Halls of Montezuma
Halls of Montezuma (1951), is a classic Marine Corps WWII movie, focusing on 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, and Company B Marines as they attack a pacific island held by the Japanese. The movie follows the Marines from the Navy ships (USS Sedgwick County (LST-1123)) to the beachhead via dozens of Amphibious Vehicle, Tracked (LVT) vehicles and through the enemy-infested jungle. We watch the leader (Lt. Anderson) of the Marines (a former high school chemistry teacher) as he is transformed from a teacher to a battle-hardened veteran and his squad of Marines is molded into a strong fighting unit. The movie also goes back and takes a look at the lives of the main characters before they were Marines.
Though the USS Sedgwick County (LST-1123) appeared in the filming, she actually never made this trip unless the island in question is Okinawa. Her WW2 activity was as follows:
Completing shakedown toward the end of March, LST-1123 loaded cargo at Mobile, Alabama, and sailed for the Pacific on the 29th. She arrived in San Diego in mid-April; transported rescue boats to San Francisco; and departed the latter port on the 22nd loaded with LVTs, vehicles, and fuel oil. On 2 May, she arrived at Pearl Harbor; offloaded her cargo; and then commenced amphibious exercises. On 2 June, with Army Quartermaster Corps and Navy Construction Battalion personnel and cargo embarked, she sailed for the Marshall Islands, Marianas, and Ryukyus.
Arriving off Okinawa on 28 July, she remained there until after the Japanese surrender, then returned to the Marshalls and Marianas.
This is the film where Robert Wagner and Richard Boone made their acting debut. According to Wikipedia, the film was shot on location at Camp Pendleton with the cooperation of the U.S. Marine Corps. The Corps provided the shooting location, military equipment, such as weapons, tanks, and uniforms, as well as providing the manpower to create the logistics of a wartime U.S. Marine battalion.
Major cast members are:
Richard Widmark as Lt. Anderson
Jack Palance as Pigeon Lane – (Jack is a Veteran of the Army-Air Force)
Reginald Gardiner as Sgt. Johnson
Robert Wagner as Private Coffman
Karl Malden as Doc – (Karl is a Veteran of the Army-Air Force)
Richard Hylton as Conroy
Richard Boone as Lt. Col. Gilfillan – (Richard is a Veteran of the Navy)
Skip Homeier as Pretty Boy
Don Hicks as Lt. Butterfield
Jack Webb as Correspondent Dickerman
Bert Freed as Slattery
Neville Brand as Sgt. Zelenko – (Neville is a Veteran of the Army and was awarded the Silver Star)
Martin Milner as Whitney
Philip Ahn as Nomura
Sgt. Randolph Johnson: Wasn’t there a comment by your General Sherman about war?
Lt. Butterfield: Yeah, he said, “War is Hell.” What did he know, that eight-ball never left the States.
My Take On The Flick
I can’t comment on the accuracy of the uniforms or tactics as I wasn’t around during that time frame and I’m not a huge historian. But from what I have seen online and in other movies, it all appears to be accurate. And considering the movie was made a couple of years after WWII, and that the Marine Corps was helping with the movie, I’m sure it is pretty accurate. But if you are into classic wartime movies, then “Halls of Montezuma” is worth watching. I can state that in the final scene of the movie, the terrain certainly looks like Pendleton.
It is a great war movie from the early 50s.
With each movie, I will detail the military (more specifically the Marine Corps) things that I notice were inaccurate or just wrong.
The uniforms look to be correct for the time period. Since I was not around back then, I really can’t comment too much.
Terminology and Lingo
I wasn’t around back then, so I don’t know exactly, but it sounds correct for the time period. “Spray the whole hill, it’s lousy with Japs.” is how they would have stated it back then, even though today “Japs” is a negative word. I’m fairly certain that back in the 50’s you didn’t end a radio conversation with “Over and Out”, it was either “Over” or “Out”, but I might be incorrect
I didn’t notice anything wrong
There is at least one scene when the good guys can be seen flying F4U Corsairs, which was correct for that period.
The only mistake that I noticed and haven’t already talked about is the use of radio lingo of “over and out”, it is either one of the other, but not both.
Halls of Montezuma Trailer
The above poster is interesting, it has a woman on it, and there isn’t a single female in the entire movie, beyond two flashbacks and a nurse and she isn’t any of them.