The Mountain Road (1960)

102 mins | Drama | June 1960

Director:

Daniel Mann

Writer:

Alfred Hayes

Producer:

William Goetz

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Edward Curtiss

Production Designer:

Cary Odell

Production Company:

William Goetz Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. According to an Apr 1958 LAEx news item, producer William Goetz wanted Marlon Brando to star in the film. A Dec 1958 "Rambling Reporter" column in HR stated that James Wong Howe was to be the film's director of photography, and a Jan 1959 "Rambling Reporter" column noted that Dora Ding was to play the female lead. Although a May 1959 HR news item places Don Rickles in the cast, Rickles does not appear in the film. An Oct 1958 "Rambling Reporter" column adds that Robert Mitchum was being considered for a role in the film, which at that time was to be shot in South Korea.
       Studio publicity in the film’s production file at the AMPAS Library noted that location filming was done in the following Arizona locations: the set for the Chinese village was erected on the Horse Mesa Dam Road, 40 miles east of Phoenix; another set was erected in the vicinity of Superstition Mountain; the Fish Creek Hill Bridge on the Apache Trail was revamped to resemble the Chinese wooden bridge that is blown up in the action; and the temple set, ammunition and supply station and airfield were erected in Nogales. A Jul 1959 NYT article adds that the extreme heat at the locations caused frequent cases of heat prostration among the cast and crew. According to a Sep 1959 LAEx news item, the battle scenes were filmed at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, California.
       Studio publicity materials add that Lisa Lu, who played “Madame Sue-Mei Hung” in the picture, ... More Less

The opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. According to an Apr 1958 LAEx news item, producer William Goetz wanted Marlon Brando to star in the film. A Dec 1958 "Rambling Reporter" column in HR stated that James Wong Howe was to be the film's director of photography, and a Jan 1959 "Rambling Reporter" column noted that Dora Ding was to play the female lead. Although a May 1959 HR news item places Don Rickles in the cast, Rickles does not appear in the film. An Oct 1958 "Rambling Reporter" column adds that Robert Mitchum was being considered for a role in the film, which at that time was to be shot in South Korea.
       Studio publicity in the film’s production file at the AMPAS Library noted that location filming was done in the following Arizona locations: the set for the Chinese village was erected on the Horse Mesa Dam Road, 40 miles east of Phoenix; another set was erected in the vicinity of Superstition Mountain; the Fish Creek Hill Bridge on the Apache Trail was revamped to resemble the Chinese wooden bridge that is blown up in the action; and the temple set, ammunition and supply station and airfield were erected in Nogales. A Jul 1959 NYT article adds that the extreme heat at the locations caused frequent cases of heat prostration among the cast and crew. According to a Sep 1959 LAEx news item, the battle scenes were filmed at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, California.
       Studio publicity materials add that Lisa Lu, who played “Madame Sue-Mei Hung” in the picture, recruited P. C. Lee, Leo Chen, Richard Wang and C. N. Hu, faculty members from the Army Language School, Chinese Mandarin Department, to appear in the film. According to a Jun 1959 LA Mirror-News news item, Frank A. Gleason, who served as a technical consultant on the film, was actually the head of the demolition crew on which Theodore White’s novel was based. The Jul 1959 NYT article added that White, who served as the Chinese Bureau Chief for Time magazine during World War II, originally interviewed Gleason for the magazine.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Beverly Hills Citizen
25 May 1960.
---
Box Office
28 Mar 1960.
---
Daily Variety
23 Mar 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Mar 60
p. 6.
Filmfacts
1960
p. 145.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1959
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1959
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 1959
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 60
p. 3.
LA Mirror News
25 Jun 1959.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
14 Apr 1958.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
6 Sep 1959.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Mar 60
p. 636.
New York Times
26 Jul 1959.
---
New York Times
30 Jun 60
p. 22.
Variety
23 Mar 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Head of const
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech consultant
Tech consultant
Loc supv
First aid
Transportation
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Mountain Road by Theodore White (New York, 1958).
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1960
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 May 1960
New York opening: 29 June 1960
Production Date:
9 June--20 August 1959
Copyright Claimant:
William Goetz Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1959
Copyright Number:
LP16587
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
102
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19452
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In China, in 1944, as American troops are forced to retreat from the encroaching Japanese army, Maj. Baldwin, a member of the U.S. demolition team, is ordered to blow up an air base to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Baldwin, an engineer in civilian life, finds the assignment ironic in that he was the person who designed the base. As the troops prepare to pull out, Baldwin’s superior, Gen. Loomis, summons him to his office and informs Baldwin that he has been assigned to lead an eight-man demolition team to blow up the roads and bridges in the path of the advancing Japanese army. When Loomis offers to countermand the orders in light of Baldwin’s inexperience in commanding troops, Baldwin states that he asked for the assignment because he wanted to experience command. Loomis then warns that command is the exercise of unlimited power. After Baldwin explains the mission to Sgt. Michaelson and Prince, two of the men selected for his team, they grumble that they had been told they could return to headquarters at Kwei Yang after blowing up the airstrip. Baldwin is unsympathetic to their complaints, however. Accompanied by Prince, Michaelson, Lewis, Miller and Collins, the team’s translator who feels empathy with the Chinese, Baldwin heads out to seek permission to blow up a bridge from Col. Li, the Chinese commander of the region. Li then informs them that the Japanese are advancing toward a giant munitions dump in the region and suggests that it, too, should be destroyed. Li assigns Col. Kwan to accompany Baldwin, and as they are readying to leave, Madame Sue-Mei Hung, ... +


