Voices in Wartime

Featured Films-- Modlitba pro Katerinu Horovitzovou to My Mother's Courage


Modlitba pro Katerinu Horovitzovou (1965), Directors: Arnost Lustig and Antonín Moskalyk; Running time: Not available.

A group of wealthy American Jewish businessmen have been captured by the SS and are told that they are to be traded to the American army for several SS officers. However, these hostages are being required to pay bribes for their "transportation costs." In order to ensure that the businessmen will be more cooperative in paying up, a beautiful female singer is placed in their midst as a bargaining chip. The group of hostages are then placed on a train which is supposed to take them to the ship that will deliver them to freedom, but a series of "mishaps" delays their escape. It soon becomes clear that the journey is nothing more than a charade to soak as much money as possible out of the hostages. They arrive at a concentration camp, where the hostages are ordered to disrobe before their entry into the gas chamber. A particularly unpleasant SS officer orders the singer to strip in front of him. Just as the singer appears to move to take off her underwear, she wrestles the officer's gun away from him and starts shooting. That act of defiance brings in a set of guards who murder all of the hostages. (IMDb)


 


Moloch (1999), Director: Aleksandr Sokurov, Running time: 108 minutes.

In an ominous fortress perched high above the clouds, everything seems in order for a reposing 24 hours. It is the spring of 1942 and Eva Braun (Elena Rufanova) is the only voice that dares to contradict the Fuhrer. She gets caught up in the complexities of a man incapable of human intimacy, making her as volcanic as her beloved Hitler (Leonid Mosgovoi).

 

Monsieur Batignole (2002), Director: Gérard Jugnot, Running time: 100 minutes.

In "Monsieur Batignole," a Gentile butcher gets a crash course in Jewish reality when a young escapee neighbor falls into his lap during the summer of 1942. Well-crafted, bittersweet comedy, in which an ordinary fellow in Nazi-occupied France behaves heroically despite himself, zips along with an entertaining and witty blend of close calls.

 

Morituri (1965), Director: Bernhard Wicki, Running time: 124 minutes.

Marlon Brando plays a world-weary, conscientious objector to all wars in the tense, thoughtful Morituri, an adult drama about wartime ethics and the price of commitment to a cause. Brando plays Robert Crain, a German deserter who escaped the Nazis with his fortune intact, happy to be sitting out the battle in British-governed India. His comfort is challenged when an intelligence official (Trevor Howard) essentially blackmails him into going undercover, posing as an SS officer taking passage on a German ship carrying tons of rubber for munitions. Crain's mission is to deliver the ship into Allied hands, but once he's aboard, he becomes a target of derision by the proud, anti-Nazi captain (Yul Brynner) and suspicion by a handful of Resistance members planning to scuttle the voyage. The dramatic irony in this film by German actor-director Bernhard Wicki is that Crain, who claims to take no sides and believes in nothing worth killing for, becomes a catalyst for a great deal of sacrifice and the underscoring of others' convictions with bloodshed. Janet Margolin has a memorable role as a half-mad, Jewish doctor who puts her life on the line to help Crain, and Brynner nearly steals the show in a tremendous performance as a man who has lost faith in everything. Some spectacular scenes give Morituri a certain electricity, including a complicated, unbroken shot taken (one presumes) from a helicopter that swoops in on the ship from a distance to catch a few lines of dialogue and a bit of action. (Tom Keogh for Amazon.com)

 

The Mortal Storm (1940), Director: Frank Borzage, Running time: 100 minutes.

