The Great Escape: Looking back at one of Hollywood's greatest movies

When I give thought to my favorite World War II movies and war films in general, my top pick is still 1963's The Great Escape. This epic movie was produced and directed by John Sturges, based on Paul Brickhill's non-fiction book of the same name (still in print today). The movie stars an ensemble cast of highly acclaimed actors, including Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, Hannes Messemer, David McCallum, Karl-Otto…

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New book release: "Killin' Generals: The Making of The Dirty Dozen, the Most Iconic WW II Movie of All Time"

On 25 April 2023, Citadel released a new book by author Dwayne Epstein titled Killin' Generals: The Making of The Dirty Dozen, the Most Iconic WW II Movie of All Time. I've picked up a copy of the book but have only skimmed through chapter titles and will provide a review at a later date. As a fan of this movie and the film industry's broad brush at crafting World War II history in the 1960s and 1970s, this title should be a quick and entertaining read. From the publisher: "An explosive inside…

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All Quiet on the Western Front | Official Trailer | Netflix

From Netflix: "All Quiet on the Western Front tells the gripping story of a young German soldier on the Western Front of World War I. Paul and his comrades experience first-hand how the initial euphoria of war turns into desperation and fear as they fight for their lives, and each other, in the trenches. The film from director Edward Berger is based on the world renowned bestseller of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque." If you've read the original novel by Erich Maria Remarque or have seen…

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On 2 October 1962: ABC premiers Combat! - TV's longest-running World War II drama

As a Baby Boomer growing up in the early 1960s and son of a World War II veteran, Combat! was must-see TV. I have fond memories of watching this black-and-white show on our Zenith television set. Combat! was my favorite show. For a complete run-down and history on the show, check out the Combat! Wikipedia page here. Photo at left: Rick Jason (left) and Vic Morrow in a first-season episode. U.S. Navy veteran Vic Morrow is actress Jennifer Jason Leigh's father. Tragically, Vic was killed while…

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They Were Expendable - 1945 John Ford Film with John Wayne and Donna Reed. Battle of the Philippines.

This movie was based on a fictional book that was based on actual events and people. Typical movie of the era with John Wayne having a love interest with Donna Reed. However, plenty of other characters get screen time. Not heavy on action, more along the storyline of the Torpedo boats proving themselves in battle and how they and thousands of other troops were sacrificed (expendable) to prolong the Japanese advance and give America time to rebuild after Pearl Harbor. I don't think the struggles…

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1 Reply · Reply by Scott Lyons May 30, 2022
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My Top Ten Favorite WWII Movies

There was a recent Tweet on Twitter that listed someone's Top Ten War movies. I think that is hard to pare down, so I'd like to offer my favorite Top Ten WWII movies, in no particular order. And yes, TV mini-series do count.  \:-) 1. The Great Escape - A classic and my all-time favorite. 2. Band of Brothers (HBO) - Modern-day classic that I watch at least once per month. 3. The Pacific (HBO) - A close second to B.o.B. Very emotion-packed series. 4. Enemy at the Gates - Rich history of the…

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1 Reply · Reply by Scott Lyons Jan 23, 2022
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Movie Review: Fury

Movie Review: Fury No spoilers “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.” This dramatic quote spoken by Staff Sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (played by Brad Pitt), becomes a harbinger of subsequent events in Sony Pictures new World War II movie Fury. Pitt’s line lets the audience know this isn’t ‘your father’s’ World War II movie—Fury reveals cruelty and meanness absent from other fictional movies depicting the War in Western Europe. There is no ‘glorification of war’ from writer-director…

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2 Replies · Reply by Scott Lyons Jan 22, 2022
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Some thoughts on the movie “Inglourious Basterds”

Memo to Hollywood: phony Southern accents don’t work. You’re either from the South or you’re not. Had Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 World War II fantasy Inglourious Basterds been print-only, the audience wouldn’t have to suffer through Brad Pitt’s dreadfully-portrayed southern accent. I have mixed reactions about this film. Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs have been in my DVD collection for years. It is Tarantino’s writing and direction that make his movies uniquely his. Inglourious Basterds has some…

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2 Replies · Reply by Scott Lyons Jan 22, 2022
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Historical Battle Films (not all-inclusive)


Ancient and Medieval History

  • Alexander Nevsky (1938) – Battle on the Ice
  • El Cid (1961) – Siege of Valencia during the Reconquista
  • Kagemusha (1980) – Battle of Takatenjin, Battle of Nagashino
  • Henry V (1989) – Battle of Agincourt
  • Braveheart (1995) – Battle of Stirling Bridge, Battle of Falkirk (1298)
  • The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999) – Siege of Orléans
  • Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Battle of Hattin, Siege of Jerusalem (1187)
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) – Battle of Gravelines
  • Arn – The Knight Templar (2007) – Battle of Montgisard

Early Modern History

  • Zulu (1964) – Battle of Rorke's Drift
  • War and Peace (1968) – Battle of Borodino
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) – Battle of Balaklava
  • Waterloo (1970) – Battle of Waterloo
  • Glory (1989) – Second Battle of Fort Wagner
  • Gettysburg (1993) – Battle of Gettysburg
  • The Patriot (2000) – Battle of Cowpens
  • The Last Samurai (2003) – Satsuma Rebellion
  • The Alamo (2004) – Battle of the Alamo
  • Alatriste (2006) – Battle of Rocroi
  • The Sovereign's Servant (2007) – Battle of Poltava

20th Century History

  • The Longest Day (1962) – Invasion of Normandy
  • Battle of the Bulge (1965) – Battle of the Bulge
  • Liberation, Oszvobozdeniye (1969) – Battle of Kursk, Battle of Berlin
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) – Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • March on the Drina (1964) – Battle of Cer
  • Battle of Neretva (1969) – Battle of Neretva
  • Cross of Iron (1977) – Eastern Front (World War II)
  • A Bridge Too Far (1977) – Battle of Arnhem
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987) – Battle of Hue
  • Hamburger Hill (1987) – Battle of Hamburger Hill
  • Border (1997) – Battle of Longewala
  • Stalingrad (1993) – Battle of Stalingrad
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Invasion of Normandy (Omaha Beach, Dog Green sector)
  • The Thin Red Line (1998) – Battle of Guadalcanal
  • When Trumpets Fade (1998) – Battle of Hurtgen Forest
  • Enemy at the Gates (2001) – Battle of Stalingrad
  • Pearl Harbor (2001) – Attack on Pearl Harbor, Doolittle Raid
  • Black Hawk Down (2001) – Battle of Mogadishu
  • We Were Soldiers (2002) – Battle of Ia Drang
  • Windtalkers (2002) – Battle of Saipan
  • Tango Charlie (2005) – various aspects of Naxalite-Maoist insurgency and Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Lakshya (2004) – Kargil War
  • Flags of our Fathers (2006) – Battle of Iwo Jima
  • Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) – Battle of Iwo Jima