World War II movies: from the time of the war (civilian and military) suggestions?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick McCart, Apr 24, 2002.

  1. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I'm writing a report on movies during WWII in my U.S. History class, and I'd like some suggestions.
    I have the obligatory The Great Dictator (which technically is older, but is important to the time), Casablanca, several cartoons (Snafu, even!), and information about how movie stars contributed to the war effort (like Cary Grant giving his pay from Arsenic and Old Lace to the War Department [​IMG] ) I also plan on mentioning the Why We Fight series.
    Any suggestions for any films from the time?
     
  2. Larry Schneider

    Larry Schneider Second Unit

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    You might want to mention that James Stewart was a B-24 pilot, for real, bombing Germany; and that John Ford filmed combat documentaries and was wounded filming the attack on Midway.

    A good wartime John Wayne film on DVD is They Were Expendable.

    Some other good wartime movies not yet on DVD are 49th Parallel, Air Force, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Bataan and Back to Bataan.
     
  3. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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    You may want to check out Guadalcanal Diary. Also- I saw a very interesting documentary on AMC one time about war films called Cinema Combat: Hollywood Goes to War.
     
  4. Michael Warner

    Michael Warner Supporting Actor

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    Check out "Sahara" from 1943. It stars Humphrey Bogart as an American tank commander in North Africa. It has the typical "we're all in this together" storyline featuring various Allies working together against the Nazis but the movie sticks in my mind because it prominently features a black actor (Rex Ingram) playing a Sudanese soldier who turns out to be the most capable and professional of the bunch. Not a typical Hollywood characterization for that time period by any means.
     
  5. andrew markworthy

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    There are some excellent Brit movies of the period as well. Interestingly, some of them were attempts to make people wary of relaxing their guard (NB: Britain was of course in danger of invasion for much of the war) or take a more balanced view rather than being gung-ho patriotic. Try 'Went the day well?' with a script by Graham Greene, which is all about Brit traitors who aid a Nazi invasion. Also, The life and times of Colonel Blimp (which Churchill tried to ban for being too demoralising and taking a sympathetic veiw of non-Nazi Germans).

    There's also Laurence Olivier's production of Henry V, which now is beginning to smell of old ham, but it was a deliberate patriotic morale booster in 1944 (all about preparing an army to invade France ...).

    Henry V is out on DVD (on Criterion in the US) and Colonel Blimp is either out or coming out (may just be R2, though, alas I can't recall). I don't thik 'went the day well?' is available in any format (however, do try to see it if you ever can - it's a v. good film, regardless of its historical significance).
     
  6. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Another good morale-builder was The Sea Hawk, starring Errol Flynn, particularly the Queen's message at the end. Sure, it's a swashbuckler, but it's about one Englishman taking on the Spanish Armada, surviving his darkest moment and emerging triumphant.
     
  7. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    Look for Alexandr Nevsky by Sergei Eisenstein and Triumph of the Will by Leni Reifenstahl.

    Oh, and the Bugs Bunny wartime stuff. I think I even have a VHS tape somewhere of the one with the little gremlin pounding on bombs with a hammer....
     
  8. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Destination Tokyo--Great example of a Hollywood wartime morale booster.

    Made in 1942, it's about a sub infiltrating Tokyo Bay in order to aid in the Doolittle raid. Stars Cary Grant as the sub captain, with many familiar faces as the crewmembers.

    Another favorite was Mrs. Miniver, a film about the trials and tribulations of a British family on the homefront early in the war. Stars Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.
     
  9. Rob Pritchard

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    Patrick,
    I'd recommend The Story Of G.I. Joe (1945), which depicts the exploits of real life war reporter Ernie Pyle (played here by Burgess Meredith) and his experiences with the men of Company C during the Italian campaign.
    There's a remarkable physical grittiness to the film - the men are constantly depicted slogging through dust, mud & torrential rain - and a low key documentary style to it that's ultimately very moving indeed. Robert Mitchum was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the captain of C Company.
    Overall it's about as realistic a vision of front line combat by the US infantry in Italy as you could expect given the period it was made and in many ways the Saving Private Ryan of its time. The R1 DVD is available from Image but I'd really like to see Criterion get their hands on this one.
    Also well worth watching is the British film 49th Parallel (1941) from the producing/directing team of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger.
    A U-boat captain & his crew are stranded in Canada & make their way across the country in the hopes of smuggling themselves into the US and scoring a huge propaganda coup for the Nazi cause.
    Aimed at encouraging America to enter WW2 this is a fabulous example of how to turn propaganda into entertainment & has great performances from Eric Portman (as the Nazi sub commander), Laurence Olivier & Leslie Howard.
    Hope these help! Good luck with your report.
    Rob[​IMG]
     
  10. Dave Hensley

    Dave Hensley Auditioning

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    For a look at the lasting effects of the war on those who came home, check out Best Years of Our Lives -- won multiple Oscars I believe, and was a real eye opener for me. Takes place immediately after the end of the war.
     

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