Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 52

War! Hooah! What's it good for?! Well, it does make for good films.

What is your favorite war film?



Panelist: ScottDS

This is a tough one but I would have to say Apocalypse Now which, of course, is so much more than a war film. I first saw it a long time ago and years passed before I bought the DVD. Watching it again, I had forgotten just how insane the film is, and I mean that in the best way possible. The plot itself is rather straightforward - X goes to Y to kill Z - but the way in which the plot unfolds (in other words, the story) is what makes the film unforgettable along with the hellish tales of its production. I'm not good with serious film/literary criticism so I will leave it to others to chime in with their opinions on the film's various metaphors and messages. "Terminate with extreme prejudice."

Panelist: AndrewPrice

There are many excellent war films and probably a dozen or so which could easily claim the top spot. But I'm going to pick The Great Escape. Not only was this a fascinating film with great writing and a tremendous collection of great actors, but it didn't insult the audience's attention by making the Germans halfwits, by downplaying the dangers to the prisoners, or by turning the whole thing into a video game. This is an excellent dramatic film.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

Okay, you know what I’m going to say, but it’s awfully nice of you to ask. Gone With The Wind. It is primarily a romance, but the war is seen as it relates to the women at home who must carry on while the men are fighting the war.

Panelist: T-Rav

After some soul-searching, I went with Black Hawk Down, not just because I haven’t seen some of the older stuff such as The Longest Day, but because there have been precious few movies in the post-Vietnam era which really try to present members of the military as unambiguous good guys. The soldiers here are family men, average Joes, and yet heroes at every point when under fire. It’s an extremely realistic, straightforward portrayal of battle, with great performances by the cast (especially Josh Hartnett and Eric Bana), and decidedly anti-nihilist in its message. For all that, I think it will stand the test of time as one of the best in the genre.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Probably Gettysburg, but I do love Run Silent Run Deep Classic cat and mouse game. If we go mini-series, it doesn't get any better than Band of Brothers. My reasons for Gettysburg are probably laid out in that review I did awhile back :)

Comments? Thoughts?

142 comments:

shawn said...

Patton. George C. Scott chewing scenery like nobody's business, great battle scenes, and absolutely no mincing "Oh golly, are we doing the right thing?"

And I agree with Tennessee Jed that Band of Brothers is the best war mini-series out there.

shawn said...

My runner-up would be Stalag 13.

shawn said...

Doh! That should read Stalag 17. Stalag 13 was Hogan's Heroes. And that was a good war series.

K said...

Twelve O'Clock High is numero uno in my book.

Breaker Morant comes in second.

Bridges at Toko Ri comes in third.

I loved Patton as well, but I take away points for using the wrong equipment. The movie uses American M48 Patton tanks to simulate German Mk4 panzers in North Africa and M-47s to simulate Shermans. That tends to grate.





Joel Farnham said...

Mister Roberts, first, Operation Petticoat second, and third Wackiest Ship in the Army.

Now, you might be wondering why I picked those. Well, in my experience, they are closer to reality than anything else out there. The boredom, the ludicrous, and then finally the incompetent which starts out as the least likely to complete the mission does so with the greatest exposure to personal danger.

All have great comedic stories and all are unabashedly pro-american.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - A.N. is an extremely interesting film. It didn't stay particularly true to the short story on which it was based (Heart of Darkness by Josef Conrad.) Still, it had some incredible lines and acting (Robert Duval stands out) plus some minor roles by a very young Harrison Ford and Laurence Fishbourne. It is a wacky film, not unlike the war and time period in which it took place.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - The great escape was one of those films that had everybody talking about it after having seen it. It was an instant classic. McQueen and Eastwood were the two "coolest" action heroes of the time. I think it was nearly a three hour film, and yet nobody minded the length.

Tennessee Jed said...

Bev - you and my wife!! If you are female and from the south, this is THE big one, for sure. It is a great rendering of the fall of a romantic culture, and considering the fact it was made in the late 30's, it still stands up pretty darned well.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - Black Hawk Down is a terrific adaption of one of the best books about modern warfare ever written. I recently picked up the Blu-Ray, and was stunned by how good it was.

Tennessee Jed said...

Jed - great choice. I can still hear the artillery duel in my head. Despite Pickett's charge being the climax of the movie, the depiction of the defense of Little Round Top is still my favorite. It was emotionally exhausting, and gives the viewer a real sense of what it must have been like.

Tennessee Jed said...

Shawn - Hard not to like Patton. Got to love Scott and Karl Malden for that matter.

"K" don't remember if you got to see my review of 12 O'clock High or not, but I agree it is a classic and a wonderful profile of the staggering emotional toll of command under stress. Also see Andrew's review of the "Breaker." Edward Woodward is tops in my book :)

Tennessee Jed said...

Joel - interesting, if unlikely choices, but your reasoning fascinates! Truly a different drummer.

Outlaw13 said...

Fort Apache, the John Wayne version. A commander who won't listen to his subordinates who had been there before. The Soldiers who do their duty even though they know they're doomed and the speech at the end where the survivors who know the real truth go along with the press because they know it's for the greater good. It's a lot deeper movie than a lot of people might expect.

Pork Chop Hill. A Korean war movie with Gregory Peck. Adapted from a true story about a Korean War battle, really well done.

Gardens of Stone. A Vietnam film, not set in Vietnam but with Soldiers in the "Old Guard" at Arlington National Cemetery. James Earl Jones and James Caan and DB Sweeney as the idealistic private. I can't recommend this film enough.

We Were Soldiers is pretty well done as well. There are parts that were "hollywood" but for the most part stayed true to the real story.