The Nazi Party's rise to power has disastrous consequences for a German family in this drama. Victor Roth (Frank Morgan) is a college professor teaching in Germany in 1933 who leads a peaceful and contented life with his wife Emelie (Irene Rich), son Rudi (Gene Reynolds), daughter Freya (Margaret Sullavan), and stepsons Otto (Robert Stack) and Erich (William T. Orr). However, Adolph Hitler's emergence as Germany's ruler has an unexpected impact on their lives. Fritz (Robert Young) and Martin (James Stewart) both vie for Freya's hand in marriage, but anti-Nazi activist Martin is forced to flee to Austria, while Freya is disturbed by Fritz's membership in a pro-fascist group. Victor repudiates Hitler's theories about Aryan superiority in class, and he not only loses his teaching position, but he is sentenced to a concentration camp. And while Emelie and Rudi join Freya as she tries to escape to Martin's new home in Austria, they find themselves hunted by Otto and Erich, now members of the Hitler Youth. The Mortal Storm was perhaps the most explicitly anti-Nazi film made in Hollywood prior to America's entry into WWII, and it resulted in all of MGM's products being banned in Germany.  (Mark Deming for All Movie Guide)

 

Mosquito Squadron (1970), Director: Boris Sagal, Running time: 90 minutes.

David McCallum ("The Man from U.N.C.L.E.") stars in an epic adventure that perfectly captures the explosive action and emotional torment of war. With its astonishing special effects, stark cinematography and brilliantly choreographed aerial combat sequences, Mosquito Squadron catapults the viewer into the searing heat of battle! As Allied forces struggle against the awesome might of the German Luftwaffe, an even greater threat is posed by the destructive V3 rocket nearing completion at a secret testing center. The Royal Air Force's Mosquito Squadron gears up to destroy the site, but its leader, Quint Monroe (McCallum), becomes conflicted when he discovers that the air strike may kill hundreds of British POWs, including the squad's former commander!

 

Mr. Klein (1976), Director: Joseph Losey, Running time: 122 minutes.

Both a thriller and a Kafkaesque dissertation on identity, Joseph Losey's Mr. Klein stars Alain Delon (Le Samorai, Le Cercle rouge) as Robert Klein—a charming and unscrupulous art dealer in Nazi-occupied France. As Jews flee Paris, Klein exploits them, preying on their desperation by buying their valuables at a fraction of their worth...until he finds his name is shared by a Jewish criminal who is a member of the anti-Nazi resistance. Klein reports this to the authorities only to find he is uncontrollably sinking into the quicksand of mistaken identity. Co-starring Jeanne Moreau (La Femme Nikita), Mr. Klein is an award-winning suspense classic that studies the ever-changing relationship between victim and oppressor.



 

Mrs. Miniver (1942), Director: William Wyler, Running time: 133 minutes.

Winner of six Academy Awards(R) including Best Picture, this memorable spirit-lifter about an idealized England that tends its prize-winning roses while confronting the terror of war struck a patriotic chord with American audiences and became 1942's #1 box-office hit. Greer Garson gives a formidable Oscar(R)-winning performance in the title role, comforting children in a bomb shelter, capturing an enemy parachutist and delivering an inspirational portrait of stiff-upper-lip British resolve. When Hitler did his worst, Mrs. Miniver did her best.

 

Münchhausen (1943), Directed by Josef von Baky, Running time: 101 minutes.

Spectacular film fantasy based on the exploits of the fictional Baron Münchhausen, this escapist extravaganza was commissioned by the Nazi propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels.

 

My Mother's Courage (1996), Director: Michael Verhoeven, Running time: 89 minutes.

The deportation of 4000 jews from Budapest to Auschwitz in July 1944, as told by George Tabori, and how the narrator's mother escaped it, owing to coincidence, courage and some help from where you'd least expect it.

 

Featured Films--The Halls of Montezuma to Hope and Glory


Halls of Montezuma
(1950), Director: Lewis Milestone, Running time: 113 minutes.
Richard Widmark leads an all-star cast of leathernecks (Jack Palance, Robert Wagner, Karl Malden, Richard Boone, and Jack Webb) into battle on a heavily-fortified enemy island. Their objective is a Japanese rocket sit in the island's interior, and the combat-packed story follows the squad from beachhead to battle, as they pick their way trough enemy-infested jungles. Along the way, Widmark is transformed from a former school teacher into a combat-wizened leader, and his disparate squad of men is forged into a cohesive fighting unit.



