Also Anthony Mann’s MEN IN WAR.
And maybe KING RAT, though it has been a long, long time since seeing it …
Best War movies – probably one of the broadest subject ever, depending on how one is defined, and could be divided into several dozen sub categories within itself – War Action/ War drama/ War Documentaries/ Fiction/ Most Authentic/ Based on real events – Periods/ Historical/ Comedies/ Greco-Roman/ Traditional Hollywood/ British/ Foreign… almost endless. Open for debate but in a traditional sense, a good war movie needs to have good action on top of a good story and stock characters, whether based on facts or fiction. And it wouldn’t hurt to be entertaining. But since this is theauteurs forum, I guess it’s a different ballgame and the criterias for the picks are the obvious ones – serious, important films. Hell, some of the great ones are comedies, like the “The Great Dictator”, “MASH” or even Blake Edwards’ “Operation Petticoat”(aka the Pink Sub). Although a constant critical bias exist, a good war film doesn’t have to be PC or “Anti-War”(a cliched’ term I personnaly despise) to be good. It doesn’t have to be “realistic” either. Samuel Fuller, a decorated vet of many WW2 campaigns himself was once quoted in an interview stating (para-phrase) that “it is literally impossible to make a realistic war movie – unless someone starts a fire in a movie theater, and began shooting real bullets over the audiences, but then people would stop going to the movies!” Believe the Man, he knows.
I’m probably one of the few, if not the only member of this forum who’s actually been fighting in this current conflict(s) at the moment but I’m not taking the high ground. Don’t make no difference ‘cause I’m a film lover first more than anything. Damn the IEDs, full speed ahead with those DVDs!!!
Here’s my pick NOT IN ORDER:
-# These five are classics, but echo our current situations these last six years:
Bridges at Toko-Ri
The Sand Pebbles
Guns at Batasi
The Battle of Algiers (very political, though the French commander came out a symphatetic character)
-# Epics/ Large ensemble:
Otto Preminger’s In Harm’s Way
Battle of Britain
The Longest Day (still stands out)
-# Sunken Fleet:
The Cruel Sea
In Which We Serve
-# Death of an army/ Rare subject/ Military disasters:
Kobayashi’s The Human Condition
Ballad of a Soldier
Kokoda (Australian struggle against the Japanese in Pacific jungle)
A Bridge Too Far
Days of Glory (Arab-French Moroccan troops fighting in Europe)
Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron (Retreat from the Russian Front!)
El Alamein (about the Italian defeat in North Africa)
Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain
Letters from Iwo Jima
Samuel Fuller’s Merril’s Marauders (forgotten army in Burma)
The Thin Red Line
-# Resistance movements/ Mutiny/ Prisoners
Come and See
Rome: Open City
Soldiers of Orange
Melville’s Army of Shadows
The Great Raid
-# Documentaries/ faux-documentary:
Ophul’s The Sorrow and the Pity (ah, …the French)
It Happened Here (faux: British capitulated, Germans occupy Britain!)
Why We Fight (2005)
The World at War (tv series, narrated by Lawrence Olivier)
The Six Day War (Israel’s surprise victory against the combined Arab Armies of Nasser)
– NOTABLES: Decision Before Dawn, Missing, Imamura’s Black Rain, Bravo Two Zero, Hotel Rwanda, The Cuckoo, Bergman’s Shame, The Eagle Has Landed, King Rat, Paths of Glory, No Man’s Land, The Great Escape, The Lost Battalion, Tears of the Sun, Where Eagles Dare, Battleground, The Tuskeegee Airmen, Major Dundee, Play Dirty, Sink the Bismark, Troy, Away All Boats, The Beast, Hell’s Angels…
Love it or hate it, Apocalypse Now and Saving Pvt. Ryan/ Band of Brothers are important, well made films.
– I love Grand Illusion, but like my lads said – “Fancy officers, cross-dressing, fine dining surrender monkeys on a tea party”. Oh boy!
I’ve yet to see Spike Lee’s film Miracle at St. Anna – I think it’s great since the public tend to forget thousands of black soldiers fought and died in WW2.
– We just saw Stop-Loss recently, and thought it was a very honest portrayal of what’s really happening… to us, without the usual bombast typical of hollywood. I heard it was panned by critics and all – maybe they preferred if the deserter soldier decided to escape to Canada instead of returning. In a better world that would be an easy thing to do.
– I still refused to see De Palma’s Redacted, not in any artistic ground though – it’s just that we’re already living and seeing it, no need to receive anymore preaching…
FILMYANDY – Good choice on The Lives Of Others, an excellent movie and one you could actually start a new topic with – THE COLD WAR /EAST VS. WEST . I’m sure there’s plenty enough movies for everyone to disect. Just a thought.
every Samuel fuller film!
Noel Danseco … thanks for the beautiful insight – Army of Shadows,Stalag 17, come and see, Days of Glory, Gallipoli are a few on my to-watch list. Somehow I did miss Miracle at St.Anna too.
