We found this little story on the website for a Utah-based news station: It’s a list of the five supposed ‘best’ World War Two films ever made. While the author, Cody Carlson, rightly includes Patton (1970) and A Bridge Too Far (1977), (in our humble opinion) he misses a few classics of the genre. A ‘complete’ list of must-see World War Two movies would have to include the following titles (in no particular order):
The Cruel Sea (1953)
Based on the book by Nicolas Monsarrat, The Cruel Sea is the quintessential movie about the Battle of the Atlantic. Jack Hawkins plays the skipper of a British Flower-class Corvette, HMS Compass Rose, that puts to sea in 1939 with a crew of novice sailors and amateur officers all of whom must learn about battling German U-boats the hard way – in the heat of battle.
Bridge on the River Kwai (1959)
I never get sick of this one. When the commandant of a Japanese POW camp orders Allied prisoners to build a bridge across the River Kwai, the ranking English officer in the camp, Col. Nicholson (played by Alec Guinness), seizes upon the project as means to prove to his captors the superiority of the British soldier. Nicholson’s plan works a little too well unfortunately and the results are ruinous.
Guns of Naverone (1961)
Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn star in this film about a squad of British commandos that are thrown onto the fictional Greek island of Naverone to destroy a pair of enormous German radar controlled guns that are built into an impregnable cliff top cave. Peck plays Malory, a reluctant member of the team who suddenly finds himself in command after an accident. The group must pull together to overcome one set back after another. A true classic.
At least two other movies have attempted to tell the story of the final days of Adolf Hitler. While both Hitler: The Last Ten Days and The Bunker are certainly worth watching, this German-made version of the story is by far the best among them. Told though the eyes of Traudl Junge, Hitler’s 22-year-old private secretary, the movie charts the final days of the Fuhrer as his Nazi regime literally comes crashing down around him. Downfall is an emotionally exhausting and chilling look at the hopelessness of the last hours of the Third Reich.
A Midnight Clear (1991)
Chances are you’ve missed this little low budget gem of a movie, but if you can get your hands on a copy, by all means do so. It’s the story of a small squad of GIs that are ordered to set up a listening post in an abandoned Belgian estate on the eve of the Nazi Ardennes Offensive of late 1944. Once dug in, the young soldiers find themselves improvising an unexpected Christmas truce with a group of war weary Germans. An ensemble cast, made up of then unknowns like Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise and Frank Whaley, deftly brings this tremendous story to life.
What films would you add and why do they deserve to be on the list? Have your say below.