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Old 12-07-2017, 02:20 AM   #1
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Default Favorite War Movies Anyone?

I cant get enough of the older films from the 1950s, 1960s and 70s - the era produced some of the best war films in cinematic history. And why wouldn't those be the finest decades for war action drama? you've got butt kicking men's men like Lee Marvin, john Casavetes, Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas and Steve McQueen just to name a few. When i was growing up throughout the 80's these movies were already pushing 20-30 years old, and i can remember a number of Saturday or Sunday afternoons with nothing much to do and these movies would come on TV captivating my attention countless times. Today as Hollywood focuses more attention on some sort of political message you're just not going to see a lot of these current metro-sexual actors playing roles that remotely approach filling the shoes of those from the past and short of a few recent films the story line tends to be lacking these days. So here's a list i made of some films that come to mind as ones i have enjoyed, good and bad. (SPOILERS) Feel free to add your own...

1. MORITURI (1965) - I saw this film for the first time in my life just a few years ago, and i dont know where in the hell it had been hiding out because as big a fan as i am of 60's and 70s war flicks, I'd never heard of this one. Probably because it was so poorly marketed at the time it was released which also lent to its failure at the box office. when deciding what movies to see in '65 a lot of guys didnt know what Morituri meant, and decided to skip it. In this film, legendary Marlon Brando plays the role of a German Demolitions expert who defected from Germany when the Nazis seized power and managed to do so with his finances intact. He moved to India where he lived comfortably in hiding until one day he was discovered by British intelligence. Viewing him as expendable yet possessing skills they needed they blackmail him into boarding a merchant ship disguised as an SS officer with a simple mission: disable the scuttling charges so the allies can ambush the vessel in the open pacific taking the ship and capture it's precious and rare cargo without the fear of the ship being scuttled by it's crew. The tension builds very nicely in this flick as Brando clashes with the merchant ship's commander played by Yul Brynner all the while Brando plays his role as an SS agent cooly and often thinking on his feet, but sneaking around the ship trying to locate and disable the charges without discovery sometimes with crew members right around the corner. So many twists and unexpected plot turns occur that it seems the mission is doomed to fail. ultimately the plot is discovered and the ship disabled and abandoned by the crew. Yul Brynner and Marlon Brando stay with the ship, in the last scene the two are seen on the foredeck of the badly listing ship. With the ship in ruins, their rivalry is pointless and they begin to converse about the disillusion that Yul Brynner feels as he is torn by his sense of patriotism for Germany and his growing disappointment with the Nazi leadership. Brando asks for Brynner to fire off a message to the allies directing them to the ships location so he can complete his mission and be rescued by the American and British forces. Brynner walks away in disgust at his situation without responding to Brando's request. the credits begin to roll to the sound of Morse code as the ship is seen floating in a vast sea. That's one thing i like about this film, you dont know what the message says or who it was sent for. it leaves you to make up your own mind and a lot of movies these days do the thinking for you which drives me insane.

2. AMBUSH BAY (1966) - if ever you wanted to make a film that made special forces guys look like a bunch of holier than thou ass hats, you would have written ambush bay. This film tells the story of the final mission of what is arguably the worst special recon detachment in USMC history. Their mission is to link up with an agent in the Philippines who has crucial intelligence which could affect the outcome of Macarthur's looming invasion. The film starts off by introducing each member of the team and detailing their special abilities in narrator voice over style. The radio operator played by James Mitchum (Robert Mitchum's son but probably really his clone) joined the troop at the last minute due to the "real" radio guy being sick. The movie is less about sneaking through the jungle and killing Japanese soldiers - which these guys suck at - and more about treating this young radio operator like absolute crap. The entire team just belittles and chides this radio man relentlessly. Give the kid a break, he is an air force radio operator and has been in the PTO for a few months... you guys were killing Japanese when this kid was nervous about kissing girls. All the poor guy wants is to know what the mission is and all the team does is ridicule him and make him feel stupid. An entire scene focuses on the team teasing him about scented foot powder. Finally after the leader of the team says Mitchum cant know the mission and thats final, Mickey Rooney, a full foot shorter than the rest of the marines just walks up and tells the whole mission to the kid with his commander standing right there... and nobody cares that he just went over his CO's head. what? besides that half the recon team is killed in the first 20 minutes of the film. AMBUSH BAY contains perhaps one of the most ridiculous scenes ever written into a war film: Wounded Micky Rooney stays behind as the Japanese pursue the team. he sabotages his body with explosives and when the Japanese stumble upon him they are too far away to blow up. oops... So what does lil Micky Rooney do? with all the logic of an 8 year old playing army in the back yard he says; "Hey guys... come a little closer." what happens next is implausible even in 60's Hollywood - in reality the response would have been a Japanese Lieutenant's ordering his men to execute Rooney where he lay near death. yet Rooney lures a whole Japanese squad so close that a 90 year old man with a UTI could have peed on him - just by asking nicely for them to come closer. The entire Japanese squad slowly leans in on Rooney as if he is about to whisper some kind of secret, and... he activates the explosives killing them all and himself in the process. What? no wonder we won that war. apparently all we had to do is find the shortest, least threatening guys, strap explosives to them and sit them in the Jungle beckoning Japanese patrols to "please come over here". You almost expect the special forces troop to start shouting "i got you you're dead!" mid firefight to which the Japanese respond "No! you missed you missed!" additional runner ups for most ridiculous scenes in war movie history come later in the film. not only do the remaining two marines casually trot into the Japanese naval base they are sent to sabotage - in broad daylight - while the Japanese are distracted fighting a fire, but after the sabotage is completed under heavy machine gun fire, the last remaining man is next seen causally walking down a beach to an extraction point? How the hell did he escape? what happened? We went from under attack in the base, to a stroll on the beach? why are there so many plot holes? you really can't pick this one apart, the budget was so low the marine recon team was outfitted by the costume department with duck hunting suits simply based on no other merit than that they kinda looked like WW2 marine camouflage - no kidding. ... its fun to sit and tease this flick.

