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wunderlong88

Classic World War 2 movies - chronologically

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I made a list of classic world war 2 movies chronologically for my family to watch. Most of these I have seen but a few are new to me.  My basic criteria for the list is that each movie covers either a true event from the war or shows something unique or historical (homefront, holocaust, espionage, etc) about the time period.  I am ok with fictional story/characters if it is showing something historically significant.  For example, The Flying Tigers, although mostly fictionalized story and characters shows the American volunteer group that was formed to fight with China before the US entered the war.

Also, with the exception of a three movies (Island on Bird Street, The Gathering Storm and Into the Storm) all the movies are older, classic films.  I'm not interested in adding newer movies.  I'm not interested in general WW2 movies that don't offer something new to this list or are just what I'd call general but totally fictional world war 2 movies.

Until we watch through all of these I am not 100% certain I have them in the best place chronologically and I have a few that I don't know where to put (see the Bio and Prison Break headings).

If anyone would like to contribute more to this list I would love that.  I am sure there are other significant WW2 movies that should be on my WW2 marathon list.  Also, I just thought I would share it here for anyone who might like to have the list for themselves.

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Thanks so much for this. This could be the basis for a month-long theme for TCM or at least a Memorial Day Weekend theme.

Carve Her Name With Pride--Englishwoman is parachuted into France to link up with Resistance--would need to check on exact year. I believe this is based on a true story.

Edge of Darkness--A town in Norway resists its German captors. Very good cast. Fictional.

It's more recent, but you might also like Fat Man and Little Boy, the story of how General Groves (Paul Newman) and J. Robert Oppenheimer put together the team that created the bomb in Los Alamos.

 

 

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Here are some omissions:

WAKE ISLAND Donlevy fights the Japanese at Wake Island.

SO PROUDLY WE HAIL Gallant Nurses heal and evacuate patients  after PEARL HARBOR at Battan.  It Stars Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake (it is probably her best role)

YANK IN THE RAF . Tyrone Power  joins the ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE TO  fight the Nazis during the time before we entered the war.

POST WAR

A FOREIGN AFFAIR.  BILLY WILDER shows the dark side of post war Germany with graft with humor and insight.

 

 

 

fore we entered the war.

 

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A few that come to mind:

Action in the North Atlantic (1943) - Film about the U.S. Merchant Marine and u boats.

Sahara (1943) - Allied soldiers protect a well from a group of axis soldiers

 

 

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This is an outstanding list.  I haven't seen them all, but there are a lot of great WW II movies here that I have seen.

In addition to Merrill's Marauders, I'd suggest Samuel Fuller's other great WW II movie, The Big Red One, starring Lee Marvin.  It recounts Fuller's own experiences as a foot soldier in the First Infantry Division, showing his participation in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily, as well as the D-Day invasion of Normandy.  Although he changed the names, the events are true -- they match almost exactly his descriptions in his excellent autobiography, A Third Face.

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1951, Decision Before Dawn, from FOX, it DEPICTED POST WAR GERMANY right before the war was to end.It also, debuted OSCAR WARNER in his first American film. This film is generally known outside the METRO AND WARNER'S bubble. 

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A Walk in the Sun deals with American soldiers during the invasion of Italy. Somewhat poetic voiceover, strong cast.

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how long has it been since tcm aired the eternal sea my favorite sterling hayden war film.

he's great! only one leg but he doan give up.

:)

 

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Love the suggestions.  I have Five Graves to Cairo and didn't think to put it on the list, as well Sahara and Action in the North Atlantic. This is what happens when you have t0o many movies.  I have them all in the list but a few (marked with AMazon or ? because I need to obtain them before we watch them all)

I really like 5 Graves and Sahara.  Can't remember what I thought of Action in the North Atlantic.

Thanks.  I will add some of these and look for those that are new to me.

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On 9/12/2019 at 10:31 AM, wunderlong88 said:

I made a list of classic world war 2 movies chronologically for my family to watch. Most of these I have seen but a few are new to me.  My basic criteria for the list is that each movie covers either a true event from the war or shows something unique or historical (homefront, holocaust, espionage, etc) about the time period.  I am ok with fictional story/characters if it is showing something historically significant.  For example, The Flying Tigers, although mostly fictionalized story and characters shows the American volunteer group that was formed to fight with China before the US entered the war.

Also, with the exception of a three movies (Island on Bird Street, The Gathering Storm and Into the Storm) all the movies are older, classic films.  I'm not interested in adding newer movies.  I'm not interested in general WW2 movies that don't offer something new to this list or are just what I'd call general but totally fictional world war 2 movies.

