© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Korean War Movies & TV

M*A*S*H (1970)

An antiwar movie directed by Robert Altman at the height of late-sixties anti-Vietnam protests, M*A*S*H centered on a Korean War field hospital and depicted the comedic tactics employed by the characters as a means of retaining their sanity amidst the atrocities of war. M*A*S*H went on to become a long-running television sitcom, one of the most successful and beloved television programs of all time. Though nominally set in Korea, M*A*S*H reflected more of the sensibility of the Vietnam era. As author David Halberstam wrote, "Altman and the screenwriter, Ring Lardner, Jr., were focused on Vietnam but thought it was too sensitive a subject to be treated irreverently. Notably the men and officers in the film wear the shaggy haircuts of the Vietnam years, not the crew cuts of the Korean era." While the political context is interesting, M*A*S*H itself—both the movie and the TV show—was top-notch film entertainment, well worthy of appreciation in its own right.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Chosen by Time magazine as one of the "All Time 100 Best Films," The Manchurian Candidate is a legendary political thriller about an elaborate Communist plot to infiltrate the highest levels of the United States government, beginning with the brainwashing of an American POW in the Korean War. The heinous conspiracy, first imagined by author Richard Condon, haunted plenty of American moviegoers in the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War era.

Pork Chop Hill (1959)

A favorite of war film buffs, Pork Chop Hill depicts one of the most brutal battles fought between the US Army and Communist forces during the final stages of the Korean War. The film launched the careers of several young actors, including Rip Torn, Martin Landau, and Norman Fell.

The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955)

William Holden, Mickey Rooney and Grace Kelly star in this war drama based on a novel by James Michener. When a World War II fighter pilot (Holden) is called to serve again during the Korean War, the US war veteran worries that his dangerous new mission could be his last. Is he right?

Retreat, Hell! (1952)

Released in 1952, Retreat, Hell! was one of the few films about the Korean War that appeared in theaters while the conflict continued to rage abroad. Its cast featured few Hollywood heavy-hitters but boasted the work of actor and real-life war hero Peter Ornitz.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...