Skip to comments.Memorial Day thread...What's your Favorite WW II war movie?
Posted on 05/30/2004 4:15:31 AM PDT by ken5050
If you happen to turn your TV set on at any time this Memorial Day weekend, there's a strong probability you'll come across a World War II war movie..... the classic Hollywood genre. There are many of them, and, happily a lot of very good ones. So, on this weekend of remembrance, and the dedication of the WW II memorial, what's your favorite, or favorites, and why?
But let's not delve too deeply into a study of film. Rather, just opine as to which you like best, and why.
I'm going to list my five top choices. Not ranking them, because they're not comparable, yet ALL tell a their story well.
"Twelve O'Clock High". Great cast, great story on two levels. The broad effort to make daylight precision bombing effective, and the study of the effects of war, the cost, on human lives. And not ONE female in the entire cast, even as an extra. Remember the scene where the adjutant and the doc are caught after having returned from going along on a bombing raid? When threatened with a court martial for disobeying orders if they do it again, , the two culprits innocently ask if the prohibition extends to the chaplain also, because he's been going along as well, and last mission he shot down a German fighter...
Note: As great as the film is, if you can find a copy of the novel, which is long out of print, buy it and read it.. "They Were Expendable"..stirring portrayal of the PT boats in the South Pacific. Shows how the issue of the fall of Corregidor, and MacArthur's bug-out to Australia, was presented to the war-time American public.
"A Walk in the Sun"..a rarely seen ( don't know why) "slice of war" film about an American platoon tasked to capture an enemy farmhouse. The first of the "all-American" type war films, where each member of the unit is a different ethnic American stereotype, and, oh, that great title song..
" The Bridge on the River Kwai". On all levels, spectacular. The "Colonel Bogie" theme music. The depiction of the brutalization of the POWs by the Japanese is an interesting contrast to those pics coming out of the Iraqi prison today. And Alec Guiness' portrayal of the Brit officer's descent into madness, without judging him, is superb.
"30 seconds over Tokyo"..As wartime propagana, to rally an American homefront that had been receiving nothing but bad news for months, this was a superb effort. Worth watching alone for the unforgettable scene of the bomber diving under the Golden Gate bridge, against that superb theme music.
"The Battle of Britain" ..My choice of all the "docu-drama war films, far better, I think, than "The Longest Day", or "A bridge too Far"..because of the superb aerial photography.
"The Best Years of Our Lives". Nothing to be said, except that one could make the argument that it really isn't a "war" film, in the classic definition. It's a study of the effects of war, but the viewer's mind makes the connection. There are several superb scenes int he movie. The shot from the nose of the bomber, as it flies over thousands of now-grounded planes, is the first hint, though it wasn't intended that way, of what post-war America would become. And of course, the scene where Homer finally allows his fiance to help him remove his prostheses; it served to remind Americans that many who came back, came back far different than when then left.
Note: The movie is based on MacKinlay Kantor's novella "Glory for Me"..alas, long out of print, but if you can find it, well worth the read. Kantor is one of our finest American writers; sadly few today know who he is.
Last thoughts. As we today bemoan "Hollywood", as exemplified by Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand, and countless others, it's almost hard to believe that not too long ago, there was time when the motion picture industry represented all that was good about this country.
FYI..ping list please
Enemy at the Gates
Saving Private Ryan.
The Bridge on the River Kwai, Sands of Iwo Jima, Battle Cry, Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gates...
The Dirty Dozen.
No one will ever top Lee Marvin.
Good films when I was writing the piece, I was almost tempted to exclude films made after 1980, because they feel, and look diffeent..the whole "apocalypse Now" perspective..focusing on War as evil..ignoring that there are bad people, and bad countries in the world...BTW..md bad..my list of "5" ended up being "6"
Midway/ A great movie and history lesson. The battle which gave us the upper hand over the Japanese.
The Devils Brigade/ Excellent character study of a commanding officer and the heavy toll that wartime decision making takes.
I cannot remember the name of the movie where the US and Canadien forces train together and go off on a difficult mission, but this movie has it all. Humor, sadness, intensity.
This will probably already be up there when this is posted, but I think I'd like to be one of the first to mention:
Modern war movies are like modern westerns. Most of them suck.
The Devil's Brigade was the film about the joint US/Canadian Special forces Commando..great film..Midway was ruined by the PC story line about the Navy pilot whose fiance was Japanese-American, and was interred with her family...For aerial footage, Tora 3x was better..
Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, Patton, The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan, Midway, Tora Tora Tora
The Old Geezer here, again... BY FAR.... FROM HERE TO ETERNITY... THE BEST MOVIE OF WHAT MILITARY LIFE IN THE ARMY WAS ALL ABOUT. EVERY-DAY LIFE OF THE GI... HIS UP'S AND DOWNS.... WHAT HE DID WHILE ON LEAVE... THE LIFE AMONG HIS COMRADS AND ESPECIALLY THE CORRUPTION OF HIGHER UPS.. AND FINALLY AT THE WINK OF AN EYE TURNED INTO A GREAT FIGHTING MACHINE....
