
26. End Titles [1:11]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Language Selection
      Spoken Languages
         English Stereo
         English Mono
         French Mono
      Captions & Subtitles
         English
         Spanish
         None
   Extra Features
      Theatrical Trailer
         Fox Flix
            Guadalcanal Diary
            Tigerland
            The Young Lions
            War Trailer
            Men of Honor
            Tora! Tora! Tora!
            Wing and a Prayer
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