War Hunt is a 1962 war film starring John Saxon, Robert Redford and Charles Aidman. The film was directed by Denis Sanders, produced by his brother, Terry Sanders for T-D Enterprises, and released by United Artists.
The movie features the film debuts of Sydney Pollack and Tom Skerritt and the first major role for Redford. Redford and Pollack met on the set of this film as actors. The two would later form a prolific working relationship, with Pollack eventually directing Redford in seven films.
The National Board of Review named the film as one of the ten best films of 1962. It won the Silver Sail best feature film award at the 1962 Locarno International Film Festival and was nominated for a UN BAFTA award in 1964.
Near the end of the Korean War in 1953, a new replacement, Private Loomis (Robert Redford), is assigned to an infantry company in the front line. He notices a quiet Private Endore (John Saxon) and is warned by others in the company not to speak to him. Once night falls, Loomis notices Endore in black face and dark clothing infiltrating enemy lines to gather information and spread terror amongst the enemy by killing enemy soldiers with his knife. Endore's odd ritual of drawing a circle around the body with his knife may indicate that he is, in fact, a serial killer. Company Commander Captain Pratt (Charles Aidman) lets Endore act independently.
Endore's only friend is a Korean orphan whom Loomis wishes to place in an orphanage, a desire which brings him into conflict with Endore. Tension increases when the armistice occurs and the others in the unit wish to return home to the United States, but Endore does not.John Saxon as Private Raymond Endore
Robert Redford as Private Roy Loomis
Charles Aidman as Captain Wallace Pratt
Sydney Pollack as Sergeant Owen Van Horn
Tommy Matsuda as Charlie
Gavin MacLeod as Private Crotty
Anthony Ray as Private Joshua Fresno
Tom Skerritt as Sergeant Stan Showalter
William Challee as Lieutenant Colonel
Nancy Hsueh as Mama San
The film was shot in 15 days for US$250,000. Francis Ford Coppola drove a truck in the film and associate producer Noel Black worked as an electrician. The Sanders brothers, who started in Hollywood as second unit directors of the river sequences in The Night of the Hunter, shot most of the film at night to hide their low budget.
Producer Terry Sanders sent the script to the Pentagon in the chance that the military might provide assistance. The Army replied that it objected to many portions of the script such as a private soldier being an independent professional killer with his commanding officer's approval, a scene of the captain calling a sergeant an "idiot", and scenes the Army thought "too gruesome to be in good taste".
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "one of the most original and haunting war movies in years" and said "most of this picture is pure unvarnished gold".