Hanover Street
(1979), Director: Peter Hyams, Running time: 109 minutes.
Harrison Ford is impossibly young and handsome as an American pilot in the World War II romance Hanover Street; Lesley-Anne Down is stunningly beautiful as the British nurse who falls in love with him, despite being married to British intelligence agent Christopher Plummer. Down and Plummer have a daughter who's so precious and precocious you just want to smack her. The whole thing is almost a camp pastiche of a war romance—but when Ford and Plummer find themselves together behind enemy lines, you'll suddenly discover that you're caught up in the story. Through sheer movie-star charisma and cunningly ridiculous plot mechanics, Hanover Street becomes not only entertaining, but even touching. (Bret Fetzer for Amazon.com)



Hart's War (2002), Director: Gregory Hoblit, Running time: 125 minutes.
Anyone who appreciates subtle tension will enjoy this World War II prison-camp drama, based on John Katzenbach's novel, in which honor, courage, and sacrifice are revealed in unexpected ways. Bruce Willis plays the ranking U.S. prisoner in a Nazi POW camp, joined in December 1944 by a law-student lieutenant (up-and-coming star Colin Farrell) who'd been captured despite his father's powerful military connections. When a black pilot (Terrence Dashon Howard) from the famous Tuskeegee airmen is falsely accused of murdering a fellow prisoner, Farrell tries his case and discovers the real motivation behind Willis's kangaroo court. While combining elements of Stalag 17 and The Great Escape, director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Frequency) spices this moral dilemma with well-crafted suspense and a rousing dogfight sequence, but the human drama remains muted despite fine, understated performances by Willis, Farrell, and Howard. An escape thriller with an ethical twist, Hart's War works best as a study of heroism under extraordinary circumstances.  (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)

 


Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (1957), Director: John Huston, Running time: 106 minutes.
While hiding from a Japanese military offensive on a desolate Pacific Island, a marine sergeant (Mitchum) and his only fellow survivor, an Irish Roman Catholic novitiate on a humanitarian mission (Kerr), search for food, and engage in philosophical sparring.

 

Heimat (1985), Director: Edgar Reitz, Running time: 925 minutes.
Edgar Reitz’s monumental 11-part series Heimat tells the story of Schabbach, a German village in the Hunruck region, from 1919 to 1982. The story unfolds through the eyes of Maria Simon as she marries, raises her sons, and grows old while Germany changes around her. The Simon family, like the rest of the German people, endure the hard times after WWI, struggle with the rise and fall of Nazism and WWII, and then prosper with the rebuilding of the country after the war. Despite the film’s sweeping scope of history, the tone is intimate as Reitz pays attention to the smallest details of daily life—for it is those moment that are the most memorable in retrospect. 

 

Hell in the Pacific (1968), Director: John Boorman, Running time: 101 minutes.
The entire cast of Hell in the Pacific consists of two high-powered international stars: Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. The time is World War II. A downed American marine pilot (Marvin), is stalked on a remote Pacific island by a Japanese navy officer (Mifune). The Japanese officer captures the American, but this situation is reversed when he manages to wriggle free. The two enemies finally decide to live and let live, each moving to their own separate portion of the island. By and by the adversaries come to rely upon one another to survive; they set up living quarters in a deserted camp, get drunk together, and almost -- but not quite -- become friends. The present ending of Hell in the Pacific is greatly at odds with director John Boorman's original vision, in which the Japanese officer angrily kills two Japanese soldiers who have come across the American and decapitated him. As it now stands, viewers are left with an explosive "lady or the tiger" denouement.  (Hal Erickson for All Movie Guide)

 