I would agree with previous mentions Patton, Black Hawk Down, Breaker Morant and 12 O' Clock High. Band of Brothers is the gold standard of which other war features should be judged.

Unfortunately even a 'good" movie about my war has yet to be made...I guess we'll see if they ever do.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - wow, every one of those you mention is a gem. I particularly like your mention of Gardens of Stone since it is o-watch Pork Chop Hill about a year ago, and it was a real treat. Greg Peck keeps moving upward in my actor "respectometer!" :)

I also agree with you about "We were soldiers." It was extremely well done. The only thing I found too over the top was having Colonel Moore (Mel) lead the counter charge, but that is a small nit.

As far as Fort Apache, thanks for reminding me that the western can be (and often is) a military film.

Tennessee Jed said...

some of my words from the first paragraph apparently didn't take. I was trying to write that Gardens is under appreciated, and that I had the good fortune to see Pork Chop Hill again about a year ago.

ScottDS said...

Great choices, everyone!

And TN Jed, you're correct: The Great Escape is three hours long but nobody seems to mind. In fact, it might be the shortest 3-hour film I've ever seen. :-) I even convinced my friend to show it to his WW2-loving pre-teen son and he liked it, too.

Per the rumor mill, it'll be out on Blu-Ray next year for its 50th anniversary.

And I guess I have to mention it since it's my "thing," but Elmer Bernstein's score is definitely worth owning.

AndrewPrice said...

As usual, excellent choices everyone!

On Scott's, if you're going to watch Apocalypse Now, always watch the redux!

Outlaw13 said...

TN Jed, the part in We Were Soldiers that bothers me (and I understand why most people wouldn't notice as well) if where the helicopter gunship hovers in the decimate the NVA attack and save the day. Helicopter gunships didn't hover back then, hell, they don't hover when they fire now for the most part...but I know that because I flew them. So I understand if that doesn't particularly bother anybody else. :-)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I still haven't watched the Redux version! They included both on the Blu-Ray set so I guess I don't have an excuse anymore. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Stalag 17 was an excellent film. I've enjoyed that a lot every time I've seen it.

AndrewPrice said...

K, Breaker Morant is one of my favorites as well. Great legal drama.

AndrewPrice said...

Interesting choices Joel, I wouldn't have thought of those.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Nice series of comments! LOL! I particularly like your praise for Jed's choice. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Excellent list, all top choices. I doubt we'll see a really good war movie about Iraq because of the politics of it. My guess is that Hollywood has been so burned by its efforts already (and lost so much money) that they won't be trying much more in the future. Maybe in 20 years?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It's funny that I don't think of Westerns as war films either.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Watch the redux, it's a much better version -- very different.

ScottDS said...

Andrew (and Outlaw) -

I know I've said this before but I don't think an Iraq War movie will happen anytime soon, and it's mostly the politics but not in the way you might think. (This is all just my humble opinion BTW). :-)

Take 9/11 for example. I don't believe a 9/11 movie can exist in a vacuum - you need to address the cause but once you do that, your real-life disaster movie becomes a political movie. Your NY story becomes an international story. Move over ordinary heroes, now you've got Bush and Cheney in your story. (Flight 93 might be an exception to all this.)

As for the war(s), I suppose movies based on individual incidents could be made but the entire time, you'd have this dark cloud hanging over everything and the minute someone explains why they're there, or if they should be there at all, red flags go up for everyone: left, right, and center. I'm not saying it's all too recent, but it's all too controversial.

Having said that, I still hope they adapt Thieves of Baghdad for the big screen one day. I'm pretty sure they author (a reserve colonel in the Marines) avoided politics on purpose for precisely the reasons I laid out above.

T-Rav said...

Really Bev? Really??? Please tell me you're not going to find a way to shoehorn in Gone With The Wind as your favorite science fiction film, or something.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I don't know if this is common knowledge or whatever, but I've read that a lot of Apocalypse Now came out the way it did because Marlon Brando had become so heavy by this point in life, and also couldn't be bothered to learn his lines. So Coppola deliberately put him in shadow to hide his tubbiness, and let him make up the dialogue as he went. Not much of a point there, except it's funny how the greatest movies often aren't planned that way.

BIG MO said...

NICE topic. I have several favs for each era of history, but I'll (mercifully) mention only a few that aren't from the 20th century or the Civil War:

"Last of the Mohicans" (1992 version) -- The absolute best (of a mere handful, alas) depiction of the Colonial-era wars, in this case, the French and Indian War of 1754-1763. For the most part -- with a few forgivable exceptions -- it's the best representation of combat in that era. The Oscar-winning sound was a major reason why Michael Mann got this right: When the heroes approach the under-siege Fort William Henry from the opposite shore of Lake George, we first see the flashes of the British and French cannon, and then hear the booms a second later. Same thing with the massacre later in the movie. In other words, it felt and sounded "real."

"Geronimo: An American Legend" (1993) -- Starring as the title character one of my favorite actors, Wes Studi (who also played Magua in Mohicans and is unfortunately under-used by Hollywood), "Geronimo" is a rendition of the final Apache war and capture of Geronimo in 1885-86. It is a flawed film, as it concentrates more on the men who brought in Geronimo than on the Apache himself, and couple have used about 10 more minutes of exposition. And it was a box-office failure, but has gained respect over the past 2 decades.

"Geronimo" is, to date, the best rendition of the final Apache war in the mid-1880s. "Geronimo" has accurate depictions of the Army and Apache from that era, including the treaty meetings, the governor's ball, the combat sequences, broken promises and revolting betrayal of Apache scouts loyal to the Army. It also has terrific music and cinematography, and a great cast: Wes Studi, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Matt Damon in his first movie role, and Kevin Tighe.

Note that John Ford's superb "Fort Apache" (which Outlaw13 mentions above) depicts the Apache war in the 1870s, in which the Apache were led by Cochise.

T-Rav said...

Jed, Band of Brothers is just one of the greatest. I occasionally have to take off my historian's hat, because they took artistic license with a few events, but that doesn't detract from how engrossing that series is.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

Yeah, I've heard that as well. And what you said is an understatement! Many of the greatest movies ever made, including our favorites, didn't quite turn out as planned.

Hell, I still shudder when I think of what Star Wars might've been like if Lucas had all the money and toys at his disposal that he has now, as opposed to real life where he had to deal with actual limitations, financial and otherwise.

T-Rav said...

Wait a minute. Jed, did you just compliment yourself on picking Gettysburg? You're really wanting positive feedback on that, aren't you? :-)

I've always thought some of the dialogue was kinda melodramatic and all, but I agree, the battle scenes are just phenomenal.

T-Rav said...

Oh, come on, Scott. Are you telling me the original trilogy wouldn't have been better if they could have shot all of it with a blue screen and CGI, too?! ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and Outlaw, I actually thought the miniseries Generation Kill was excellent, at least until the end when it became overtly political.

Putting that aside, I think we're unlikely to see an Iraq war film because the thinking is all wrong. People don't think of it as a "war" in the traditional sense, they think of it as a "political war." So you're not going to see a war film that touches upon politics, you're going to see a political film that involves soldiers. And that won't play well.

Joel Farnham said...

Jed and Andrew,

The reasoning is simple. The majority of people who go to war are not the combatants. Life in the military is more about boredom, ludicrous situations, and dealing with seemingly incompetent people.

If you have read the book, Band of Brothers, you would know that the man, Herbert Sobel, played by David Schwimmer, was far more important in creating and developing the toughness of the group. His problem was simply that he couldn't get into a combat mode. If he had, he would not have been removed from command.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Gone With the Wind is apparently irresistible to women. It must be magic. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Apoc Now had a tortured history and Brandon's being out of shape was definitely part of that. It changed the entire ending.

BIG MO said...

Andrew, outlaw and ScottDS -- Books that could be adapted into superb movies about Iraq and Afghanistan that would NOT be leftie anti-war or anti-American include:

"Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" by Marcus Luttrel (Afghanistan)

"House to House: A Soldier's Memoir" by Staff Sgt. David Bellavia (Iraq, 2nd battle of Fallujah in November '04)

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Speaking of historical war films, one of my favorites is Zulu... excellent film!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Star Wars would have been a total waste if Lucas could have done the things he really wanted. Look at the prequels.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm with Jed on Gettysburg, that's easily one of the best war films ever.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, The problem is that doesn't make a good film.

BIG MO said...

T-Rav and Jed -- agreed, "Gettysburg" is great, but the depiction of combat (not the story itself) in "Gods and Generals" is better. The entire sequence of the Battle of Fredericksburg is simply amazing, if a little overly dramatic. "Gettysburg" is the better movie, but the combat in "Gods and Generals" is more realistic.

EricP said...

My war-specific faves have already been taken (We Were Soldiers and Black Hawk Down), so will humbly submit ...

Taking Chance -- just another in a long list of under-appreciated Kevin Bacon roles.
The Philadelphia Experiment and The Final Countdown -- what can I say, I'm a sucker for time-travel movies, even the so-so ones (plus I'm a huge 1980s Michael Pare fan).

Honorable TV mention to V - The Final Battle mini-series -- Global war leading to (temporarily) ridding our planet of mostly scum-sucking (and gerbil-devouring) aliens + Marc Singer and Michael Ironside = oh, hell yes!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, I haven't read those, so I can't really comment on them.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, My problem with Gods and Generals was the use of CGI, which didn't work for me. Gettysburg felt incredibly real because they used real people. Gods and Generals felt cartoony to me at times.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Taking Chance was absolutely heartbreaking. It's hard not to cry watching that.

Good call on V! :)

BIG MO said...

Interesting that the majority of movies mentioned here (including mine :) are not about WWII.

Backthrow said...

This is another one of those where it's impossible for me to pick a single favorite.

For me, the upper eschelon would be THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE LONGEST DAY, SERGEANT YORK, PATTON, THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE TRAIN, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, STALAG 17, APOCALYPSE NOW, BATTLEGROUND, DECISION BEFORE DAWN, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930), THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1951), HEAVEN KNOWS MR. ALLISON, THE DAM BUSTERS, PLAY DIRTY, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, WHERE EAGLES DARE, STEEL HELMET, FIXED BAYONETS, THE DESERT FOX, THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN and THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY (both western and war film combined).

HELL IN THE PACIFIC would've made the list, as it's overall excellent, but it is hampered by a very weak "message" ending.

Recent-era favorites have been WE WERE SOLDIERS, THE GREAT RAID, RESCUE DAWN, BLACK BOOK and the BAND OF BROTHERS mini-series. I have to see BLACK HAWK DOWN again; the first time I saw it, several years ago, it was impressively staged, but all the soldiers seemed like cyphers to me, but maybe I was tired or in a bad mood at the time.

EricP said...

Andrew, I still watch V and V - The Final Battle once a year, no ifs, ands or Julie's nude-suit but(t)s. Incredibly bummed ABC canceled the new series after teasing us with Marc Singer's return (but not as Mike Donovan, at least to our knowledge??? Jane Badler back as Diana, and the Beastmaster's not back as "'gooder."?).