3. THE BLUE MAX (1966) - This film focuses on Bruno Stachel (played by George Peppard of A-team fame) a German soldier fighting in the trenches of world war I who decides crawling around in the muck of no-mans-land kinda sucks so he decides to be a fighter pilot. He completes pilot training and joins a fighter wing with the goal of winning a medal called the blue max for which the film is named. coming from such humble beginnings he immediately has to prove himself to the rest of the aristocratic aviators. Bruno is fast on his way to achieving his lofty goal when he becomes acquainted with a field marshal who wants to use his story as an inspiring bit of propaganda for the people back home as well as the front line troops. Gaining popularity Peppard's character wins the coveted blue max medal and beds down Ursula Andress (I love it when a plan comes together!). Unfortunately for Peppard, Andress was the field marshal's main squeeze and this understandably pisses him off. The film concludes with the Field Marshal encouraging Bruno to test fly a revolutionary new monoplane in a demonstration. After the field marshall is warned that the airplane is not ready for the structural stress of combat maneuvers and the pilot should conduct a simple demonstration flight, the field marshal encourages Bruno "Show us some *real* flying up there today." Bruno puts the plane through its paces by looping and rolling and conducting twisting tight turns which causes the airplane to fall apart mid flight killing Bruno Stachel and ending the film. The great thing about the film is the rivalry that Bruno has with his fellow pilots, his constant feeling of needing to prove himself worthy and his chasing after glory proves to be his white whale... aside from that the flying sequences are all completed by real airplanes and skilled stunt pilots, they are tangible things that are real... not this CGI we have today and you just dont get that in movies anymore, everything feels so fake.

4. BATTLE OF BRITAIN (1969) - Many movies have tried to tell the story of the events of the battle of Britain, things that went wrong, tactical errors and successes, how so few allied pilots were able to fight off the unstoppable hoard of German fighters and bombers, but no movie does it more flawlessly, perfectly and completely as BATTLE OF BRITAIN does. There are too many big UK actors in this one to really mention them all, but the thing that really sets battle of Britain apart is the flying scenes. almost all of the film's budget went into finding, obtaining, and restoring to flying condition authentic world war two era aircraft. Though some camera trickery was involved in replicating the same aircraft numerous times in the same shot to simulate mass formations of German Bombers - many - in fact nearly ALL of the airplanes conducting massive on camera battles were real planes flown by incredibly skilled stunt pilots in massive choreographed dogfights. It has been stated by numerous sources, that this film used so many aircraft it was equivalent to the 35th largest air force in the world in 1969. There is not a single production company in operation today that could do this without going broke long before anything hit screen, let alone before a trailer could even be made for the film. and Battle of Britain would go down as one of the very last films to use such large numbers of real airplanes. The film really gives you a sense of British desperation. The battle of Britain took place as a German preparation to operation seelowe - the two pronged German invasion of England. 1940 saw the British dangerously close to losing WW2 pretty early in the fight. The German plan consisted of a landing on the British east coast using troops staging from Norway, and a second landing from northern France landing in the southern end of England. The goal of the two prong attack was not only to divide British defense forces but to encircle London and establish a massive foothold on southeastern England. With the U-boat war in full swing starving England of supplies, the Germans could have succeeded, the only thing stopping them was dominance of the airspace over England. Their plan was devilishly simple attack British airfields and fuel centers and leave the Royal air force stranded on the ground. If successful, the Wehrmacht's battle hardened soldiers could have overtaken southern England within a matter of several weeks fighting. The British strategy was equally simple, fight them off to the last man and buy time to prepare for invasion. The big break came during a night attack when a German bomber accidentally bombed a civilian housing district which kicked off a back and forth of bombing civilian targets. This caused the German's to refocus their attacks on terror tactics and civilian bombing and allowed the RAF to gain strength. In the end the German air force suffered heavy losses, failed their objective and the invasion of England was cancelled. BATTLE OF BRITIAN demonstrates the desperation and confusion of the battle perfectly and there will probably never be a film that uses real aircraft to the same scale.