Heroes of Telemark (1965), Director: Anthony Mann, Running time: 131 minutes.
Set in German-occupied Norway, this is an embellished account of the remarkable efforts of the Norwegian resistance to sabotage the German development of the atomic bomb. Resistance fighter Knut Straud (Richard Harris) enlists the reluctant physicist Rolf Pedersen (Kirk Douglas) in an effort to destroy the German heavy water production plant near the village of Rjukan in rural Telemark. In the process, Pedersen discovers that his ex-wife Anna (Ulla Jacobsen) and her uncle (Michael Redgrave) have also joined the resistance. British commandos dispatched to destroy the plant are killed when their glider hits the mountainside at night. An improvised raid by the resistance ends in the partial destruction of the heavy water canisters, but the contingency plans of Reichskommissar Terboven (Eric Porter) enable the Germans to resume production quickly. Pedersen wants to recommend to London that the Allies bomb the plant. Straud opposes him because of the potential death toll on Norwegian civilians and a fight ensues. They send in separate recommendations, and the air raid takes place, but it fails to destroy the heavy water. A Norwegian traitor gives away the resistance hideout, and Anna's uncle is killed. The Germans load the canisters onto a ferry for shipment to Germany, and the resistance rig explosives to sink the ferry in the fjord. As the ferry is about to leave, it is boarded by the widow and baby of one of Pedersen's and Straud's colleagues. Pedersen boards the ferry and organizes a children's game of "lifejacket" in order to minimize civilian deaths. The film closes with resistance members rescuing passengers as the ferry sinks. (Peter Grosvenor for IMBd)

 


Hiroshima Mon Amour (1960), Director: Alain Resnais, Running time: 90 minutes.
A cornerstone of French cinema, Alain Resnais' first feature is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. Utilizing an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award®-nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Resnais delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish, in this moody masterwork.

 


Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973), Director: Ennio De Concini, Running time: 108 minutes.
Hitler: The Last Ten Days is a 1973 film depicting the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's suicide. It stars Alec Guinness and Simon Ward. The movie opens with Hitler's 56th birthday on April 20, 1945, and ends ten days later, with his suicide on April 30. (Wikipedia)

 


Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003), Director: Christian Duguay, Running time: 186 minutes.
Featuring a star-studded cast, this epic mini-series traces the mind of a burgeoning madman as he begins his ruthless climb to power. From his emergence out of the ashes of World War I through the birth of the Nazi Party, acclaimed actor Robert Carlyle portrays Adolph Hitler in a performance that "conveys the depths of the tyrant’s evil" (San Francisco Chronicle). 

 


Home of the Brave (1949), Director: Mark Robson, Running time: 86 minutes.
Based on the play by Arthur Laurents, this film recounts the story of a young black private who suffered a nervous breakdown.  Peter Moss’condiiton was induced by his experience on a reconnaissance mission during World War II and by a lifetime of racial discrimination.  Crippled by rage and trauma, he has developed psychosomatic paralysis.  But if he can overcome his anger and frustration, he might just walk again.  One of the first bold stances taken on the race issue in Hollywood, though tame by today’s standards, the universal message is obviously still very relevant and worthwhile.

 

Hope and Glory (1987), Director: John Boorman, Running time: 113 minutes.
British writer/director John Boorman (The Emerald Forest) draws us into an astonishing and exhilarating portrait of his own childhood, set against the terrors of a London torn apart by the onset of WWII. Seven-year-old Billy Rohan (Sebastian Rice Edwards) finds his childhood to be atime of great dangerand even greater discovery. From thunderous bombings at his own doorstep andthe constant threat of Luftwaffe air raids to the landing of a German paratrooper in his neighborhood and the joyous obliteration of his much-hated school, Billy's young life is shapedand even enrichedby the one positive thing war has brought him: liberation from the ordinary. And though Billy is surrounded by decimation and the smoking remnants of ruined lives, his sense of enchanted wonderment and innocence in the face of man's most destructive folly affect him in a way that alters his life forever.

 

Featured Films--MacArthur to Midway

MacArthur (1977), Director: Joseph Sargent, Running time: 130 minutes.

