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Halls of Montezuma (1951)

A company of Marines races against the clock to find a Japanese rocket base.


Lewis Milestone


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Complete credited cast:
Richard Widmark ... Lt. Anderson
Jack Palance ... Pigeon Lane (as Walter {Jack} Palance)
Reginald Gardiner ... Sgt. Johnson
Robert Wagner ... Private Coffman
Karl Malden ... Doc
Richard Hylton ... Conroy
Richard Boone ... Lt. Col. Gilfillan
Skip Homeier ... Pretty Boy
Don Hicks Don Hicks ... Lt. Butterfield
Jack Webb ... Correspondent Dickerman
Bert Freed ... Slattery
Neville Brand ... Sgt. Zelenko
Martin Milner ... Whitney
Philip Ahn ... Nomura


The Marines attack a strongly held enemy island in the Pacific. We follow them from the beach to a Japanese rocket site through enemy infested jungle as their ex-school teacher leader is transformed into a battle veteran and his squad becomes a tight fighting unit. Written by Derek Picken <dpicken@email.msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action with the Battling Leathernecks! See more »


Action | Adventure | Drama | War


12 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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English | Japanese

Release Date:

28 April 1951 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Okinawa See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This movie's title is taken from the first opening line lyric of the Marine's Hymn, the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps. In turn, the phrase "Halls of Montezuma" in that hymn is taken from the September 1847 Mexican-American War's Battle of Chapultepec when American Marines attacked the Chapultepec Castle (Spanish: Castillo de Chapultepec) west of Mexico City and later occupied that city. The Chapultepec Castle is also known as the Halls of Montezuma. The castle was depicted in the movie Vera Cruz (1954) and was an actual filming location in the film Romeo + Juliet (1996). See more »


The pockets of the ammunition belts worn by most of the Marines who carry M1 Garand rifles are obviously empty, since they are flat. No real Marine would go into combat with an empty ammo belt. See more »


Sgt. Zelenko: Now listen to me! You new men! Step up here! Don't let Slattery give ya a snow job and get ya into trouble. He's got no more sense that a... sittin' hen in a hurricane. That's why he's been a private longer'n any man in the Marine Corps. And he'll *die* a private. Don't have a thing to do with him! 'Cept when things get tough. Stick to him like plaster. Best fightin' man I know. But before and after, he's a no good money burnin', gin drinkin', horse head!
See more »


Referenced in Canadian Bacon (1995) See more »


aka "My Country 'tis of Thee"
Music from "God Save the King"
Played when Dickerman reads to the troops
See more »

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User Reviews

An Excellent WWII Film
26 December 2006 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Arguably, it's one of the three or four best WWII movies ever made. A group of U.S. Marines race against the clock to find the source of enemy rockets that prevent them from taking control of a Japanese-held Pacific island. It's certainly a patriotic film. But there is also an undercurrent of despair, based on the human toll that war inevitably takes.

These Leathernecks are tough, but they are also subject to death from enemy fire. And the screen story puts a lot of emphasis on individual characterization. I don't recall a film that did such a good job of combining scene transitions with flashbacks to help viewers understand the motivations of the main characters.

Lt. Anderson (Richard Widmark) is the leader; he suffers from debilitating migraine headaches, but nevertheless pushes on to fulfill whatever dangerous mission he's assigned. One of his men is Conroy (Richard Hylton) who used to stutter, until Anderson helped cure him of it years earlier. Slattery (Bert Freed) is your typical Marine toughie, but he's got a sense of humor and conceals a portable still to make booze. Pretty Boy (Skip Homeier) is a pistol packing dude with a chip on his shoulder. Through the screen story's deep characterizations, viewers naturally become attached to these guys, and root for them as they enter into their dangerous mission. Of the dozen or so men Anderson leads, not all will make it out alive.

As in other battle films, viewers learn the importance of quick decisions, teamwork, effective communication, and keen awareness of one's surroundings. Life occurs moment by moment, in the here and now. Make a plan; execute it; dodge a problem; ignore pain and fatigue; persist. These are lessons applicable to anyone at any time, not just warriors on the battlefield.

"Halls Of Montezuma" is a quality production all the way. The color cinematography is fine, despite the fact that some of the techniques are dated. The ensemble acting is credible. The editing and scene transitions are just terrific. And, as the film's bookends, that rousing theme song: "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" gets the viewer in the right frame of mind.

I normally don't care for movies in this genre. Even this film, like other WWII films, is a tad too predictable, slightly manipulative, and contains some outdated assumptions. Nevertheless, as war movies go, "Halls Of Montezuma" is one of the best.

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