The Mountain Road

TitleThe Mountain Road
Publication TypeFilm
Year of Publication1960
AuthorsMann, Daniel
Running Time1h 42min
Date Released07/21/1960
DistributorColumbia Pictures
CountryUnited States
Publication LanguageEnglish

The Mountain Road is a 1960 war film based on the 1958 novel of the same name by journalist-historian Theodore H. White. Maj. Baldwin (James Stewart) is an American officer stationed in China during World War II charged with stopping the advance of the Japanese army and protecting civilians. One of his tasks is destroying infrastructure to stop the progress of enemy troops. Baldwin is put in command of a unit and is taken aback by how primitive China is. After blowing up a mountain bridge, leaving hundreds trapped, he attempts to help after the intervention of widow Sue-Mei Hung (Lisa Lu), who is an English-educated Chinese woman. Heavy casualties and guerilla tactics leave the major furious and he ends up exacting revenge on the villagers instead of helping. The film is a rather somber treatment of World War II and includes themes that were taboo for Hollywood during the war years, such as tensions between Allies and racism among American troops. The protagonist is a frustrated and morally conflicted U.S. officer unsure about the value of his mission. For these reasons, The Mountain Road is often labeled as anti-war, but it was made with the cooperation of the Pentagon, and it is much more respectful of the military as an institution than are the well-known anti-war films of the 1960s and 1970s.

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