This is a biographical and semi-documentary look at the career of General Douglas MacArthur (Gregory Peck) centering on his WWII and Korean War experiences. The movie examines MacArthur's 1942 recall from the Phillipines by Franklin Roosevelt; his triumphant return to liberate the country from the Japanese; his guidance of & influence on the allies' post war policies in Japan; his often volatile & fragile relationship with Harry Truman; and finally his Korean War experiences which resulted in his dismissal from the army by Truman. (E.W. DesMarais for IMDb)

 

A Man Escaped (1956), Director: Robert Bresson, Running time: 102 minutes.

In a genre crowded with quality films, director Robert Bresson's POW drama has become legendary, in part because it strips down the experience of a man desperate to escape to the essentials. That's in keeping with the approach Bresson took with all of his films. The filmmaker, who spent a year in a German prison camp during World War II, based this story on the experiences of Andre Devigny, a French Resistance fighter sent in 1943 to the infamous prison in Lyons, where 7,000 of the 10,000 prisoners housed there died either by natural means or by execution. Lt. Fontaine (Francois Leterrier) is certain that execution awaits him, and he almost immediately begins planning his escape, using homemade tools and ingenuity for detecting the few weaknesses in the prison's structure and routine. For a time, he goes it alone, takes on a partner, but only reluctantly. Fontaine does get some help from a couple of prisoners allowed to stroll in the exercise yard, but for the most part he is a figure in isolation. For Bresson, the process of escape is all, and in simplifying his narrative he ratchets up the tension, creating a film story of survival that many feel is without peer. (Tom Wiener for All Movie Guide)

 

Man in the Middle (1964), Director: Guy Hamilton, Running time: 93 minutes.

Despite its exotic WWII locations, Guy Hamilton's Man in the Middle is a courtroom drama with Robert Mitchum as a military lawyer urged by his superiors to cover up the facts behind a civilian murder committed by a military officer. Set in 1944 India, Mitchum plays a lieutenant colonel assigned to defend American soldier Keenan Wynn after he murders a British civilian; Mitchum quickly discovers that everyone involved in the case, from top general Barry Sullivan to British medical officer Alexander Knox, wants him to fall in line with a rush to execute Wynn and save face, despite his obvious insanity. Mitchum is typically solid in the lead, and the supporting cast, which includes France Nuyen as his semi-love interest and Sam Wanamaker as an army psychiatrist, offer fine performances; Hamilton, who would direct Goldfinger the following year, handles the legal fireworks with finesse. The DVD includes the original trailer as well as a gallery of promotional photographs (which play up the barely-there romance between Mitchum and Nuyen).  (Paul Gaita for Amazon.com)

 

Man of Marble (1976), Director: Andrzej Wajda, Running time: 165 mintues.

Not only is Andrzej Wajda’s award-winning Man of Marble one of the most important films in the history of Polis cinema, it is also one of the most compelling attacks on government corruption ever made. It is a Citizen Kane-styled story where Wajda introduces us to a young woman in Krakow, Agnieszka, who is making her thesis film. She is looking behind the scenes at the life of a 1950s bricklayer, Birkut, who was briefly elevated to the status of a communist hero. She wants to know how his heroism was created and what became of him. She gets a hold of censored footage and interviews with the man’s friends and ex-wife, and the filmmaker who made him a hero. A portrait of Birkut emerges as a man who believed in the socialist ideals, the workers revolution, and in building housing for all. However, the young filmmaker’s hard-driving style and the content of her film unnerve her supervisor, who thinks it’s getting too close to a political nerve. The film project is killed with the excuse she is over budget, but the young filmmaker pushes forward against all odds to finish her film.  

 

The Man Who Never Was (1956), Director: Ronald Neame, Running time: 103 minutes.

