Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Hill

At a military prison in Libya during WWII, a brutal sergeant major (Harry Andrews) subjects his prisoners to grueling and interminable tasks. When a new inmate dies under such conditions, his squad leader (Sean Connery) defies the warden and finds himself the target of his sadism. "The Hill" is a gritty prison movie from master director Sidney Lumet, made at the height of (and assumedly as an antidote to) Connery's successes in the Bond films, who proves truly effective here. He is supported by a well-rounded cast highlighted by Andrews, chilling as the barbarous R.S.M., and Ossie Davis playing a member of Connery's squad. "The Hill" must have served as inspiration for Rod Lurie's "The Last Castle", a tepid, similarly plotted film starring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini, which took to moralizing and lost much of the message that was demonstrated here (if it indeed sought to retain it). In his film, Lumet grimly captures the horrors of a military prison and makes a more profound statement on the human spirit.