 

This list is great as it is, I like the concept. A movie time line "more or less". What would be your year cut off ?

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Don't really have a cut off year, per se.  We are watching all of these with our homeschooled 13 year old son as he studies WW2 this year for school.  Doesn't hurt that his dad and I highly enjoy the topic and the movies.  I've thought about doing this for a long time and finally decided now was a good time.

Struggling with where to put Macarthur, Into the Storm, Counterfeit Traitor, Colditz Story and Password is Courage.  I've seen all of these but can't remember enough about them to now what time they "mostly" take place since they are more broad in scope.  Most of the ones that are broad I try to pick the main time that is covered, if possible.

Here is an updated version with some new ones added in.

Also, I have these on my radar but don't know how worthwhile they are as I haven't seen them:

The Secret Invasion

49th Parallel

49th Man

We Dive at Dawn (I actually have this from a WW2 set I bought but we haven't watched it yet)1404459383_WW2MoviesChrono.thumb.jpg.7df53778e2353579c12fb63925eb1567.jpg

 

 

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WW2 Movies Chrono2.jpg

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It's cool that you're watching these films as a family. You can be sure that the older films are not too violent for family viewing (and that works for me, too). This is also a good springboard to studying the history and looking at how the history is shaped in the film.

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1 minute ago, kingrat said:

You can be sure that the older films are not too violent for family viewing (and that works for me, too).

You sure wouldn't want war films to be too violent, or people might get the wrong idea.

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2 minutes ago, kingrat said:

It's cool that you're watching these films as a family. You can be sure that the older films are not too violent for family viewing (and that works for me, too). This is also a good springboard to studying the history and looking at how the history is shaped in the film.

I can't watch many American WWII films as a family since my side is German and Japaneses and my wife's is Italian!

I'm joking,  but only partly;  e.g. my father-in-law complains about how Italians are portrayed in WWII films; often as just stooges for their German masters,  or cowards.      My mom; well she still feels the wrong side won and that her people didn't commit any war crimes.    Things go south if I remind her of how Korean women were treated.

  

 

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I think nobody has mentioned the grit and realism of William Wellman's THE STORY OF G.I. JOE.  One of my favorites . Somehow the mud on this independent production seemed more realistic than what a major studio production could produce. Mitchum's performance brought him an Oscar nomination and the attention of the major studios.  No more 'B' westerns ... bad guy or good guy.

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2 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I can't watch many American WWII films as a family since my side is German and Japaneses and my wife's is Italian!

I'm joking,  but only partly;  e.g. my father-in-law complains about how Italians are portrayed in WWII films; often as just stooges for their German masters,  or cowards.      My mom; well she still feels the wrong side won and that her people didn't commit any war crimes.    Things go south if I remind her of how Korean women were treated.

    It is sad, but I admire your honesty about people so close to you. At least your head is on straight.

  

 

 

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On 9/13/2019 at 10:06 PM, NipkowDisc said:

how long has it been since tcm aired the eternal sea my favorite sterling hayden war film.

Just like Hot Spell, it appears TCM has never aired The Eternal Sea.

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A couple of worthy movies not mentioned as far as I can tell:

Battleground, also about the Battle of the Bulge.

The Heroes of Telemark, about the Norwegian resistance's destruction of a German heavy water plant

Go for Broke!, about the Asian-American brigade that fought in Europe

Wake Island, about the 1942 naval battle.

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Here are the USSR/Russian WWII films, remember them?, they played a big part in the conflict.

25 Great Soviet and Russian Films about World War II
Posted on May 10, 2015 by Leo Poroshin

Mashenka (1942) Dir. by Yuli Raizman

This brief, chamber film stands out among the Soviet productions leading up to war. Here, the focus is trained not on the Great Collective, or the march to the shiny future, but on personal experience. Throughout the film, it stays on the heroine, showing her life, joys, and sorrows. A simple telegraph girl who trains as a nurse, Mashenka finds love and loses it, laughs and cries, hopes and grieves. And then, the war happens.

In the picture, it’s the Finnish war, but because the film wasn’t finished and released until 1942, it came to symbolize the despair of the ongoing war and the hopes that its ending may offer. There are many scenes of note, but the ambiguous ending is the most striking part of the film.

After briefly reuniting with her love on the war-time road, and parting with an understanding that they’ll meet again, Mashenka’s happy and waving figure is framed by silhouettes of cars and the galloping cavalrymen. The viewer is left with a mix of concern and hope.

Much like Waterloo Bridge and Brief Encounters, Mashenka remains watchable by concentrating on the human and the humane. The happiness shown here is private and personal. By continuously lingering on the face of the heroine, catching both the shadows of sorrows and rays of joy that it emanates, this poignant melodrama remains a shining example of lyricism and hope.