Clifton Webb stars in this fascinating account of a daring intelligence operation designed to mislead the Nazis prior to the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. In an effort to convince the Germans to redeploy their defenses, Lt. Commander Montagu (Webb) creates a false English officer and fabricates letters that indicate the British intend to land in Greece. Montagu than plants these documents on a dead man and orchestrates the "discovery" of this "officer" on the coast of Spain, Knowing the papers will fall into German hands. What follows is a taut cat-and mouse game as British Intelligence waits for Berlin to respond, then races to stay one step ahead of the Nazi agent dispatched to determine if the dead man is genuine. This true story of ingenious deception is a riveting tale of wartime espionage.

 

Mediterraneo (1991), Director: Gabriele Salvatores, Running time: 87 minutes.

This 1991 comedy by Gabriele Salvatores was knocked for not being deep enough, but it is what it is, and it's actually an easygoing, sunny movie about eight Italian soldiers who manage to strand themselves on a tiny Greek island paradise during World War II. The sort of mutts who would shoot a donkey for not knowing the proper password, these clumsy warriors become a comic variation on the Lotus Eaters of myth, their fighting spirit evaporated in the midst of so much beauty and sexual availability among the local women. There are also sundry opportunities for the men to find another purpose for their lives (one particularly artistic fellow works on the restoration of a church, for example). Amid the sometimes coarse jokes and gratuitous nudity, there are subtle themes about the contrast between what men are truly like in their natural state versus what they are like as killers. (The Thin Red Line this isn't, but Salvatores does, in his own way, touch on some of the same themes.) Watch this one on a cold winter's day and vicariously enjoy the tans as well as the antiwar sentiment.

 

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Director: Rob Marshall, Running time: 145 minutes.

It's hard to find fault with the fascinating story, which traces a young girl's determination to free herself from the imprisonment of scullery maid to geisha, then from the imprisonment of geisha to a woman allowed to love. Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo), a young girl with curious blue eyes, is sold to a geisha house and doomed to pay off her debt as a cleaning girl until a stranger named The Chairman (Ken Watanabe) shows her kindness. She is inspired to work hard and become a geisha in order to be near the Chairman, with whom she has fallen in love. An experienced geisha (Michelle Yeoh) chooses to adopt her as an apprentice and to use as a pawn against her rival, the wicked, legendary Hatsumomo (Gong Li). Chiyo (played as an older woman by Ziyi Zhang), now renamed Sayuri, becomes the talk of the town, but as her path crosses again and again with the Chairman's, she finds the closer she gets to him the further away he seems. Her newfound "freedom" turns out to be trapping, as men are allowed to bid on everything from her time to her virginity.  (amazon.com)

 

Memphis Belle (1990), Director: Michael Caton-Jones, Running time: 108 minutes.

The "Memphis Belle" is a World War II bomber, piloted by a young crew on dangerous bombing raids into Europe. The crew only has to make one more bombing raid before they have finished their duty and can go home.  In the briefing before their last flight, the crew discovers that the target for the day is Dresden, a heavily-defended town that invariably causes many Allied casualties.

 

Men Behind The Sun (1989), Director: Tun Fei Mou, Running time: 95 minutes.

This is a "voyeuristic insight" into Japanese atrocities that they committed on the Chinese in World War II. They used the Chinese as "guinea pigs in gruesome experiments to create mutated plague bacteria used for bacterial warfare." They claim that the Japanese government wished that this story would not be known and that it will "provoke, anger and sicken." They also say that this film is a "chilling, realistic portrait showing the brutal torture and experimentation that took place in the Japanese terror camps."  This work is extremely graphic.

 

Midway (1976), Director: Jack Smight, Running time: 131 minutes.

The battle of Midway sounded its furious thunder in June 1942, just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. "Midway" interweaves the dramatic personal stories of the men who fought the courageous battle that was to be the Pacific turning point for the United States. The all-star cast also includes Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson and Robert Wagner.

 

Featured Films--Lacombe Lucien to Lucie Aubrac

Lacombe Lucien (1974), Director: Louis Malle, Running time: 138 minutes.

