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tdracer 5th Mar 2018 03:24

Best World War II Movies
OK, with all the debate surrounding how bad (or good) the recent Dunkirk movie is, and the rumors of a Dambusters remake, I think it would be interesting to discuss which WWII movies really hit the mark.
Since I'm starting the thread, I'm making up a few rules:
There will be three categories - 1) is factually based, 2) is a fictional story but takes place within actual events (such as D-day or the Battle of Britain), 3) is 'fantasy' - the events supposedly occur during WWII, but the events are fictional - often an example of how someone wished WWII had gone (Inglorious Bastards being an extreme example).
They must be movies - as fantastic as I think Band of Brothers is (I think the raid at Brecourt Manor may be one of the best filmed battle scenes ever), it's a mini-series. There is a whole lot of good you can do in a 10 hour mini-series that simply isn't possible in a ~2 hour movie.
Realism and accuracy is important (and not just to the events - I think it's meaningful when the equipment, uniforms, etc. are accurate or at least look close ('Patton' was a great movie, but I can never get over that both sides use American tanks, and the German tanks look suspiciously like they are Patton tanks - irony alert).
OK, that being said:
1) Factually based I'd probably pick 'A Bridge too Far'. Extraordinarily well filmed and acted, it's reasonably close to the factual story, and the impact of the film was overwhelming. First time I watched it was with my father - a WWII combat vet but from the Pacific. He was really quiet when we left the theater - it was a little too realistic to be comfortable. Plus it tells a story that wasn't widely known before the movie (at least not on this side of the pond).
Honorable mentions to "Tora, Tora, Tora" - it's documentary style is bit dry for the average audience, but you'll never find a better depiction of the events of Dec. 7, 1941, and "Battle of Britain" - special effects are a bit dated but given it was made ~50 years ago I give them some slack (and they used real aircraft).

2) Fictional Story based on real events:
First on my list has to be "Saving Private Ryan" - again well filmed and acted, impressive special effects, and a riveting story (even if it's fictional). The simple fact that veterans of D-Day found the Omaha landing sequence so realistic as to cause issues says a lot.
Honorable mention to "Twelve O'clock High" - outstanding depiction of how desperate the European air war was in 1942-43 time period.

3) Fantasy
I simply love "Kelly's Hero's". Yea, I know there are plot holes you could drive a Sherman Tank through, but it's dynamite entertainment, the equipment is right (I was told the Tiger tanks are actually old Russian tanks mocked up to look like Tigers, but they do look pretty close - and real surviving Tiger tanks are extremely rare), and the story is fun.

westhawk 5th Mar 2018 04:35

Honorable mention to "Twelve O'clock High" - outstanding depiction of how desperate the European air war was in 1942-43 time period.
2) You stole my thunder tdracer! Oh well, I liked 12OCH allot for the character study aspect of the main characters, especially the Gregory Peck character. In particular, the scene where "General Savage" delivers quite possibly the very best "dressing down" ever captured on film! Also see Command Decision for a similar attributes.

3) Fantasy: Gotta go with Stalag 17 and The Great Escape for their excellent plots, plot devices, dialogue and compelling acting. Honorable mention to The Dirty Dozen just because it was filled with gratuitous violent action and crude characters! Also, Lee Marvin was one of the top movie tough guys of his era, so he had that going for him!

tdracer 5th Mar 2018 04:50

Westhawk, agree that The Great Escape and Stalag 17 are great movies, but The Great Escape belongs in category 1) - it's based on a true story, granted with some major liberties (I read a book about the actual Great Escape long ago). I thought about including it as an honorable mention.
Personally I'd put Stalag 17 into cat. 2) but agree it's borderline between 2) and 3).
Totally agree with Gregory Peck in 12 O'clock High - assume performance by a great actor. There may have been a Gregory Peck movie I've seen somewhere along the line where I didn't think he was great, but if there was I certainly can't remember it...

WingNut60 5th Mar 2018 05:30

Originally Posted by tdracer (Post 10072986)
3) Fantasy
I simply love "Kelly's Hero's". .....

I'm not sure the line that separates types 2 & 3, and I had to double-check before sticking my neck out, but I did seem to remember (correctly ??) that Kelley's Heroes was based, no matter how loosely, on a real event.