GOD BLESS THOSE MEN OF THE 'GREATESST GENERATION'... CWEY FEW OF US LEFT. STRETCH
wanna opine, and/or ping...?
"Saving Private Ryan"
When I was a kid, my favorite was "Ambush Bay."
Battle of the Bulge, and Patton also come to mind.
The Battle of Britian is also a good one.
Favorite though... I'm still thinking on that one.
Oh yeah, I forgot "The Dirty Dozen." Great movie, and I enjoyed the book, as well. Also, "Kelly's Heroes."
Definitely TORA TORA TORA. I went with my mom to see it and for some reason I never forgot that movie. I will never forget the words "We have awakened a sleeping giant!"
Operation Petticoat, Father Goose and The Wackiest Ship in the Army
Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down.
Both movies made me cry numerous times.
Unforgiven makes the grade only because it starred the Master.
"The Great Escape" - great cast, great story, Steve McQueen
"A Bridge Too Far" - So tantalizing close to victory, but so far from success - great cast
"Flying Leathernecks" - Marines, John Wayne
"Mrs. Miniver" is a great film. I didn't thnk of it i that context, but it belongs,along with the "Best Years of our lives".. off to church..catch up with you later...
WWll movies are the greatest for me. I have many favorites but I guess #1 would have to be "The Battle of the Bulge". Honestly, I could, and do, watch WWll movies all day long. Today will be no exception.
On a side note my family used to know the actor who plays the son to Frederic March. He later became a very successful art dealer and is about 1000% gay.
I know this would probably be more appropriate for a Veteran's Day thread, but I just thought I'd mention one of the best films ever directed by Stanley Kubrick:
Paths of Glory.
What..you forgot "McHales' Navy joins the Air Force?"
The score is wonderful..it blends in..doesn't overwhelm the film, there's no one "SONG" or theme, as is the usual custom..BTW..take my suggestion, if you can find the book, read it..
Easy...Band of Brothers.
I also like Kelly's Heroes, although I don't really consider it a WWII movie. The attitude of the film is very 70's...no patriotism but everyone in it for the gold. Still, watching Carroll O'Connor listen to the advance on the radio, thinking that they are gung-ho fighters rather than looking for the gold, is one of the funniest scenes ever filmed. "Did you hear that?! They've even got the damned grave-diggers on board!"
By the way, Gene Hackman is one of my favorite actors. I don't know how anyone can compare him to that putz Dustin Hoffman. For me, there's simply no basis for comparison.
"Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, Patton, The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan, Midway, Tora Tora Tora..."
And the list goes on and on.....
I could picture a long weekend with snacks and these movies.....paradise!
If you ever get a chance to read the book, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is one of the best books written about the war.
Kelly is a former platoon leader who was busted down in rank, because the objective he was ordered to take, a hill, resulted in the lives of allied troops already holding the hill. He did as he was ordered, but had to take the fall for someoneelse's mistake.
The film is irreverant toward military ideals, but captures the truth and reality of fighting forces and the games that go on behind the lines, in the same vein of Joseph Heller's - Catch 22, the book, not the movie.
The cast is a great lineup -
Clint Eastwood .... Pvt. Kelly
Telly Savalas .... Master Sgt. Big Joe
Don Rickles .... Staff Sgt. Crapgame
Carroll O'Connor .... Major General Colt
Donald Sutherland .... Sgt. Oddball, Tank Commander
Gavin MacLeod .... Moriarty, Tank crewman
Hal Buckley .... Captain Maitland
Here is just one line.
Big Joe: [shouting to the captured German Colonel] Look! We're not worried about the German army, we've got the troubles on our own. To the right General Patton, to the left the British Army, to the rear our own goddamn artillery, and besides all that it's raining.
Maybe too "arty" for some but for me: "The Thin Red Line"
The main character is an English translator who decides to volunteer for service after her boyfriend from the RAF is shot down and taken as a POW by the German army.
Cate Blanchett stars as the title character. Great actress! Plus, she's absolutely one of the most gorgeous Englishwomen I've ever seen.
Although your question was about WWII movies, I would add that "Sgt. York" was the best war movie of all time. "All Quiet on the Western Front" was also good.
That's actually what I didn't like, Hackman playing the sadistic goon. He's done that in a few films.
Personally, I think that we would be here forever if we were to list all of the noteworthy films which focused on WWII and it's attendant horrors; POW camps, civilian deaths, the Holocaust, etc.
I'm not sure if this was ever made into a feature film-it probably was, but I've never seen it-but
The Moon Is Down
was a fantastic novel, and a great piece of political, wartime propaganda!
Guns Of Navarone - Americanization of Emily - The Big Red One - From Hell To Victory = Saving Private Ryan
Sorry, I didn't know it had to be a serious movie, in that case Operation Pacific, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.
The Great Escape with Steve McQueen, The Dirty Dozen with Lee Marvin, and Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant - and anything with John Wayne.
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