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NBooth

World War II Movies

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So I'm in the process of specializing. Academically, I mean. And that process has brought me to the [frankly, bizarre to anyone who knows me] point of concentrating on World War II-era popular/culture. And that means that I'm feeling the sudden need to check out movies of a type that, generally, I find pretty boring: I mean military/combat movies. I'm in the process of compiling a list right now, but I thought I'd ask you guys and see if I've missed--or should miss--anything.

 

Here's what I've got, in no particular order:

 

The Longest Day

The Thin Red Line

Sands of Iwo Jima 

The Flying Tigers

Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima

The Naked and the Dead

Catch-22

12 O'Clock High

John Rabe [not quite military/combat]

Back to 1942 [same as above]

Flowers of War [ditto]

Mr. Roberts

The Bridge over the River Kwai

My Way [Je-kyu Kang, 2011]

Inglorious Basterds

 

On the back end of the War, I've already picked up The Best Years of Our Lives.

 

Also, there's of course Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

 

Notes:

1. I've seen The Longest Day and Sands multiple times, primarily because my brother used to watch them nonstop. My own distaste for the genre can probably be traced directly to my hatred of Stryker in Sands.

 

2. Obviously, ease-of-discovery isn't high on my priorities-list; The Naked and the Dead has not, as far as I know, found its way to DVD.

 

3. I find myself primarily interested in the Pacific theater, but [of course] items in any area are welcome.

 

4. Yeah, I purposefully left off Monuments Men. It's neither good enough to include on its own merits or historic enough to include on other counts [in this sense, nearly every propaganda-piece from WWII would merit being on the list, but there's only so much John Wayne one can stand. Hence, the absence of The Fighting Seabees]

 

5. I'm an Americanist, but other perspectives are welcome. Great WWII flicks about Canadian forces? Chinese? [For what I assume to be political as well as historical reasons, most Chinese movies about WWII tend to focus on outsiders fighting the Imperial Japanese, rather than on military activities] Japanese? [i note that Film Business Asia gives The Eternal 0 a fairly good review]

 

5. Full confession: yes, this is partly prompted by my reading of The Good War's Greatest Hits.

 

Thoughts? What WWII movies are absolute must-sees? Or mustn't-sees? 

Edited by NBooth

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NBooth wrote:
: Great WWII flicks about Canadian forces?

 

Forces, I don't know, but you really must see 49th Parallel. It's a British propaganda film in which a Nazi U-boat gets sunk in Hudson Bay, and the survivors trek across Canada, hoping to get to safety in America, which at that point was still neutral. One of the purposes of the film was to goad the Americans into joining the war effort, by showing them how the Nazis could be a threat. (I believe the film was called The Invaders when it was released in the U.S., presumably because most Americans wouldn't have even known what the 49th parallel *is*. It's interesting, too, how a significant chunk of the movie takes place in Quebec, where the border is *not* defined by the latitude.) It stars Laurence Olivier as a Quebecois fur trapper, Leslie Howard as a hiker in the Rockies, Glynis Johns (pre-The Court Jester, pre-Mary Poppins) as a Hutterite teenager, and more. (Yes, these Nazis do not exactly take the most *direct* route to America that they could have taken.)

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The Train

From Here to Eternity

1941 (guilty pleasure, with the best patriotic score).

Bon Voyage

It's A Wonderful Life

Since You Went Away

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Peter's mention of The 49th Parallel reminded me of a couple of other Powell/Pressburger flicks, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Stairway to Heaven.

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So I'm in the process of specializing. Academically, I mean. And that process has brought me to the [frankly, bizarre to anyone who knows me] point of concentrating on World War II-era popular/culture. And that means that I'm feeling the sudden need to check out movies of a type that, generally, I find pretty boring: I mean military/combat movies. I'm in the process of compiling a list right now, but I thought I'd ask you guys and see if I've missed--or should miss--anything.

 

Question for clarification: popular culture about WW2 era for from WW2 era?

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5. I'm an Americanist, but other perspectives are welcome. Great WWII flicks about Canadian forces? Chinese? [For what I assume to be political as well as historical reasons, most Chinese movies about WWII tend to focus on outsiders fighting the Imperial Japanese, rather than on military activities] Japanese? [i note that Film Business Asia gives The Eternal 0 a fairly good review]

 

Interesting Canadian 1 actor play, Jake's Gift. Perhaps Ron Reed could tell you if it's on youtube or anything.

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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone; some of these I remember--others I haven't heard of.

 

 

 

So I'm in the process of specializing. Academically, I mean. And that process has brought me to the [frankly, bizarre to anyone who knows me] point of concentrating on World War II-era popular/culture. And that means that I'm feeling the sudden need to check out movies of a type that, generally, I find pretty boring: I mean military/combat movies. I'm in the process of compiling a list right now, but I thought I'd ask you guys and see if I've missed--or should miss--anything.

 

Question for clarification: popular culture about WW2 era for from WW2 era?

 

 

Well, I'm working with popular culture from the era, but there's quite a bit of bleed-over between, say, WWII-era military flicks and Cold War-era WWII flicks. As Beidler points out in Greatest Hits, many of the novels that came out of the War were in some ways imagined as movies (The Naked and the Dead certainly is--the scene with the captured Japanese soldier is described in very cinematic terms), before actually becoming movies.  My broader interest is in the ways America imagined itself during the War, and secondarily how the War became a defining lens for self-imagining after its conclusion. 


 


5. I'm an Americanist, but other perspectives are welcome. Great WWII flicks about Canadian forces? Chinese? [For what I assume to be political as well as historical reasons, most Chinese movies about WWII tend to focus on outsiders fighting the Imperial Japanese, rather than on military activities] Japanese? [i note that Film Business Asia gives The Eternal 0 a fairly good review]

 

Interesting Canadian 1 actor play, Jake's Gift. Perhaps Ron Reed could tell you if it's on youtube or anything.

 

 

I've definitely not heard of that one. This is the one you mean [trailer]?

 

Edited by NBooth

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A couple of Australian flicks that might be worth looking at are Kokoda (2006) which is about a group of volunteer irregulars surviving in New Guinea, and then there's 1981's Attack Force Z, which is pretty much a typical elite squad on a mission story, but has some early performances from Mel Gibson and Sam Neil.

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Capra's WW2 "Why We Fight" docs.

 

See also recent book by Mark Harris, Five Came Back. The WW2 propaganda (not meant in a bad sense) by Capra, Ford, Wyler, Huston, and Stevens.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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