Three months ago, I would have picked Frankenheimer’s unsung gem, The Train; Paths of Glory; Battle of Algiers or Go Tell the Spartans … but, years after the fact, I recently caught up with Come and See and (for me, at least) all bets are off. I still give points, though, to Saving Private Ryan, (yes, I know, it’s unfashionable here to pay it any honor), Children of Paradise, (not technically a war movie, but certainly filmed amid the swirl of battle) and Pollack’s Castle Keep, (a curious failure that nonetheless succeeds in conveying the surreal side of making war).
Downfall, the german film which basically Valkyrie is copied from (not wholly though) is probably my favorite war film of all time, other than The Battle of Algiers (Ennio Morricone’s music is so captivating) and The Thin Red Line.
“every Samuel fuller film!” Even the one staring Burt Reynolds?
@JPBelmondo and @Noel Danseco – Just done watching Army of Shadows and I loved it.
though it does not show any confrontation on the battlefield, it does an excellent job depicting the resistance from the resurgents.
the great escape, paths of glory, dr. strangelove, braveheart (i still like mel gibson)
apacolypse now to me is one the most overrated movies. i watched for two hours thinking this is okay and then at the end nothing happened. martin sheen is staring at some fat, bloated idiot telling us he is mesmorized by him. there was no resolution to what started as decent movie.
Attack and Downfall to name a couple. Chaos up close and personal.
Andrez Wadja’s War Trilogy: A Generation, Kanal, and Ashes and Diamonds.
Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers
Alexei Balabanov’s “Voyna” (War) was the best war film I watched last year.
Definitely Wellman’s Batlleground, Battle of Algiers, but lets not forget Henry King’s Twelve O’clock High. But I also agree with
Mr. JP Belmondo that Saving Private Ryan is a cliche ridden pile of junk regardless of how much they spent on it. Hobbled by wooden
performances, jesse franco zoom quick cut for no reason camera work and I’ll tell you what to feel musical (blanch) score by john williams.
1- “apocalypse now” is a masterpiece
2- “the thin red line” is almost a masterpiece
3- “aguirre: the wrath of god” is also a masterpiece
4- “full metal jacket” is getting better each time i see it
5- “beau travail” (claire denis) for is uniqueness
mentions to “saving private ryan” for is opening scene and “flandres” for is balls
Schindler’s List = Jewsploitation
Hell’s Angels is my favorite war film.
Tora! Tora! Tora! and of course Saving Private Ryan.
The Thin Red Line.
Paths of glory
All quiet on the western front
The deer hunter
Idi I Smotri
Lawrence of arabia
from here to eternity
Full Metal Jacket
Johnny got his gun
Cross of Iron
John Ford’s ‘They Were Expendable’
Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘To Be or Not To Be’ (Mel Brooks’ version wasn’t bad either)
Eva Marisaldi’s ‘Cuckoo’
John Sturges’ ‘The Great Escape’
Buster Keaton’s ‘The General’
Powell and Pressburger’s ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’
Michael Cimino’s ‘The Deer Hunter’
Bruce Beresford’s ‘Breaker Morant’
Peter Weir’s ‘Gallipoli’
Howard Hawks’ ‘To Have and Have Not’
John Ford’s U.S. Calvary trilogy
The Burmese Harp.
One of the rare war films that addresses personal responsibility and duty, not to one’s country, but to mankind.
RE- Danny Southern
Good pick mentioning Denis’ “Beau Travail”. Beautifully shot and a brilliant subject, though I’d consider it more of a military drama than a war film. Great, surprising ending too!
Just done watching Tin Drum, did not it amusing enough but being a weak heart, i found myself jumping up from the couch more than once. 3/5
Each time I finish watching Apocalypse Now like the other day it climbs my list inch by inch.
Fires on the Plain, Les Carabiniers, and Starship Troopers. Redacted isn’t preaching, it’s showing. Oh yeah, To be or Not To Be is funny as hell.
WOODEN CROSSES. You guys can still watch it at http://www.theauteurs.com/criterion for free until they put up a new festival. Such a fantastic film, unbelievable that it came out of 1932. Raymond Bernard was subverting conventions of the war film genre years before they had even been fully established. Remarkable, and criminally underseen. Check it out while you still can.
I would venture a guess that Noel knows when he is being preached to. WOODEN CROSSES was released in 1932? Now you have my curiousity. Was it a movie about WWI? There are so few.
It is indeed. All the readings I’ve found on it cite it as a “forgotten masterpiece” from Bernard, a director who apparently received wide acclaim during his time but has been historically overlooked.
Das Boot yes!
How about…. Gunga Din. by George Stevens.
a couple of Brit classics…. The Way to the Stars … it had a different US title (Johnny in the clouds .. I think)
The Dambusters….. great in it’s day.
and I used to love Errol Flynn in Dawn Patrol.
Especially when Noel hasn’t seen the film.