Have a Raisin

With his final speech at Pork Chop Hill’s climax, Lt. Joe Clemons (Gregory Peck) notes the lack of a monument for this real world battle. He’s not wrong, yet Pork Chop Hill serves as that artifact to recall this struggle for pointless land. If anything, cinema might be the more effective way into the public’s historical context.

Made with the Army’s cooperation, Pork Chop Hill runs alongside the political maneuvering that led to this back-and-forth skirmish. The script isn’t without desperation as soldiers await orders, ammo dwindling, and food in short supply. To maintain integrity and recruitment assets, Pork Chop Hill focuses on the infantry and their toughness, and any strikes against the commanding factions happen broadly – generic gripes about men in offices sending people into war. It’s meant to relate to those in lower ranks, showing them as a driving force toward victory; that’s easier to sensationalize.

Pork Chop Hill is about action

In emphasizing this, a war photographer reached Clemons, this as their radioman pleads for reinforcements and basic necessities in the background. The smiling cameraman wants to capture victory, he says. Clemons retorts that somehow a lowly unarmed photographer made it through, but supplies can’t. It’s dysfunction, and nails the futility of this scramble up the hill – this is all PR for the American military.

Until the final act, diplomacy is nill. Pork Chop Hill is about action, finding those few characters worth following for an emotional lure, then using them to distill a larger scale battle down to a few. That’s standard, but done well, if restrained. Pvt. Franklin (Woody Strode) makes a daring case study in race, refusing to fight because this war isn’t worth fighting for as a black man, although that racial element subsides; it’s more a suggestion.

Although fiercely determined to show outright heroism, the camera doesn’t avoid the cost. A hauntingly long tracking shot pans by trenches lined with dead bodies, both American and Korean. The Korean propagandist speaks over the radio, bellowing how little this hill is worth, and he’s not wrong – the US soldiers know it too, but a dedication to duty and their orders keep that fight going. It’s tragic in that way, so meaningless in any scale. Thankfully, that fact is not ignored throughout the runtime.


A lightly dusty print greets Imprint’s Pork Chop Hill, a small qualm in an otherwise clear presentation. Hard gray scale produces depth, highlights firm and shadows dense, with the in-between limited. Heavy gray transitions limit the gradients. Telecine wobble pairs to a number of scenes.

Grain resolves easily via a well-encoded compression routine. This keeps definition intact, crisp, and sharp. A minor suggestion of sharpening leaves the slimmest ringing behind, the only thing amiss and with minimal impact overall. Pork Chop Hill still looks like film, the digital-ness a tiny bother.

Texture stands out in close. Wide shots set the action, defining the environments.


Understandably limited by age, this PCM track preserves the source material well, even producing the slightest bass response at the deepest points. That’s clear, and while the treble stays pinched, there’s enough to reach peak volume minus distortion.


Imprint provides a new commentary with historians Jay Rubin and Steve Mitchell. After that, an older documentary on Gregory Peck and a trailer.

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Pork Chop Hill
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Pork Chop Hill doesn’t engage in the Korean War’s overall totality, but does tell a stellar story of conflict’s futility.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 37 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: