Cabaret (1972), Director: Bob Fosse, Running time: 124 minutes.
A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them. It is the city of Berlin in 1930, a time when political unrest racks the country, the economy has been destroyed, and millions of unemployed roam the streets. Enter into this chaos an American cabaret dancer, working at the downtown "Kit-Kat club" where anything goes on the stage. Into this young dancer's life come several characters such as a rich German politician, a young Jewish man struggling with his identity, an Englishman teacher from London, and of course the all-knowing, all-seeing Master of Ceremonies. (Written by Anthony Hughes for IMBd)
The Caine Mutiny (1954), Director: Edward Dmytryk, Running time: 125 minutes.
During the Second World War, onboard a small insignificant ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet, an event occurs unlike any that the United States Navy has ever experianced. A Ship's Captain is removed from his command by his Executive Officer in an apparent outright act of mutiny. As the trial of the mutineers unfold, it is then learned that the Captain of the ship was mentally unstable, perhaps even insane. The Navy must then decide: was the Caine Mutiny a criminal act or an act of courage to save a ship from destruction at the hands of her Captain.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001), Director: John Madden, Running time: 129 minutes.
Set on the Greek island of Cephallonia, the drama begins in 1940 with occupation by Italian troops, awkwardly allied with the Nazis and preferring hedonistic friendliness over military intimidation. That attitude is most generously embodied by Captain Corelli (Nicolas Cage), who is instantly drawn to the Greek beauty Pelagia (Penélope Cruz) despite her engagement to Mandras (Christian Bale), a resistance fighter whose absence leaves Pelagia needy for affection. Mandras's eventual return—and the inevitable attack by German bombers and ground troops—threaten to stain this Greek-Italian romance with deeply tragic bloodshed. (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)
Captains of the Clouds (1942), Director: Michael Curtiz, Running Time: 113 minutes
Brian McLean is a ruthless bush-pilot in Canada. He offers some other pilots an opportunity of earning a lot of money, but he marries the girl-friend of one of them. After listening to Churchill's famous "Blood, Sweat and tears" radio address he and some other pilots decide to join the RCAF—and his superior is always the pilot whose girlfriend he has married. Due to this, and the fact that McLean doesn't like to obey, he gets troubles.
Carrie's War (2004), Director: Coky Giedroyc, Running time: 90 minutes.
At the start of World War II, 14-year-old Carrie and her younger brother Nick are separated from their mother and evacuated from war-torn London to a rural village in Wales. Upon their arrival, they are assigned to live with a troubled family, the puritanical shopkeeper Mr. Evans, a widower, and his spinster sister, a timid woman named Lou. While Lou is thrilled to lavish attention on the children, Mr. Evans remains cold and distant. But Carrie and Nick’s fortunes take a turn for the better when they’re sent to fetch a Christmas goose from mysterious Druid’s Bottom, a manor house occupied by a self-professed witch named Hepzibah and Mr. Evans’s ethereal, estranged sister, Mrs. Gotobed. Filled with magical adventures and first love, this heartfelt and faithful adaptation of Nina Bawden’s beloved novel stars Alun Armstrong (Bleak House), Lesley Sharp (The Full Monty), Pauline Quirke (David Copperfield), Geraldine McEwan (Miss Marple), and Keeley Fawcett (At Home with the Braithwaites) as Carrie.
Casablanca (1943), Director: Michael Curtiz, Running Time: 103 minutes
World War II Morocco springs to life in Michael Curtiz's classic love story. Colorful characters abound in Casablanca, a waiting room for Europeans trying to escape Hitler's war-torn Europe. Humphrey Bogart plays Richard "Rick" Blaine, a cynical but good-hearted American whose café is the gathering place for everyone from the French Police to the black market to the Nazis. When his long-lost love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), surfaces in Casablanca with her Resistance leader husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), Rick is pulled into both a love triangle and a web of political intrigue. Ilsa and Victor need to escape from Casablanca, and Rick may be the only one who can help them.
Catch-22 (1970), Director: Mike Nichols, Running Time: 121 minutes
Joseph Heller's novel was one of the seminal literary events of the 1960s, but Mike Nichols's film ultimately proved too literal in its attempt to bring Heller's fragmented fiction to the screen. Still, Nichols, who made this on the heels of The Graduate, seemed the ideal candidate to tackle this Buck Henry adaptation. The story deals with bomber pilot Yossarian (Alan Arkin), who has flown enough missions to get out of World War II but can't because the number of missions needed for discharge keeps getting raised. The satire and absurdity of Heller's book get lost in Nichols's effort to give screen time to the members of his all-star cast, which includes Orson Welles, Jon Voight, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Richard Benjamin, and Martin Sheen, among others. (Marshall Fine for Amazon.com)
Charlotte Gray (2001), Director: Gillian Armstrong, Running Time: 121 minutes
The title character of the film, which is based on a popular novel of the same name by Sebastian Faulks, is a young Scottish woman (Blanchett) who has come to London to help with the war effort. After quickly falling in love with a dashing pilot who is summarily shot down in southwest France, the intensely patriotic Charlotte joins a special operations outfit in order to find him. Competent melodrama to this point, the film goes astray from here. Since repeated references are made to Charlotte's fluent French, it is hard to maintain any suspension of disbelief when she parachutes into Lezignac and we discover that the French resistance fighters she works with speak English with alternately French or British accents (while the Nazis continue to speak German without subtitles). A similarly perfunctory schema of good versus evil among the citizenry is soon laid out as collaborators and patriots are painted with equally simplistic strokes. Blanchett, along with Billy Crudup and Michael Gambon, gives a lively performance despite a shoddy script, but director Gillian Armstrong's conceits to a mainstream audience seem jumbled and not a little condescending. (Fionn Meade for Amazon.com)
Colditz (2005), Director: Stuart Orme, Running time: 184 minutes.