 

Two Soldiers (1943) Dir. by Leonid Lukov

The two titular soldiers are simple machine gunners at the Leningrad front. They fight the enemy, they go on rare leaves into city, they sleep, eat, and sing in the trenches. Then, there is a rift between them, but it’s mended on the battlefield. The end.

What, then, makes this simple film so watchable? The excellent characterization and focus on the simpler things in life. Not glory, valor, or life for the party and/or Motherland, but-friendship, camaraderie, songs. One of them is a blacksmith from the Ural mountains, a surly and burly fellow. The other-a shipwright from Odessa, lightning-quick with emotions, jokes, responses, quips, and songs, much in the spirit of his hometown. The highest brass we see is their battalion commander.

The songs deserve a special mention, as they are still performed in Russia. One is heart-wringing “Dark Night”, of a night at war and hope to return home. The other-“Boatfuls of Mullet”, a half-klezmer, half-underworld ditty about a lucky fisherman of Odessa. Nothing about those songs is political, everything-human. As is this film. Special mention must be made of the realistically filmed combat sequences (although they were all done at the studio lot).

 

Rainbow (Raduga) (1943) Dir. by Mark Donskoy

This film was influential on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s remarkable in its emotional and powerful depiction of life under the Nazi occupation. Harrowing scenes follow each other-a woman walks barefoot in the snow. A newborn’s life is brutally ended hours after birth. A 10-year old is shot for trying to sneak bread to the prisoners (with his family watching from the window, and his death being marked by his little sister’s emotionless “Mama, Misha fell.”).

Later, his family buries him beneath the dirt floor in their hut, and they all walk back and forth to level out the hill. A bored and cold German soldier plays a game of “eenie-meenie-miny-moe”, aiming at a group of children, most too young to even comprehend the danger.

The titular rainbow appears only in the end as the glimmer of hope, after the grieving mother’s ordeal is over at the gallows. The writer, Wanda Wasilewska, also wrote the screenplay, and the decision to focus the attention on the plight of women and children amid the violence pays off. It was shown to acclaim in America, garnering an honorary Oscar.

And, even though it was largely filmed on the studio set, its style was an acknowledged influence on Italian neo-realists. 70 years later, it lost none of capacity to move to tears, and none of its power.

Soldiers (1956) Dir. by Aleksandr Ivanov

After a prolonged period of officialdom, where comrade Stalin and The Party were hailed as primary heroes, a new way of looking at the not-distant war emerged. Viktor Nekrasov’s novella “In the trenches of Stalingrad” came out to acclaim in 1946, and 10 years later he was able to make a humanistic, de-heroizing screenplay out of it.

As the title suggests, it’s a story about soldiers, about their lives in combat and in rare moments between fighting. The main characters, a lieutenant and a couple of privates, retreat from Kharkiv to Stalingrad, are reassigned, go from defense to offense and back again, eat, drink, sleep, smoke, are wounded and hospitalized-all the day-to-day details are here, presented matter-of-factly and without pathos.

More than that, the cost of the war and the attitudes and costly ignorance of higher command are questioned. Additionally, this film gave the great Russian actor Innokenty Smoktunovsky his first notable role (he would go on to play Hamlet, Tchaikovsky, and Uncle Vanya to great acclaim), and it’s symptomatic-the new aesthetic called for actors who live the part rather than act it, which Smoktunovsky was more than able to do due to his own wartime experience.

The Cranes are Flying (1957) Dir. by Mikhail Kalatozov

This extraordinary film singlehandedly gave Soviet cinema a new creative jolt. Elements here a perfectly combined-humanistic screenplay by Mikhail Rozov, contemporary and real acting by the leads, Kalatozov’s sure-handed direction, and, of course, the dazzling bw cinematography by Sergei Urusevsky.

The story of a love ruined by the war, of a family shattered, and of Veronika’s ultimate redemption draws in, keeps on the emotional edge, and provides a whole range of sensations. After about two decades of suspicion towards “formalism”, the form here strikes back with a vengeance, recalling the giddy days of Eisenstein, Vertov, Kuleshov, Dovzhenko, and other early masters of montage shaping the language of cinema.

Urusevsky, a cinematographer with a painter’s education (and a talented painter in his own right), here brings back the powerful mobility of the camera and the striking imagery.

Deserves to be seen as a whole, but several scenes particularly stand out-the lovers greeting the morning together, the scene of Veronika rushing past the mobilized crowds to say goodbye, the moment where she is confronted with her bombed-out flat and loss of family, and, of course, the legendary death scene for Boris, where by the miracle of swirling shots and multiple expositions the experience of life cut short untimely is brilliantly conveyed to the audience. The Palme d’Or is not its true reward-but its continuing relevance and artistry is.