In China, in 1944, as American troops are forced to retreat from the encroaching Japanese army, Maj. Baldwin, a member of the U.S. demolition team, is ordered to blow up an air base to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Baldwin, an engineer in civilian life, finds the assignment ironic in that he was the person who designed the base. As the troops prepare to pull out, Baldwin’s superior, Gen. Loomis, summons him to his office and informs Baldwin that he has been assigned to lead an eight-man demolition team to blow up the roads and bridges in the path of the advancing Japanese army. When Loomis offers to countermand the orders in light of Baldwin’s inexperience in commanding troops, Baldwin states that he asked for the assignment because he wanted to experience command. Loomis then warns that command is the exercise of unlimited power. After Baldwin explains the mission to Sgt. Michaelson and Prince, two of the men selected for his team, they grumble that they had been told they could return to headquarters at Kwei Yang after blowing up the airstrip. Baldwin is unsympathetic to their complaints, however. Accompanied by Prince, Michaelson, Lewis, Miller and Collins, the team’s translator who feels empathy with the Chinese, Baldwin heads out to seek permission to blow up a bridge from Col. Li, the Chinese commander of the region. Li then informs them that the Japanese are advancing toward a giant munitions dump in the region and suggests that it, too, should be destroyed. Li assigns Col. Kwan to accompany Baldwin, and as they are readying to leave, Madame Sue-Mei Hung, the American-educated widow of a Chinese officer, joins them for the journey to Kwei Yang. They proceed to the bridge, and after dispersing the peasants, blow it up as Baldwin wonders if the peasants will understand their motives. That night, when they stop to rest, Baldwin tries to convince Sue-Mei to take the bus to Kwei Yang, but she explains that public transportation is too primitive and corrupt for safe conveyance, causing Baldwin to remark on the brutality of the Chinese culture. The next morning, a truck stuck along the mountainous road blocks their progress, and when the driver brandishes a gun, demanding that the Americans push his vehicle, Baldwin climbs into the cab and steers it over the edge of a cliff. Later, Kwan informs Baldwin that Li has fled into the hills with his men, leaving his outpost vulnerable. Disgusted by what he sees as Li’s cowardice, Baldwin realizes that he must now destroy the road to prevent the Japanese from reaching the outpost. When Sue-Mei worries that the peasants along the road might be injured, Baldwin suggests bribing them with food and tobacco to get them to leave, and Sue-Mei reacts with disgust at his reducing a person’s dignity to a common bribe. After blowing up the road, they continue onto a village where they tend to Lewis, who has fallen ill with pneumonia. The next morning, a Chinese deserter tells Kwan that the Japanese are on their way. As they are about to pull out of the village, Collins suggests offering the hungry villagers their extra rations, but when he tries to distribute them, he is trampled to death by the ravenous mob. After loading Collins’ body onto one of their trucks, Baldwin wonders what he should tell the soldier’s parents about their son’s death. When Sue-Mei laments that no one can help China, a country without order, Baldwin reacts with anger, saying he must believe that his mission is worthwhile. The next morning, Baldwin earns the enmity of his men when he announces that he has decided to blow up the munitions dump. At the dump, after wrangling the Chinese general’s permission to detonate his post, Baldwin assigns Miller to drive the ailing Lewis and Collins’ body to Kwei Yang, while the others wire the dump with explosives. When the facility detonates, the massive explosion sends Sue-Mei and Baldwin scurrying under a truck for cover, and he tenderly holds her. Continuing along the road, they spot Collins' body and Baldwin realizes that Chinese bandits must have jumped Miller and stolen his truck. Enraged, Baldwin insists on exacting revenge. Upon finding the discarded bodies of Miller and Lewis, Sue-Mei argues that revenge will change nothing, but Baldwin refuses to be deterred. Locating the truck parked in front of a village inn, they enter the building to confront the bandits. When a shootout ensues, the Americans take cover in the hills. After a bullet strikes the truck, setting it on fire, Baldwin decides to send a drum filled with gasoline careening down the hill into the truck. Sue-Mei desperately tries to stop him, but he doggedly releases the barrel, sending it crashing into the truck, igniting a giant explosion that engulfs the village in flames. Upon reaching the next outpost, Baldwin radios the American liaison at headquarters to report that the dump has been destroyed. The liaison congratulates him for eliminating the dump, a major American objective. When Baldwin asks Sue-Mei to finish the journey with him, she declares that her journey ended at the village. Baldwin tries to explain that he became obsessed by the power of his command and now regrets abusing it, but Sue-Mei rejects his rationale. Baldwin then turns to thank his men for a job well done. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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