Re. Taking Chance, I bawled so frequently during that movie, the family pooch got worried and sat down next to me on the couch to make sure I was OK.

Tennessee Jed said...

Big Mo - from the 18th century, don't forget the battle scenes of the 7 years war from Barry Lyndon. I don't necessarily disagree with your assessment of the battle footage from G&G vs. G. To me, it was one big single film, and due to the commitment of the director (Ron Maxwell) and Ted Turner, the re-enactors did more to keep it accurate throughout than any other film I can think of.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - don't you wish you had though of endorsing your own pick? ;) And, you didn't really think I'd let an opportunity to praise Edward Woodward slip past did you??

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Taking Chance was one of the hardest movies ever to watch. I admit, I cried throughout.


I never got in the new V series because I've been avoiding the networks for a while now.

Backthrow said...

Oops, a glaring omission: ZULU

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think we all wished we had endorsed our own picks! Clearly, you're the only one of us with conviction. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Excellent list with some real gems. I love Kwai and Kelly's Heroes and most of the rest you mention. I think I watch Dirty Dozen every time it's on television.

Tennessee Jed said...

Big Mo - Lone Survivor is being made into a film with Taylor Kitch (FNL) as Marcus Luttrell. I think the reason more WWII films aren't mentioned is there are so many good ones, it's hard to pick just one. Also, a lot of our commenters are of an age that they may not be as familiar with the classic WWII films

Tennessee Jed said...

I concur about Zulu. The Battle of Rourke's Drift is one of the very very best films in the genre. I almost (and I emphasize almost) shelled out big bucks for the Marxx collectors edition model set.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, One of the best things about Zulu is the respect they have for both sides. I think it helps a war movie a lot when they don't demonize either side or make them look like fools. It makes the challenge that much greater for both, it raises the level of drama, and it gives you a sense of why people fought. Too many war films get cartoony with one side acting like Snidely Whiplash and that loses me.

EricP said...

Forgetting Rescue Dawn, Bale and Zahn's finest performances -- d'oh!!!

LawHawkRFD said...

Tora! Tora! Tora! There have been a great many fine war films done over the decades, but this is the only one I consistently watch and re-watch. Neville Brand, the much-decorated WWII veteran, pointing out the window to the disaster being created in Pearl Harbor to a formerly skeptical naval officer: "Confirmation! You wanted confirmation! There's your confirmation."

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's easily the best Pearl Harbor film.

Outlaw13 said...

I can not stand Generation Kill.

Having actually participated in the Iraq war three times, I can tell you the only politics I was concerned with was those a-holes who were telling our enemies that the war was lost and trying to give up while we were in the middle of fighting it. I am not a big fan of those who give aid and comfort to my/our enemies in a time of war. Especially when I was getting shot at every day.

I realize they probably won't make a movie about Iraq because they have been burnt several times already...but I would argue THAT is because they tried to be too political...not that it was about Iraq.

Somalia (Black Hawk Down) wasn't exactly non-political either.

I agree that House To House would be an excellent subject for film.

I would like to see To Hell and Back re-made. The first one is awesome but a modern re-telling would be something to see if done right.

BevfromNYC said...

"Really Bev? Really??? Please tell me you're not going to find a way to shoehorn in Gone With The Wind as your favorite science fiction film, or something."

Uh, T-Rav, well..., YEAH! Obviously, you do not know me...;-). But seriously, it is a war story. There's those who go to fight and those who stay home and run the country while the fighters are away. The crops still need to reaped and sowed, the livestock still needs to be tended, bread still needs to be baked, and the ships, planes, and munitions still need to be built by someone.

Another part of war - AFTER the war. "The Best Years of Our Lives" is probably the first depiction of "coming home".

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - I own the disc of "Tora3" and can have my arm twisted to screen it at the drop of a hat.

Bev - that's telling the whippersnapper.

Speaking of under the radar and Pearl Harbor, I fondly remember the '79 mini-series of From Here to Eternity with Bill (I like the feel of gold) Devane, Steve Railsback (one of my favorite all time actors) as Pruitt, and Joey Pantoliano as "Maggio." Oh and Natalie Wood.

Anonymous said...

I read today's topic and didn't even have to think about it. The Deer Hunter,hands down. It covers before,during and after with equal care,and at 182 minutes it holds my attention for the full show. The first time I watched it I don't think I blinked.Back before he lost his mind,Roger Ebert once remarked that "A bad movie can't be over fast enough,but a good movie needs to be allowed the time to develop."Cimino refused to cut his story down to 120 minutes for the studio.(The same demand that ruined the theatrical release of Leone's masterpiece Once Upon A Time In The West)I cared about all the characters in TDH,and even though I saw it years after it came out I still watched the russian roulette scene like it was in real time.The last scene,where they all sing God Bless America could have been done cynically or cheesily but Cimino handled it just right.You watch this battered group of people,who have been through a horrific ordeal,start to regroup to start to rebuild their lives. The Deer Hunter is 3rd on my personal list of the greatest films ever and it is my favorite war film.
GypsyTyger

Kristina D said...

I'm with Backthrow- love war movies and it's impossible to pick just one, to avoid just agreeing with all the ones upthread I'd say for a desert island I'd go with Patton and Battleground. But 12 O'clock High, Sergeant York, Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai, Stalag 17, Band of Brothers, Guns of Navarone-- all yes, big faves. Just to suggest some lesser known ones I like a lot, Sahara, Away All Boats, Red Ball Express, Walk in the Sun, Halls of Montezuma, The Dawn Patrol, The Eagle & the Hawk. Best Years of Our Lives must be the best "after the war" movie, Judgement at Nuremberg would fit that category too. another great subject--thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I enjoyed Generation Kill, though I took it with a grain of salt. I didn't like the politics toward the end, but I was expecting it.