The Nazis claimed no one could escape from Colditz Castle, the notorious World War II POW camp and former mental instiution. Allied officer Jack Rose, a prisoner, was convinced otherwise, and with fellow members of the Rose gang, engineered an ingenious plan of escape. What Rose didn’t know was that even in freedom, betrayal lurked just a step ahead. Other stars in this TV miniseries include Sophia Myles, Damian Lewis, Jason Priestly, James Fox and Laurence Fox.
Come and See (1985), Director: Elem Klimov, Running Time: 142 minutes
Come And See focuses on 13-year-old Florya (Kravchenko) as he staggers through these terrors. After digging a gun out of the sand where it lies buried with a dead soldier, the young boy leaves his mother and twin sisters, still happy and smiling. The partisans leave him behind when they march off to battle, hoping to preserve his innocence, but there's no such luck for Florya. After getting caught in an air raid (an incredible sequence where the trees around the actor are blown out of the ground), he returns home to find his family has been murdered. He's then captured when hiding in another village and witnesses further butchery.
Come See the Paradise (1991), Director: Alan Parker, Running Time: 133 minutes
Portraying one of the shadier details of American history, this is the story of Jack McGurn, who comes to Los Angeles in 1936. He gets a job at a movie theatre in Little Tokyo and falls in love with the boss's daughter, Lily Kawamura. When her father finds out, he is fired and forbidden ever to see her again. But together they escape to Seattle. When the war breaks out, the authorities decide that the Japanese immigrants must live in camps like war prisoners.
Concerto (2008), Director: Paul Alexander Morales, Running time: NA.
Concerto is about how, in the last part of World War II, a special piano concert is held in the forest outside Davao City, in Mindanao. In these boondocks, a displaced Filipino family becomes acquainted with a group of Japanese officers, similarly camped nearby. Family values are questioned as the family treads the thin line between enemy and friend with the occupying Japanese.
Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), Director: Anatole Litvak, Running Time: 110 minutes
Litvak's melodrama is a fascinating snapshot of American attitudes to the rise of Nazism in 1939, and was released months before war was declared. If Robinson's tenacious FBI man was so desperate to nail home-grown adherents to the ideology, and if Lukas's Dr. Kassel is such an obviously loony Hitler wannabe, it's almost surprising that the American government left it as late as it did to enter the Second World War: there's not a sliver of ambivalence or apathy in the attitudes of the good guys. Sanders and Tree are among the conspirators plotting to form a Stateside branch of the Master Race.
Conspiracy (2008), Director: Frank Pierson, Running Time: 96 minutes
By the winter of 1942, Hitler's dream of Aryan supremacy had become a nightmare. His armies could be found freezing and starving on the Eastern front, and America's fighting forces had just entered the war to the West. On January 20th of that year, 15 officials attended a conference at Wannsee on the outskirts of Berlin. Comprised of mid-ranking SS commanders and a variety of government ministers, the meeting was organized by SS Major Adolf Eichmann, under the direction of the ruthless and efficient Chief of Security Reinhard Heydrich. It was to be a polite conference with food, wine and some debate, but beneath this thin veneer of manners lay an evil intent. By the meeting's close, the fate of six million lives would be decided, and a terrible machine put into operation that would alter the shape of the world. Conspiracy is based on the only surviving record of that meeting. It would be the blueprint for Hitler's "final solution."
The Counterfeit Traitor (1962), Director: George Seaton, Running Time: 140 minutes
There's no way out for American-raised Swede Eric Erickson. Either he becomes an Allied spy, or he faces a trumped-up charge of Nazi collaboration. "How does one get to be so cold-blooded?" Erickson snaps at the English agent blackmailing him. "Watching German planes bomb London helps enormously," is the reply.
William Holden portrays Erickson in this taut thriller that progresses from subterfuge to discovery and finally to breathless escape. The story, based on Alexander Klein's book, is true. And the use of European locations where the actual events transpired adds to the film's authenticity. From start to finish, "The Counterfeit Traitor" provides suspense and moral choices that can only come from real life.
Crash Dive (1943), Director: Archie Mayo, Running Time: 105 minutes
En route to submarine duty in Washington, naval officer Lt. Stewart (Tyrone Power) meets the enchanting Jean Hewitt (Anne Baxter). He begins a whirlwind courtship, unaware she is already engaged to the commander (Dana Andrews) under whom he is about to serve. Just when both men learn they are in love with the same woman, they are forced to work closely on a dangerous commando raid against Nazi tankers.
Cross of Iron (1976), Director: Sam Peckinpah, Running Time: 132 minutes
A very strong anti-war message film, set during World War II and told entirely from the German perspective. A German Army Sergeant doggedly struggles to keep his platoon intact while surviving the horrors of the Russian front in 1943.