AN UNKNOWN CLASSIC
The Hill, I can’t think of a film less appreciated than this one. The tragedy of THE HILL began with its horribly botched release in 1965 – a textbook example of studio stupidity. On the other side of the equation, film purists who were worshipping at the alter of goofs like Godard’s “Alphaville” turned up their noses at this movie because it starred the “lightweight” commercial actor Sean Connery. Jesus wept.
It is absolutely amazing that this movie is so uncompromisingly British while being directed by the so-called “New York” director Sidney Lumet. The man’s a genius. And less you wonder, I lived for three years in England (1966-69) and am a World War II buff, so I have reason to testify to its authenticity. And for Sean Connery, at the height of his popularity (He was the Number One box office draw the year this movie came out), to play the character of SGT. Joe Roberts, sans toupee, and without the typical “movie star out” for his character – see the movie and compare it to THE LAST CASTLE, and you’ll know what I mean – is nothing short of stunning.
Can you tell I love this movie? There’s not a false moment in it. And the acting! Besides Connery, there are great performances by Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Ian Hendry, Ossie Davis…and oh yeah, every other person in the cast. Is it hard to understand the accents sometimes? Sure. But it’s nothing that can’t be overcome by simply paying attention when you watch this film.
And what does this movie say about the military mindset, the lust for power, racism, the duality of heroism and cowardice, the dangers of unquestioning loyalty, and more? A whole helluva lot more than 99% of the other movies – and theatrical plays – that you’ll ever see.
I’ll just finish by saying you are missing so much if you don’t see this movie. You’ll come out of it seeing things a little differently than you ever did before. And that’s all you can possibly ask from a movie.