You're right that Black Hawk Down was political as well. It was particularly anti-UN... though I can't blame it.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! I think you're just looking for an excuse to mention GWTW! ;)

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, I've only seen TDH twice and I haven't seen it in more than two decades, so I don't have a particularly strong opinion of the film either way. I do recall the Russian Roulette scene though.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I like Steve Railsback, but only remember him in a couple films -- the biggest being Lifeforce.

AndrewPrice said...

Kristina, All excellent choices! And you're right, this is far too broad of a topic to pick just one. But that's what makes it interesting to discuss! :)

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - Well, okay, yea...and your point is? Okay, okay, T-Rav wins. I promise not to mention GWTW for Sci-Fi even if I COULD make the case. I make no other promises. :-D

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I'd love to see you work GWTW into the sci-fi category! LOL!

T-Rav said...

I didn't watch Gods and Generals, so I can't comment on that. I didn't hear great things about it, though.

T-Rav said...

"Oh Rhett-bot, whatever shall I do? Wherever shall I go?"

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a megabyte."

Tennessee Jed said...

I think Railsback played a great Charles Manson in Helter Skelter. Later on, he played serial killer Ed Gein. Having read the book Black Hawk Down by one of the best of the true journalists, Mark Bowden, I never got the impression that either the book or the movie tried to be political. It was a recounting of what happened. The reality was, it was a black eye for America, and in particular, Bill Clinton. We pulled out after it was over. As I recall, the book got a little more into what little regard most troops had for the commander-in-chief Bill Clinton. I suspect that holds equally true for Obama today.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - Gods & Generals needed to be a TBS mini-series. It was way too long. Duval played Lee, and I only wished he had been able to play Stonewall Jackson at the same age he played Tom Hagen in Godfather. He was perfect for that role.

I like Stephen Lang who played Pickett in Gettysburg, but did not care for his portrayal of Jackson.

Tennessee Jed said...

These are the missions of the star ship Tara . . .

Tennessee Jed said...

Deer Hunter is a fine pick, and in retrospect, I'm amazed it didn't show up earlier.

AndrewPrice said...

... to boldly never go hungry again.

BevfromNYC said...

See, T-Rav, you get the idea!

Voices on VM - "Though you may not know it, Scarlett-bot, you get your strength from the red earth of AlphacenTara! - Tara! - Tara!"

Scarlett-bot - "Yes, I'll go home to AlphacenTara! Because, after all, tomorrow IS in parallel dimension!"

K said...

Tennessee Jed: I missed your review of 12OH and Andrew's Breaker. Perhaps a link to a library of reviews on the site would be a good reference.

Tennessee Jed said...

"K" I don't know how Andrew does his tags. There is one for military, one for war, some index actors, etc. You can peruse by the writer or by genre or by anything Andrew lists in the index :)

AndrewPrice said...

K, There is a link in the sidebar on the right -- under Table of Contents... "Film Reviews."

T-Rav said...

I beg to differ with Andrew and LawHawk; the Ben Affleck-Josh Hartnett movie is easily the best Pearl Harbor film, and really one of the best war films ever. Right?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Don't make me strangle you!

Tennessee Jed said...

T-Rav, I think Trey Parker and Team America would differ with you on that one ;)

ScottDS said...

T-Rav and Andrew -

I'm sure I would feel differently about it today but I never thought Pearl Harbor was a terrible movie. It was made by Michael Bay back when he was merely annoying and not totally offensive. :-)

I also recall an interview with Ben Affleck where he addressed the poor critical reviews. I really think he was onto something when he speculated that one reason critics may have hated the movie was because it was done "straight" - in other words, it wasn't a deconstruction, or a satire, or some post-modern thing. It was a straight war film with a genuine romance and heroics and all that.

Outlaw13 said...

TN Jed,

I never thought the film Black Hawk Down or the book was particularly political, I was referring to the situation itself and our shameful departure from Somalia in the wake of the incident that came to be known as Black Hawk Down.

I mentioned it because it was opined that there couldn't/wouldn't be a good film about Iraq because of the politics involved.

I happen to disagree with that assessment but I'll refrain from going further because I don't think anyone wants to read my rants about idiots who think reasons for the war were trumped up by Haliburton and Bushitler in regards to the movie going public and the film industry.

Soonertroll said...

I'd like to metion John Ford's "Drums Along the Mohawk"(1939), staring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. They play newlyweds settling the Hohawk Valley as Tories and Indians begin stiring as the Revolutionary War begins.

Another great western & war movie, "Major Dundee"(1965) by Sam Peckinpah. Charlton Heston, Richard Harris,James Coburn and a great cast of character actors to long to list.

Also want to mention "Cross of Iron"(1977) by Peckinpah. Set of the eastern front of WWII.

PikeBishop said...

Gettysburg is by far the greatest civil war film. The three set piece battles (Buford's engagement, Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge) are enthralling. Jeff Daniels was ROBBED of a best supporting actor nod as Chamberlain. I watch his speech to the mutineers of the Second Maine every July 4 and it brings tears to my eyes. Nothing sums up what we're fighting for in any American war like this little talk. (As a teacher, I try to remember the major line of that speech every day of my carer, when Chambelain says "We all have......VALUE.") The siege of Litle Round Top is one of the best directed and edited action sequences in history. Twenty two minutes of sweat, terror, blood, bullets, bayonets and courgage.

Commander Max said...

Whenever I hear, "War, what's it good for?".
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
What's most obvious is the people who think that, clearly have no understanding of the subject. They were never picked on when growing up.

