The Reluctant Heroes
Directed byRobert Day
Written byErnie Frankel
Herman Hoffman
Screenplay byHerman Hoffman
Produced byRobert Mirisch
Aaron Spelling (executive producer)
Shelley Hull (associate producer)
StarringKen Berry
Jim Hutton
Trini López
Don Marshall
Ralph Meeker
Cameron Mitchell
Warren Oates
CinematographyArchie R. Dalzell
Edited byArt Seid
Music byFrank De Vol
Aaron Spelling Productions
Distributed by
Release date
  • November 23, 1971 (1971-11-23) (United States)
Running time
73 min
CountryUnited States

The Reluctant Heroes is a made-for-TV movie and war film set in the period of the Korean War. It was directed by Robert Day and starred Ken Berry, Jim Hutton, Trini López, Don Marshall, Ralph Meeker, Cameron Mitchell and Warren Oates.[1]


A tired platoon is about to be sent home, but is picked to hold an observation point.[2] They are led by the inexperienced Lt. Parnell Murphy (Ken Berry), who is a military historian with no combat experience. In order to defend Hill 656, which has strategic importance, he uses military tactics of Napoleon and Alexander the Great,[3] which he draws from his own studies in history.



The original title of the film was The Egghead on Hill 656 and was based on an original script by Herman Hoffman. Robert Mirsch signed to produce in February 1971.[4]

It was filmed on a Paramount Studios back lot.[5]

One of the issues addressed in the film is racism.[5][6] Even though the film was lacking in some areas, its emphasis was correct on the strategic importance of bridges.[5]


The Los Angeles Times said "there is nothing new in the movie" but it "has its entertaining moments mostly because the players on the screen are so easy to watch."[7]


  1. ^ "The Reluctant Heroes". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  2. ^ The Evening News November 23, 1971 5B TV Highlights, MOVIE OF THE WEEK - "The Reluctant Heroes
  3. ^ The Milwaukee Sentinel Tuesday, November 23, 1971 Page 14, Part 1 ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK: "The Reluctant Heroes"
  4. ^ Mirisch Will Produce 'The Egghead' Movie Los Angeles Times 26 Feb 1971: i22.
  5. ^ a b c Lentz 2003, pp. 293-95.
  6. ^ Lentz 2003, pp. 444.
  7. ^ Beary Saves the Day With Indian Tactics Beigel, Jerry. Los Angeles Times 23 Nov 1971: f16.