Ballad of a Soldier (1959) Dir. by Grigori Chukhrai

Continuing the good tradition that The Cranes are Flying began, this humane and well-made film stirred emotions well beyond the Iron Curtain. While not as technically stunning as Kalatozov’s masterpiece, its structure and cohesion make it a very worthy equal. Further continuing the youthful spirit of Khruschev’s Thaw, it features two very young actors in leading roles.

The soldier of the title is Alyosha. More out of fear and self-preservation than courage, he commits a heroic act and is rewarded with a week’s leave. He travels on the rails back to his native village. But the journey and the encounters he makes take up most of his leave time.

On the way, he encounters Shura, a young girl travelling alone. Together, they meet different kinds of people-some good, some unhappy, some downright ugly. Alyosha is able to help those in need due to his openness and positivity. Especially memorable is the scene where they encounter a recent amputee who feels worthless and suicidal.

The talented actor Yevgeny Urbansky virtually steals the scene with his intense performance. Alyosha and Shura part with hope and understanding of their feeling toward each other. He is only able to see his mother briefly before having to return. Spoiler alert-there is a spoiler in the beginning, where the voiceover mentions that Alyosha will perish at war.

But at the end, the viewer is still left with the good feeling of hope. The film’s success at the San Francisco Film Festival and the Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay are well-earned.

 

Destiny of a Man (1959) Dir. by Sergei Bondarchuk

Together with The Cranes are Flying and Ballad of a Soldier, forms an informal and influential trilogy of the Thaw period. It slightly leans towards monumentalism (plenty of low-angled shots of the lead character), mostly due to the fact that the debuting director was one of USSR’s lead actors who cast himself in the lead role. But it more than makes up for it with its important and novel message of compassion towards the POWs, who under Stalin were vilified and persecuted.

Mikhail Sholokhov’s story is faithfully adapted to the screen. A Russian man creates a family, overcoming his alcoholism in process, but loses everyone he loves during the war, and goes through the POW concentration hell. He becomes a lonely and empty-souled trucker, until he adopts an orphaned boy, thus gaining a new reason for living and reshaping his destiny.

For a debut, Bondarchuk’s direction is solid, and his acting is powerful as usual. The concentration camp scenes are staged liked an expressionistic horror movie, with the strength of human spirit persevering and overcoming the hardships.

The scene where the hero wins his life in the drinking game the Nazis force him to partake in is central in the film (we can’t help but applaud him when he says “I never chase the first shot”). Overall, a moving film that continues the humanistic spirit of the Thaw and de-Stalinization.

Peace to Him Who Enters (1961) Dir. by Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov

In Japanese theatre, there is a concept of “michiyuki”, literally translated as “to go on the road”. Michiyuki scenes are performed by travelers going from one place to another. Nowhere is the road more important than at war, where each step can be challenging and treacherous. It’s well presented in this pacifist road film.

A young lieutenant fresh out of officer’s school arrives in Germany days before peace is signed. He is eager to go to the frontlines. Instead, he gets a very unheroic task of supervising a transportation to the hospital of two patients-a shell-shocked soldier and a German woman due to give birth.

The miscommunications here are astounding-the lieutenant knows little of life and warfare, the German woman only speaks German, the happy-go-lucky driver is a chatterbox who just gabs away about everything under the sun. The most silent character is a wounded deaf-mute soldier (who also just learned he has no family to come home to), a war-scarred zombie (a powerful silent portrayal by the actor).

And the miscommunications continue along the way as they travel through war-torn Germany. They get lost, they encounter concentration camp survivors (only one of whom speaks very broken Russian), as well as a lively American GI (played by a frequent Tarkovsky actor Nikolai Grinko), who, naturally, only speaks English (but loves life, beer, and to dance Charleston).

On their way, the young lieutenant comes to understand life, war, and peace a little better, while the German woman and the wounded soldier exorcise some of their demons. The final shot, of a newborn relieving himself on a pile of decommissioned weapons, is a powerful symbol of life’s triumph over death and destruction.

 

Full post here Taste of Cinema

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Peace to Him Who Enters is a fine film. I saw this at a college film series years ago and have rarely even heard of it again. Thanks for the reminder.

I notice that the review of The Cranes Are Flying doesn't mention the rape scene.

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If we're mentioning non-US WWII films, Tank Brigade has to get a nod. It's like the only WWII movie where the Germans use actual German equipment (not Patton tanks or M1 rifles and such).

 

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