That said, some of the war films I liked.
Patton
Tora, Tora, Tora
Midway
Kelly's Hero's
Master and Commander
The Dirty Dozen
The Big Red One
Das Boot
Empire of the Sun
They Were Expendable
Mash
PT 109
The Guns of Navarone
The Hunt for Red October
Clear and Present Danger(I had a friend that lived events from that movie for real. He died before the film came out, kind of creepy).

From sci-fi circles
Biggles Adventures in Time
Starship Troopers
Wing Commander

I'm sure there is more, this is what can remember.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - I agree with you completely.

Pike Bishop - your comments on Gettysburg are spot on. Like you, that speech causes just a little catch in my throat whenever I screen the film.

Max - a nice list there :)

Tennessee Jed said...

Soonertroll - I like Peckinpah films, but as mentioned earlier, I get caught in the trap of mentally categorizing them as westerns rather than war or military films.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, That was obviously a joke on my part! :)

I agree, anyone who thinks war serves no purpose hasn't thought about all the people whose lives have been saved and their countries freed from tyrants. Granted, war is not something you do recklessly or to achieve your own gains, but it is a tool you need to stop evil when it arises.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It just struck me as not a very good film.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, When I say that the politics will stop such a film from being made, I'm not talking about who is right or wrong.

What I mean is that the war is extremely controversial and opinions about it are highly charged and deeply, angrily split (probably as bad as about Vietnam in the early 1970s). So any attempt to make a film about Iraq will likely generate so much bad will from one side or the other that it's just not worth doing if you are looking to finance a film. Remember, Hollywood wants to make money. And with the near 100% track record of failure for those films, I don't see a lot of filmmakers wanting to dive in again.

AndrewPrice said...

Soonertroll, I like Cross of Iron a lot. I ran across that one night and was amazed the film had ever been made since it involved no Americans but was done by Americans. What a cast too!

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Gettysburg is one of those films that gives you a true appreciation of what people went through in the past. It's also fascinatingly political, historical and philosophical as it goes out of it's way to present real arguments about why people fought on both sides. It's one of those films every American should see.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Max, Wing Commander is one of my guilty pleasures. I watch that film far too much! :)

Commander Max said...

I knew that Andrew, but you never know where the trolls lurk.

It's a subject I've been finding myself getting touchy on. Namely where the Dems have let people suffer through history. That's a long list, only 100 mil to communism. That's OK as long as Odumbo plagiarizes Jimmy's speeches. Billy boasts about how much better his presidency was, even though he lost the house and senate to the Reps(first time in 40 years). They should rename the Democrat party the dim bulb party. It fits in so many ways.

Rant over.

AndrewPrice said...

Good point about the trolls, Max.

Yeah, the Democrats are big on historical revisionism. But that's what happens when you have to ignore history to believe in your policies. If they paid attention to history, they would know that everything they have tried has already failed dozens of times. So they learn to ignore history and to re-write it to fit their wishes.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: Another interesting point about Gettysburg, there is only one line delivered by a female in the entire film. Olvia Maxwell (the director's daughter) comments to the Twentieth Maine, "I thought the war was in Virginia." as they tromp past her and (presumably) her younger sister.

shawn said...

I'd like to throw in Gallipoli and the series Black Adder Goes Forth. Both are awesome and quite moving.

Suprised no-ones mentioned Red Dawn yet- Wolverines!

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I never realized that. I thought there were some scenes with families, but I guess not.

AndrewPrice said...

shawn, LOL! Black Adder Goes Forth! Good call.

Red Dawn was excellent. Gallipoli was an interesting film about a truly boneheaded moment.

PikeBishop said...

Shawn, the last ten minutes of the final episode of "Blackadder Goes Fourth" makes eleven years of MASH look like an army recruiting film.

Anonymous said...

Out of the Panelists I'd agree most with ndrew, I love The Great Escape and T-Rav, Black Hawk Down is a classic war movie and they just don't make them anymore.

Also as Tennesse Jed said if we go mini series then Band of Brothers is the best. But another good one is The Anzacs which follows some Australians during WWI, it was made in the 80s and really shows it, but it still tells a story that isn't told else where (on film). Plus it has Paul Hogan in it!

As an Australian I have to put a shout out to some War movies that show Aussies at war like
Breaker Morant (Boer War), Gallipoli, The Lighthorsemen and Beneath Hill 60 (WWI), Kokoda (it isn't great but it is about a very little know part of the Pacific War), The Rats of Tobruk (with the Hollywood version The Desert Rats) (WWII) and The Odd Angry Shot (Vietnam, but not political at all which is amazing in itself).

Of the movies mentioned by other commentators I really like Patton, Stalag 17, Pork Chop Hill, We Were Soldiers, Last of the Mohicans, Generation Kill, Zulu, Taking Chance, The Longest Day, Sergeant York, Battleground, All Quite on the Western Front (original), The Red Badge Of Courage, The Guns Of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, The Desert Fox, The Great Raid, Kellys Heros, Tora Tora Tora, To Hell And Back, Cross Of Iron, Midway, The Big Red One, Das Boot, Mash & Red Dawn!


Others not mentioned that I like are Von Ryans Express (Sinatra leading the Brits), Victory (a WWII movie about POWs playing soccer), Enemy At The Gates, Lawrence Of Arabia, Saving Private Ryan, Inglourious Bastards, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, The Killing Fields, Flags Of Our Fathers, Braveheart, Glory, Top Gun, Andersonville, Sands Of Iwo Jima, The Battle Of The Bulge, The Blue Max, Sink The Bismark, The
Lost Patrol, The Boys In Company C, Memphis Bell, Heartbrake Ridge, Good Morning Vietnam, Rules Of Engagement, Defiance.

