A US Marine patrol is attempting to hold a snowcovered mountain pass during the Korean War when their Lieutenant dies, leaving his inexperienced black Sergeant, Eddie Towler (Sidney Poitier) in charge of the squad of belligerent and racist white men.
Towler takes over a Korean farmhouse, inhabited by an elderly woman, her Eurasian daughter, Maya (Ana María Lynch), and the latter’s small son, and determines to hold it until the main body of Marines arrives.
Towler’s men include Kincaid (Alan Ladd), a demoted sergeant; Bracken (Paul Richards), a negro-hating Southerner; Wade (Glenn Corbett), a medical student; Crane (Mort Sahl), a corporal, and Torgil, a Swede (Swedish heavyweight boxing world champion Ingemar Johansson).
Bracken forces his attentions on Maya but Towler intervenes. During all this, Red snipers get cracking and pave the way for a tank attack.
The Marines destroy the tank, but Kincaid’s leg is badly crushed. Wade amputates it and a transfusion of Towler’s blood saves Kincaid’s life. The racial war is over.
Marine reinforcements appear and Towler and Maya look longingly at each other as the curtain falls.
Alan Ladd never pushes himself as Kincaid while Paul Richards makes a thoroughly nasty piece of work as Bracken and Mort Sahl introduces a couple of laughable monologues as Crane.
Sgt. Eddie Towler
Pvt. Wade, Medic
Ana María Lynch
Lt. Earl D. Toland