5. 12 O'CLOCK HIGH - (1949) this film wasnt made in the 60-70s obviously but deserves honorable mention. Upon America's entry into World War Two, American bombers took up residence in airfields throughout England. The plan for crushing the Nazi war machine focused on round the clock bombing missions and the only way to do this was to send bombers over heavily defended targets all day and night. The problem with this is that the British had more or less abandoned daylight bombing because of the high losses and dismissed it as impractical. American Generals, supposedly after several pints of bitters, threw caution to the wind and agreed to the suicide mission that daylight bombing raids represented in world war 2, not only that but each man agreed to a tour of duty of 25 such suicide missions. Apparently nobody informed them that you really only get just the one suicide mission. 12 O'CLOCK HIGH has one of the most curious introductions of a world war two films i have seen. A man named Harvey Stovall who is visiting London years after the war is walking down the street when in the shop window he sees something familiar... a one of a kind Robin Hood Toby mug sitting in the window. he buys the junky little mug for next to nothing and insists that the shopkeeper wrap it as a rare and valuable collectible. He then boards a train and rides out to the country side wandering into a cattle field looking around deep in thought. as the camera pans out it is revealed that he is standing on the long abandoned ruins of archbury army airfield used during world war two. He becomes lost in his memories of his time spent there as an officer in the US Army Air Force. he recalls the difficulties his unit faced, and how the introduction of a bold new commander played by Gregory Peck really turned the unit's morale around and made them into one of the most successful bomber groups of the war. During the film we see the Robin hood Toby mug on the mantle of the officer's club fireplace with its face turned toward the wall... on the eve of each new mission, Harvey Stovall walks into the crowded officers club and turns the mug so that its face gazes upon the men causing the officers mess to often fall silent. The missions continue with Gregory Peck's character leading each trip over enemy territory until the squadron is ready to go it on their own often downplaying the stresses of combat until one day he falls nearly catatonic with combat fatigue causing a relief pilot to fly in his place. he remains in this state until the bombers return from a successful mission... the men he has worked so hard to train have achieved success without him. Relieved that they are successful he collapses into his bed exhausted. Pilots back then were a different breed... there wasnt any CGI in 1949 so if you wanted to crash a plane in a movie you had two options. 1) use footage of real plane crashes where guys died in real combat or 2) load up, take off, turn on the cameras and crash a plane on purpose just hard enough that you might live. 12 O'CLOCK HIGH does both. Paul Mantz who is probably the most famous... no.. THE most famous test pilot hollywood ever knew conducted a crash landing of a fully operational B-17 bomber just because the script says so. Later that day a sample of his sweat was taken and later marketed as old spice. Honestly speaking... USAAF crew who viewed the film said that over the years it has remained the most accurate account of what life was like for them during world war two, and the film is often shown at the United States Air Force Academy tho showcase and highlight elements of leadership. Since the first time i saw this film... i have always wanted one of those Robin Hood Toby Mugs (which i now have a replica, the real mug used in filming was apparently stolen and never seen again) 12 O'CLOCK HIGH remains one of my all time favorite movies.
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:50 AM   #2
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I have fond memories of dark winter afternoons by the fire as a kid, watching movies like Von Ryan's Express and The Train ("I sink I saw somesing") with Mum & Dad... and I loved thick-ear stuff like Garrison's Guerillas, so I enjoyed the Dirty Dozen series too, even though they were nonsense.