The story was covered in a book called “Nazi Gold: The Sensational Story of the World’s Greatest Robbery”.
It tells of a escapade perpetrated by a combination of renegade Nazi and American officers and was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records, in the 1960’s, as the “biggest” robbery ever.

Hokulea 5th Mar 2018 05:40

For me:

1) A Bridge Too Far and The Battle of Britain are hard to beat. I also enjoyed The Longest Day, Tora Tora Tora and Sink the Bismark. A less well known film I still watch every so often is The Battle of the River Plate.

2) Saving Private Ryan is a standout. As I mentioned in the Dambusters thread, I also love The Cruel Sea.

3) I'm struggling with this one. There are plenty of movies but can't think of one that stands out for me right now - I suspect it's because I've always preferred fact of fiction! ETA - how about The Guns of Navarone? I don't get bored of that movie.

On a side note, I've just watched The Darkest Hour. I'm not sure it counts as a war movie as such, but it's certainly one of the most powerful movies I've watched in recent years and would go into category 1.

meadowrun 5th Mar 2018 05:41

It won't be "Battle of the Bulge". Apparently even Eisenhower panned it as a bit of fluff.

We used "12 O'clock High" in management sessions. Played the whole movie. Then many questions about relating aspects of the film to running commercial airlines in the midst of a down cycle.

I do admire "A Bridge Too Far", mostly for its gallantry. Not many films about efforts, mistakes and losing in such dire situations.

Hokulea 5th Mar 2018 05:49

Thought of another couple for category 3 which I love: The Caine Mutiny (although the novel is better than the movie) and Mister Roberts.

oldpax 5th Mar 2018 05:57

"Enemy at the gates?"

oldpax 5th Mar 2018 06:01

Try to edit again!!Here in Thailand Pattaya city has cable TV and as more and more Russian tourists turned up the cable company introduced Russin channels.there were a lot of Russian WW 2 movies shown from their side of the conflict ,I watched a few and some were very good although I cannot speak or read Russian it was easy to understand!!!

Barksdale Boy 5th Mar 2018 06:08

633 Sqn. if only for the music and Harry Andrews' last line.

troppo 5th Mar 2018 06:32

I don't know if any war movie is 'good' however my all time favorites would be Downfall, Saving Private Ryan, Memphis Belle, The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare and Escape to Victory the latter three primarily for their casts and the telling of stories you simply don't get these days.

B Fraser 5th Mar 2018 07:23

It has to be "The Battle Of Britain" if only for the lovely Ms York wandering around in her undies. grrrrrrrrr.

Pontius Navigator 5th Mar 2018 07:36

Cockleshell Heroes, Battle of the River Platte (Anticipation), Sink the Tirpitz, Operation Pedestal, Desert Rats, Sink the Bismarck, The Password is Courage, The Colditz Story, The Wooden Horse, River Kwai, Albert RN,

I also watched some contemporary WW 2 films with David Niven or John Mills. They were good too, especially a desert one with David Niven and the platoon, out of ammunition, fixing bayonets and advancing on German anti-tank and machine guns.

BB, 633 Sqn, that shot of a Land Rover always jarred with me. Agree about the music.

Pontius Navigator 5th Mar 2018 07:37

Oh, and fictional, The Cruel Sea.

Hempy 5th Mar 2018 07:52

In no particular order or category,

Memphis Belle
Saving Pvt Ryan
Enemy at the Gates
Schindler’s List
Letters From Iwo Jima
The Thin Red Line
The Bridge on the River Kwai

BehindBlueEyes 5th Mar 2018 08:04

Would it be too shameful to nominate Where Eagles Dare for Category 3?

Pure escapism but great fun and fabulous score too. I can watch it again and again. Burton and Eastwood in their prime. Great performances also from Derren Nesbitt as Major Von Hapen and the lovely Ingrid Pitt.

“Broadsword calling Danny Boy.”

Hokulea 5th Mar 2018 08:09

How on earth did I forget this? Cat. 2: Das Boot.

Traffic_Is_Er_Was 5th Mar 2018 08:09

In Cat 2, Saving Private Ryan is my all time favourite, followed by Hacksaw Ridge or Flags Of Our Fathers.

vctenderness 5th Mar 2018 10:04

Downfall must hold the record for the most ‘overdubbed’ use of the Hitler rant scene to portray every event imaginable.

jolihokistix 5th Mar 2018 10:19

Not directly WWII movies, but classics like Casablanca must surely be up there for Cat 3.

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