World War II Movies
From "Schindler's List" to the summer blockbuster "Pearl Harbor"
by Beth Rowen
Stalag 17 (1953)
Stalag 17 One of the most realistic depictions of a P.O.W. camp. William Holden won a Best Actor Oscar for his turn as a conniving yet enterprising sergeant who's accused of being a Nazi spy. The prisoners try to overcome boredom by playing practical jokes on the unsuspecting guards and planning their escape from the camp, which is run with an iron fist by Otto Preminger's vicious commandant. Director Billy Wilder adapted the film from the Broadway play with his characteristic mordant wit.
Director Mike Nichols delivers one of the most surreal and biting military satires in film history with this faithful adaptation of Joseph Heller's classic novel. Catch-22, a stylish, nuanced look at the insanity of war, is driven by trenchant dialogue and unabashed sarcasm. The heavy-handed symbolism threatens to undermine the narrative, however. The film was overshadowed at the box office by M*A*S*H, but it's worth a look on video.
Ok, it's not a war movie per se, but set against the backdrop of WWII, the classic certainly merits inclusion. Considered by many to be one of Hollywood's top five films, Casablanca immortalized Bogart, Bergman, and "As Time Goes By." This suspenseful saga of a nightclub owner, his old flame, and her underground-leader husband is required watching for every film fan.
The Longest Day (1962)
A big-budget, intricate epic, the film required the services of four directors and five writers. It re-enacts the bloody battles from both sides.
Long before Saving Private Ryan brought D-Day to life on the big screen, The Longest Day was the seminal film about the Allied invasion at Normandy. A big-budget, intricate epic, the film required the services of four directors and five writers. It re-enacts the bloody battles from both sides. Check out the all-star cast: John Wayne, Rod Steiger, Peter Lawford, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Sal Mineo, Eddie Albert, Red Buttons.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Japanese and American directors collaborated to craft this authentic look at the days preceding the attack on Pearl Harbor. The scenes filmed by the Japanese are noticeably more finessed.
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