Now whenever we go to visit my in-laws they always seem to be sat watching a 50s Western or a war film, and the last time we went they were watching "Counterfeit Commandos" (apparently the inspiration behind "Inglorious Bastuerds"). I'd never seen this... an Italian movie I think... it was daft yet hugely enjoyable in that nostalgic way: although it was made quite late on it still has that same almost madcap quality. Here's a link:

And I also remember Mickey Rooney luring those Japanese soldiers to their fate in that movie you described; I guess you just have to consider that it was of its time too, and the audience (and maybe the film-makers) weren't as hard-bitten as they are now. After all, we wouldn't put up with fake Tiger tanks and dodgy armoued cars these days either, the way we did we did back then.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:20 AM   #3
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:29 AM   #4
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I won't hog the 'favourites' list, except to also mention "Anzio" and "Operation Crossbow"
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:45 AM   #5
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All those you mentioned above John but a great many others also.

Without taking up too much thought I'd add two naval classics, Sink the Bismarck and Battle of the River Plate.

Nobody mentioned John Wayne or Audie Murphy yet?
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:10 PM   #6
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Tora! Tora! Tora!

The Longest Day

Battle Of Britain


Wings (1927 -winner of the very first Best Picture Oscar)

Das Boot

From the '60s? The Train

Concerning The Blue Max. I still love the film, but long ago I read the book, which has a far different, and to my mind much more interesting ending. This last year I read the two sequels, The Blood Order and The Tin Cravat. Fun reading all.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:56 PM   #7
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Some years ago a friend of mine asked me which War movie was my favorite

I replied with-In which category ?

I know when it comes to war movies there ain't no category, it's something I have developed by myself

War movie related to the sea

1. Das Boot
2. Battle of midway
3. Sink the Bismarck
4. Tora Tora Tora

War movies related to the air

1 Battle of Britain

War movie related to land

1. D-day
2. A bridge too far

humorous war movie

1. Kelly's Heroes

And a lot more.

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Old 12-07-2017, 05:07 PM   #8
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A lot of great old movies mentioned.
In addition to those mentioned:

The Enemy Below
To Hell and Back
The Longest Day

Going new movies:
Hacksaw Ridge

Although technically not movies, I'm adding them anyway
Band of Brothers
The Pacific

Dirty Dozen
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:16 PM   #9
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"Captain Horatio Hornblower" 1951 with Gregory Peck in the lead role.

What a fine actor he was.

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Old 12-07-2017, 05:19 PM   #10
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Lots of good movies listed like Das Boot and the Enemy Below. I would add Run Silent, Run Deep, U-571, Torpedo alley, We Dive at Dawn, Torpedo Run, The Bridge at Ramagen and A Bridge too far.
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:42 PM   #11
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Full Metal Jacket

The Hill

Stalingrad (though on youtube I hear actors speak German then translation in Russian with English subtitles )

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Old 12-07-2017, 09:01 PM   #12
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:42 PM   #13
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My top ten in alphabetical order:

Apocalypse Now (1979)
The Big Red One (1980)
Casablanca (1942)
Fury (2014)
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
The Wall (2017)
Patton (1970)
Tears of the Sun (2003)
Windtalkers (2002)
We Were Soldiers (2002)
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:44 AM   #14
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There's no favorite, but I want to mention Saving Private Ryan for the following reason.

That movie was a revolution.

Never before did a movie portray infantry combat in such a realistic and gritty way, without being unbelievable/over the top or flat out corny.
While many of the infantry tactics in the movie on the German side are flat out ridiculous to non-existent, this movie still works and I will never forget the scene during the landing when the first landing craft's hatch came down and a single MG42 just wiped out half the men inside. My jaw dropped and I felt that this is probably the most authentic depiction of warfare ever to be put on film. Compare this with the laughable shooting paratroopers of The Longest Day in the St. Mere-Eglise scene for example, it's almost a parody.

The old movies do not really work for me regarding combat. It all looks fake as hell, they used to die in a overly dramatic fashion (you know, the "I-hold-my-chest-and-sink-to-my-knees-dying-101") and also the costumes and gear used were, mostly, laughable - for very understandable reasons, but that won't help the final product.

SPR changed it all.
It put you right there like nothing else before and nothing else since then, except of course Band of Brothers and later The Pacific, which had more or less the same guys behind them, so that's why.

I guess if I would have to pick, SPR would be it indeed, at least for infantry combat stuff. Naval would be Das Boot followed by Tora! Tora! Tora!, which is so incredible on so many levels.
Heck, they even build a Nagato battleship prop!

Honorable mention goes to Stalingrad (1993).
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Old 12-08-2017, 10:20 AM   #15
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