World War II Movies, Part 3
From "Schindler's List" to the summer blockbuster "Pearl Harbor"
by Beth Rowen
Das Boot (1981)
Perhaps the best--and most realistic--submarine film ever made, Das Boot chronicles a German U-Boat mission, flawlessly capturing the ennui and conflicting emotions faced by the crew as it pursues and evades the enemy Allies. A film set entirely on a sub and nearly three hours long should feel claustrophobic and cramped, yet brisk pacing, nail-biting suspense, and kinetic cinematography keep things moving at a steady clip. Das Boot, originally a six-hour German miniseries, was re-released in 1997 with an additional hour of footage seamlessly edited into the narrative.
The Desert Fox (1951)
A thoughtful biopic of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (James Mason) that follows his retreat from North Africa and his growing disillusionment with Hitler. A brilliant and practical tactician, Rommel defies Hitler and withdraws from Africa. Upon returning to Berlin, Rommel takes part in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer and pays the price with his life.
...epic blockbuster about a group of Allied P.O.W.s who join forces to mastermind a mass escape from a Nazi prison camp built to be impassable.
The Great Escape (1963)
Director John Sturges remained faithful to the events chronicled in the book, by Paul Brickhall. Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, and James Coburn lead the all-star cast in this fast-paced, epic blockbuster about a group of Allied P.O.W.s who join forces to mastermind a mass escape from a Nazi prison camp built to be impassable. Fabulous score by Elmer Bernstein.
Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)
Another great tension-filled sub film. Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster clash as the commander and executive officer of the USS Nerka. Gable's "Rich" Richardson takes command of the Nerka after the Japanese sink his previous sub. His obsession with seeking revenge irritates his crew, and Lancaster's lieutenant thinks he should be the one in charge.
Mr. Roberts (1955)
A hilarious, character-driven look at a group of noncombatants eager for some excitement, both in battle and on the sidelines. Henry Fonda reprised his wildly successful Broadway role as chief cargo officer of the Reluctant whose efforts to see combat are thwarted by his petulant captain (James Cagney). Jack Lemmon won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the crafty Ensign Frank Pulver who tries to lighten things up on the ship by luring nurses onboard and tormenting the captain.