Cast & Crew
In 1951, some of the islands within the Republic of the Philippines are besieged by the activities of the Huks, a group of rebels who are burning plantations owned by foreigners. After island sugar plantation owner Dickson is killed by the Huks, his long-estranged son Greg returns from the United States to settle the estate. He is greeted at the Manila airport by Cindy Rogers, wife of Bart Rogers, a boyhood friend who, with his father Stephen, oversees the plantation. Greg, a successful engineer, angers Cindy with his callous indifference to the death of his father and the plight of the Philippines. After setting sail for the plantation on the Stella Maris , Greg witnesses an attack on the boat by a group of Huks headed by rebel leader Kalak. Bart and some Filipino soldiers onboard successfully fend off the attack, but Greg is shocked by the ferocity displayed by Bart, whom Greg remembered as a gentle boy afraid of guns. When they arrive at the lush Dickson plantation, Greg warmly greets Stephen, whom he has always loved as a surrogate father. Stephen privately tells Greg that he knows his callousness is a mask, but Greg expresses no regret over failing to reconcile with his father and bitterly criticizes his father's obsession with the plantation. That same afternoon, Greg goes for a swim at the nearby beach and encounters Cindy. Although she is warming to Greg, she remains suspicious of his cynicism and is startled when he suddenly asks if she loves Bart. Before she can answer, a Huk who has observed them swims underwater and attacks Greg from behind. The two men struggle over the Huk's knife until Greg strangles the man. That night, Greg makes a pass at Cindy, but she does not respond. When she goes to her bedroom, though, Bart expresses his fear that Cindy is attracted to Greg. She denies it, then gently assures Bart that it was the war and the current situation that have changed him. Although he wants her to return to Manila for her own safety, Cindy insists on staying. The next day, Major Balatbat, who is in charge of government troops on the island, insists that Greg attend the Huk's funeral so that he can act as "bait" for Huk sympathizers who might be there, just as his brave father had done weeks before. Although Greg admires Balatbat for trying to keep the island free of the Huks, he says he is not interested in freedom fighting and only wants to sell the plantation and leave. That afternoon, Greg asks Stephen how long it will take to sell and tries to convince him to share the profits and return with him to America. Stephen, who came to the Philippines in 1907, turns down the offer and says that he wants to stay and help his adopted home. Just then, Kalak and some of the Huks kill a plantation guard and set fire to some of the out buildings. After Bart helps to chase off the Huks, he repeatedly fires at the body of a Huk who is already dead. Seeing this, Greg asks Stephen what happened to Bart. Stephen explains that the harsh years they spent in a Japanese concentration camp during the war changed Bart. Later, even though he does not want to get involved, Greg gathers all of the plantation workers and tells them that they must be armed against the Huks and take turns standing guard. Although they are reluctant to take the guns, Greg convinces them that the destruction of the plantation will also destroy their livelihood. Stephen then asks Greg if he can take some of the plantation workers into the village to defend it against attack. Worried for Stephen's safety, Greg asks him to stay on the plantation, but Stephen sneaks into the village to guard the schoolhouse. A short time later, Kalak enters and shoots Stephen. At the plantation, meanwhile, Greg watches over the resting Cindy and tells her he is sorry for what happened to Bart. Just then, hundreds of Huks rush onto the plantation. During the melee, Bart jumps onto the plantation's train and speeds toward the attacking rebels. Greg also jumps onto the train, and together they kill many of the Huks while driving further into their stronghold. The Huks throw bales of hay onto the tracks to stop the train, but Greg and Bart are saved by the arrival of Balatbat and his men, who force the remaining rebels to retreat. That night, Greg cries over Stephen's body, which the villagers have covered with a Philippine flag, and promises to stay on the island and fight. Balatbat, however, tells Greg that the island will soon be overrun by the Huks and asks him to leave, taking as many of the villagers as possible with him. The next day, Greg, Cindy and Bart help dozens of villagers onto the departing Stella Maris and leave the island, accompanied by a handful of soldiers. Unknown to them, a Huk saboteur is also onboard and plants some dynamite below deck. Meanwhile, on another part of the island, after Kalak rallies his men to finish their job, they rush into small boats and row toward the Stella Maris . A short time later, Greg sees the approaching boats and orders the captain to speed ahead. As the Huks start to fire, small explosions rock the boat, prompting Greg to order his men to push all of the oil drums overboard. Now, as the Huk boats approach, Greg shoots at the drums, causing them to explode and spread flames across the water. As Cindy guides the women and children into the boat's interior, the men try to stave off the attack. Bart is mortally wounded but manages to throw sticks of dynamite at the advancing Huks while Greg and Kalak begin fighting hand-to-hand. After Greg bests Kalak and throws him overboard, the Huks begin to flee while dozens of Philippine soldiers arrive on the shore. As the soldiers fire at the remaining Huks, Cindy sees Bart's body and faints. Greg carries her off the Stella Maris as the villagers are evacuated. When they are safely ashore, Balatbat points out the smoke on the horizon and tells Greg that the plantation is finished. Greg says he will start over again and walks toward home with Cindy and the villagers.
James H. Anderson
Monchi Brown Aguinalco
Col. Ernesto D. Rufino
Prior to the opening credits, the following written prologue appears onscreen, while background action involving the "Huks" takes place: "In the year 1951, the newly born Republic of the Phillippines [sic] was fighting for its life against a lawless guerrilla army dedicated to death, fire and pillage. This is one chapter in the story of that bloody struggle...filmed entirely on the battleground." After the written prologue, the character "Kalak" addresses a group of Huks and challenges them to destroy all of the plantations.
Following this, the brief opening credits roll, which list actors George Montgomery, Mona Freeman and John Baer, then the film's title, followed by credits for Stirling Silliphant, Collier Young, Albert Glasser and John Barnwell. The end credits include cast and character names for James Bell, Teddy Benavedes, Mario Barri and Ben Perez, followed by the statement "and 27th Battalion and Combat Team, Philippine Army," then the remaining production credits. Although Silliphant adapted the film's screenplay from his own novel, also entitled Huk!, the novel was apparently never published.
As noted onscreen and in copyright records, Huk! was filmed entirely on location in the Philippines. According to modern historical sources, "Huks" was the name given to Hukbalahap guerrilla fighters. Although thousands of the Huks had fought alongside Allied Forces to defeat Japan during World War II, following the war, the Huks were dominated by Communists who sought to overthrow the newly formed Republic of the Philippines and divide the large plantations. Within the film, the Huks are referred to as rebels and guerrilla fighters who sought land reform but are never called Communists.
In one of the film's scenes, "Stephen Rogers" tells "Greg" about a serious problem that is straining "Bart" and "Cindy's" marriage, but Stephen's words are deliberately obscured. Although here is no further explanation of the problem, within the story there are some allusions suggesting that Bart is impotent. A Los Angeles Times news item on July 11, 1956 stated that Montgomery would be attending the film's premiere in Manila, but the premiere date has not been determined.