There is plenty of others that I cannot think of or do a simple google search on....

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It's always good policy to agree with Andrew! ;)

I love Breaker Morant and most of the films you've listed. I should specifically call out The Boys In Company C, which really surprised me. I didn't even know it existed before I saw Platoon and when I saw it late one night I thought it was a much more interesting Vietnam film.

I have not seen some of the Aussie films you mention like Beneath Hill 60 and Kokoda.

I love Das Boot! What a horrible way to live and what an exciting movie!

AndrewPrice said...

And let me repeat, anyone who has not seen Taking Chance really should see it. It's a truly emotional film.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Some I didn't see above...

Rescue Dawn with Christian Bale and Steve Zahn as Vietnam POWS escaping from their camp... great movie.

To End All Wars with Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle... forget Bridge on the River Kwai... Japanese POW experience was more like this. It never found distribution and went straight to DVD -- a crying shame.

Master and Commander -- Napoleonic Wars...

Paths of Glory and The Caine Mutiny -- great war films and court dramas.

300 was a great movie as well.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Excellent additions, especially Paths of Glory and The Caine Mutiny.

Commander Max said...

To quote from another war movie-
Excalibur
Merlin:"...it is the doom of men, that they forget."

For the Dems it's much worse, they practice the definition of insanity.

Anonymous said...

Well Andrew when you make sense I will always agree with you. And yes Taking Chance is the best war movie that never shows any war scenes, it had me in tears more than once.

And yes the last part of Black Adder Goes Forth is just amazing.

Beneath Hill 60 and Kokoda are both newer movies, BH60 is based on Aussie miners who dug beneath German trenches in WWI and planted mines producing one of the biggest explosions supposedly heard in London, based on a true story and is very claustrophobic. Kokoda suffered from a small budget and a short running time (they had to get it made for an Anzac day opening), but it is still worth the watch.

Though I'd take The Anzacs mini series over both (even with the 80s cheese), though I think you can only find it on torrent sites now days.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, Insanity isn't as insane as it used to be apparently.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, We used to get miniseries all the time in the 1980s, but they seem to be out of fashion these days. And during that period, we had a lot of things about US troops in various wars, but they were rarely worth watching. I think the film/story-telling style at the time was a problem. They weren't very dynamic.

Tennessee Jed said...

Anonymous - I enjoyed Gallipoli and really like3d Breaker Morant. I quite enjoyed Australia as well which did touch on WWII a bit.

PikeBishop said...

As far as the Japanese POW experience, how about "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" with Tom Conti and a (surprisingly effective) David Bowie?

Jen said...

I'm commenting for my dad since he is computer challenged. Some of his favorites that haven't been mentioned are:

A Bridge Too Far
The Fighting 69th
30 Seconds Over Tokyo
Bataan
Guadalcanal Diary
For Whom The Bell Tolls
The Alamo
Beau Geste
War And Peace
Dr. Zhivago
They Died With Their Boots On
The Sullivan Brothers
The Four Feathers
The Fighting Seabees
The Birth of a Nation
Above and Beyond
13 Rue Madeleine
The General (1926)
Schindler's List


AndrewPrice said...

Jen, I like The Alamo a lot. That's one of those films that's proud about its history and is just made in such a grand style.

Outlaw13 said...

Andrew,

I understood about you politics comment. I just think if they were really motivated by the bottom line then they would make more films about the current conflict. Look how well Act of Valor did recently.

I assume when people put down The Alamo they are referring to the John Wayne film and not the more current one with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett...which wasn't that bad either and more historically correct. But as I am sure will be pointed out didn't have John Wayne in it. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Yeah, people like to put down the John Wayne version because it's unapologetic. Personally, I like it for that very reason. :)

Act of Valor did do well, but I still suspect it's just too financially risky right now to bet on a potentially controversial film... it's safer to put out another superhero film or cop movie.

Koshcat said...

I haven't seen all of the Iraq war movies but I liked The Hurt Locker. Not saying there wasn't a political bent but maybe not as bad as some of the others.

For Napoleanic I really like Master and Commander. "don't you know, doctor? One must always choose the lesser of two weevles."

It's a little long, but I also like A Thin Red Line and Flags of my Fathers along with the other WWII movies mentioned.

They're political but there are some really good Vietnam pics. Platoon is very good. I always stop surfing when I find Full Metal Jacket, the first part of the movie is awesome. AN is probably the most messed up and the best of the three.

War movies seem so good. I suspect it stems fom the tension that seems more real than other movies.

Kit said...

Just about all the movies I would mention have been mentioned (Glory, Gettysburg, Longest Day, etc. all great ones) except two.
And one's lack of mention puzzles me.

ANNE FRANK THE WHOLE STORY. Probably under-rated. This ABC mini-series stars Ben Kingsley as Otto Frank and an amazing Hannah Taylor-Gordon as Anne Frank. It describes her life before going into hiding and depicts her life in the death camp. Brilliantly depicts Anne not as some sainted prodigy (like the 1950s movie did) but as a normal teenage girl, warts and all. The kind of girl you could easily imagine having as a classmate; the girl you might have had a crush on in Junior High. She is a normal girl.
Which, in my opinion, makes her ultimate fate even more horrible.
She was a normal teenage girl who, like many other normal, average people, was killed by a great and terrible evil.

