Lewis Milestone made some quality war films, but this WWII drama about a marine platoon commanded by Richard Widmark doesn’t measure up to his best.
The action is all smoke and noise, with little pause for any character development and the supporting cast overact their badly melodramatic, overly stereotypical roles to a rather cringe-inducing degree – Jack Palance’s performance in Batman was comparatively understated compared to this! The technique of using flashbacks to contrast the soldier’s pre-war lives is also clumsy and Widmark too often looks more like a social worker dishing out Werther’s originals than a battle-hardened lieutenant. The lack of humanity in the script is highlighted particularly in a scene where a tank sprays napalm on Japanese positions with no thought or mention of it’s victims, as the marines look on cheerfully as if they’re watching a Sunday afternoon barbecue.
It does have moments, particularly in the scenes involving the Japanese prisoners, but as a whole Halls Of Montezuma is too simplistic, cliched and jingoistic.