1953. Negotiators are at work in Panmunjom trying to bring the Korean War to a negotiated end. 70 miles away, Lt. Joe Clemons (Gregory Peck) is ordered to launch an attack and retake Pork Chop Hill – an exposed US outpost that projects into Chinese lines.
It’s tough on the soldiers who know that the negotiations are underway, and nobody wants to die when they think it will all soon be over. The hill is of no particular strategic military value but all part of showing resolve during the negotiations.
Clemons commands King Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, with two platoons of Love Company mounting a supporting attack on the right ﬂank.
Subjected to withering artillery, mortar, and automatic weapons ﬁre, both units take extremely heavy casualties. Love Company’s advance is stymied, but King Company ultimately manages to capture most of the bunkers and trenches on the hill’s summit.
Of the 197 men who began the assault on Pork Chop Hill, only 35 men from King Company and 12 men from the two platoons of Love Company make it up the hill unscathed. After further casualties, Lt. Clemons has only 25 men left to hold the hill against impending Chinese counterattacks.
Under the impression that the battle has been won, battalion headquarters orders some of the men withdrawn when in fact they are in dire need of reinforcements and supplies.
As the Chinese prepare to counterattack and broadcast propaganda over loudspeakers, the men prepare for what may be their last battle.
Finally realising that the Chinese had attacked Pork Chop Hill to test American resolve (not for its strategic value), the American negotiators at Panmunjom authorise 7th Infantry Division commanding officer Major General Arthur Trudeau (Ken Lynch), to send in reinforcements for Clemons and his beleaguered men, who descend the hill as fresh troops climb it.
Several future stars of television are scattered throughout the fine cast, including George Peppard, Harry Guardino, Gavin McLeod, Robert Blake, and Norman Fell.
Under the supervision of production designer Nicolai Remisoff and set decorator Edward G Boyle, crews turned a 300-foot outcropping at Albertson Ranch, Thousand Oaks, California (10 miles north of Malibu), into a realistic facsimile of Pork Chop Hill, with trenches, bunkers, and concertina wire.
The filmmakers also benefited from the support of the Pentagon, which lent them the services of the real Joseph Clemons, Jr. himself as technical advisor.
Pork Chop Hill did lacklustre business at the box office. A relentlessly grim picture about a bloody battle at the end of an unpopular war, the film generated $1.7 million in ticket sales – just enough to recuperate its production costs
Based on the book by US military historian Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall.
Lt. Joe Clemons
Lt. Suki Ohashi
Lt. Walter Russel
Cpl. Chuck Fedderson
American Admiral at Peace Conference
Carl Benton Reid
Lieutenant, Division Public Relations
Major General Arthur Trudeau