Despite its aftermath (or lack there of) making headlines nearly every week to this day, the Korean War itself is largely disregarded in our culture. This comes as no surprise, however; sandwiched between the easy good vs. evil narrative of the Second World War and the hellish miasma of Vietnam, the Korean War was but a brief bump — a fact highlighted by its nickname, “Forgotten War.”
As a result, media featuring the Korean War is few and far between — aside from M.A.S.H. and Don Draper’s origin story, there aren’t many touchstones for the generation of today to look back on.
That’s not to say there weren’t films produced about Korea, and certainly not to say that there weren’t any good ones. While many are the same dated bravado-filled fare that 1950’s Hollywood was cranking out about nearly anything featuring men with guns, there are a few standouts — 1957’s Men in War among them.
Burying (if not doing away with) the aforementioned bravado beneath a thick layer of grime, Men in War depicts a cutoff platoon desperately trying to link up with US forces. Harassed by North Korean infiltrators and in unfamiliar ground, the platoon’s Lieutenant (Robert Ryan) leads the slog. Further difficulties are presented when a Sergeant (Aldo Ray) shows up in a jeep, a shell-shocked Colonel (Robert Keith) tied to the passenger seat.
Condemned by the Pentagon for its depiction of US soldiers, Men in War is one film that should not be forgotten.