DOWNFALL: Okay, why has no one mentioned this movie? I can understand the Anne Frank one as it may not be that well known but what's the excuse on Downfall? Come on, Andrew, T-Rav, Lawhawk, rest of you. What's your excuse?
I want to know.
This is probably the best war movie of the last decade! (Yes, better than Black Hawk Down) Everything about it is amazing, the acting, the directing, the cinematography, the script. Everything!
This German-made film tells the story of Hitler's final ten days and does so in a way that depicts him as a human being (which he was) without garnering sympathy. Pity, maybe. But not sympathy.
Bruno Ganz IS Hitler. Alexandria Maria Lara is great as Hitler's secretary, giving the audience a frightening stand-in for viewing the apocalypse that is hitting Berlin.

It also contains two of the most disturbing scenes in movie history: SPOILERS! (1) the Hitler Youth committing suicide and (2) Frau Goebbels killing her children.

If Schindler's List and Anne Frank: The Whole Story told you about the victims of the Holocaust, Downfall gives you the man responsible and where it all ended. A truly pathetic man and his followers ranting and raving about delusions of "final victory" in a bunker as the Russians steamroll Berlin.
Watching it reminds me of Churchill's speech where he called Hitler "A haunted, morbid being who, to their eternal shame, the German people have worshipped as a god."
In this movie, we see where the worship of the "haunted, morbid being" has led.

So, again, why has no one mentioned this one yet???

P.S. I would also recommend the HBO TV Movie "Conspiracy", which depicts the Wannsee Conference. It stars Kenneth Brannagh, Stanley Tucci, and a young Colin Firth as men at the conference. Another chilling movie about Nazis.

Kit said...

Also, the actress who plays Eva Braun, Juliane Köhler, is magnificent. She has an old Hollywood glamour about her. The kind that came from the Golden age of Hollywood. Managing to give of a warm, almost maternal, glamour especially towards the female lead, Traudl, while the war rages around them. At the same time she is also, well, utterly devoted to the man who is the love of her life: Adolf Hitler.

Juliane Kohler balances these two aspects, the warm and maternal with the fanatical loyalty and outright delusional kookiness in a way that is both seamless and perfect.

K said...

Speaking of Red Dawn - saw it with a fellow graduate student "friend" when it came out. He asked me what I thought of it and I said I liked it, quite a bit actually. He never spoke to me again.

One of the few war movies that get you that response. I imagine his idea of a good war movie would be "Johnny Got His Gun"

Outlaw13 said...

Kit, I didn't mention those films because I've never seen them and I don't particularly care to either.

The subject was what are your "favorite" war films. I can't imagine that someone would say that either one of those is a "favorite".

I would rather watch the kind of clunky Korean War F-86 fighter jet saga The Hunters with Robert Mitchum chewing up the scenery a thousand times before I would watch the two you mentioned.

I know the nazis we horrible, I have actually read books on the subject. I don't really care to see depictions of their evilness on a movie or TV screen. But that's my opinion. Others may beg to differ.

Kit said...

Well, "favorite" or "best" are two words that often get confused. :)

If we are going by a strict "favorite" definition then "Glory" and "Dirty Dozen" would rank high.

Going by "best", DOWNFALL. Not the most easily watchable movies but a brilliant one nonetheless.

BIG MO said...

ScottD - two things turned me off to "Pearl Harbor". First, the P-40s and Zeros were flown like they were X-Wings. Second, the whole final act of the movie involving the Doolittle Raid was preposterous.

One of the first grown-up books I ever read was Ted Lawson's "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," his memoirs of the Doolittle Raid. It's still one of my favorite books, and the movie version of the same name starring Van Johnson as Lawson was very good.

In a movie that went to great lengths to get history right -- or at least as accurate as possible within the constraints of the story -- the final act was one gigantic "Yeah, riiiight." Having the two heroes re-train as bomber pilots and trained to do carrier takeoffs instead of keeping them as veteran fighter pilots who would lead and train other green fighter pilots was silly -- and shattered the suspension of disbelief. (Not to mention Alec Baldwin as Doolittle. Bad casting.)

The whole love story/triangle was fine. But if the movie had ended shortly after the attack on Pearl, it would have been a far better film.

tryanmax said...

Kingdom of Heaven

rlaWTX said...

y'all have mentioned the ones I know, so I will only add that GWTW in NOT - I repeat, N.O.T. - irresistible to all female southerners!!!
Perhaps, and I am attempting to be gentle, it is female southerners of a certain age - my mom LOVES the movie!!!

Otherwise, once y'all have been extremely exhaustive...

K said...

I forgot a fav that likely few have seen. "The Fall of Berlin". A Soviet epic war movie directed by Mikhail Chiaureli which chronicles the German invasion to the end of the war in Europe from the view of several hero workers in Stalin's Russia. At the end, a Stalin lookalike flies into Berlin (never happened) to the worship of the crowds carrying the Allies flags. Both tear jerking and frightening at the same time.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, We call got together and agreed to do that to annoy you. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I would love to see a good movie about Napoleon, but the few I've seen have been more romances than war films. Master and Commander and the PBS series "Sharpe" have been really good.

AndrewPrice said...

K, Amazing. You lost a friend because you enjoyed a movie that went against his ideology? Some people.

I have not seen "The Fall of Berlin." I'll have to look for that.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Hollywood can't help themselves... the heroes must do everything.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I liked parts of that a lot, but couldn't get into the whole thing for some reason.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Careful, Bev might hunt you down! LOL!

K said...

Andrew: Just a guess, but perhaps he objected to my whooping and hollering during the movie when the American helicopter was taking out the Russian APC.

Anonymous said...

I just thought of something. I guess it's not really a war movie,it's more of an adventure story or a period drama,but The 13th Warrior was about the war between that group of Vikings and The Eaters Of The Dead.
Lo there.do I see my father... :)

GypsyTyger

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