One of the first French films to address the issue of collaboration during the German Occupation, Louis Malle’s brave and controversial Lacombe, Lucien traces a young peasant’s journey from potential Resistance member to Gestapo recruit. At once the story of a nation and one troubled boy’s horrific coming of age, the film is a disquieting portrait of lost innocence and guilt.

 

Laissez-Passer (2002), Director: Bertrand Tavernier, Running time: 165 minutes.

In occupied France, German-run Continental Films calls the shots in the movie business. Assistant director and Resistance activist Jean Devaivre works for Continental, where he can get "in between the wolf's teeth and avoid being chewed up". Fast-living screenwriter Jean Aurenche uses every possible argument to avoid working for the enemy. For both, wartime is a battle for survival.

 

Land Girls (1998), Director: David Leland, Running time: 111 minutes.

During World War II, a new regiment called "Land Girls" was formed in England for recruiting women to work at farms where men left to go to war. Three women of different social backgrounds - quiet Stella, young hairdresser Prue and Cambridge graduate Ag join the Land Girls. (IMDb)

 

Landscape After Battle (1970), Director: Andrzej Wajda, Running time: 101 minutes.

With its breathtaking cinematography, this Andrzej Wajda films is a romantic yet fatalistic fable of budding love and the war that would not end. Based on Tadeusz Borowski’s stories of a German stalag curiously unchanged even after its liberation by the American army, the film tells a powerful love story between two Poles at the end of World War II and portrays the destructive effects of war on the human spirit. When Tadeusz, a sensitive Pole who is fascinated with literature, meets Nina, a girl visiting the war camp, he realizes that he will have to begin his life over again.  

 

The Last Bastion (1984), Director: Chris Thomson, Running time: 160 minutes.

The political battles waged by Australian Prime Minister John Curtin against Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and others during the Second World War are the subject of this docudrama.  (Jason Ankeny for  All Movie Guide)

 

Last Days of Mussolini (1977), Director: Carlo Lizzani, Running time: 129 minutes.

April, 1945: With the Third Reich losing ground in the final months of World War II and the Allies pressing towards Italy, Fascist dictator Mussolini flees the wrath of his own people and heads for Switzerland with his mistress, Clara Petacci. Hunted by both the Americans and the partisans, Mussolini finds all avenues of escape blocked and is swiftly captured by the freedom fighters. Held prisoner on the shores of Lake Como, "Il Duce" and his lover endure a dark night of the soul before answering for their crimes at dawn. 

 

The Last Drop (2005), Director: Colin Teague, Running time: 103 minutes.

What better time for a robbery than under the fog of war! In a daring attempt to end the war by Christmas, the British High Command hatch an extraordinary plan - Operation Market Garden. 35,000 troops are dropped behind enemy lines in German-occupied Holland. In the midst of the largest airborne invasion in history, one small unit of men, codenamed 'Matchbox', has its own hidden agenda. When Matchbox are shot down short of their landing zone, the odds of their success seem hopeless. Seven very different British soldiers find themselves separated from the Allied invasion, on a collision course with three renegade German soldiers who want to lay claim to the hoard. 

 

The Last Escape (1970), Director: Walter Grauman, Running time: 90 minutes.

Captain Lee Mitchell (Stuart Whitman) is the American officer who joins the British in an attempt to smuggle scientist Von Heinken (Pinkas Braun) out of Germany. The group also assists refugees trying to escape the wrath of the Nazis. Mitchell must quickly mold an inexperienced unit of British soldiers into an effective unit before the Russian tank squadron invades Munich. SS troops and Allies engage in fierce combat as both sides try to capture the noted scientist in this World War II drama.

 

The Last Lieutenant (1993), Director: Hans Petter Moland, Running time: 102 minutes.

"The Last Lieutenant" or "Secondløytnanten" as it's called in its original language gives the viewer a good insight in how the World War II was for the Norwegian Army. As a low-ranking officer of the Army-reserve, the main character show up for service as soon as he learns that his country is under attack by a foreign force. The war came as a great surprise to the Norwegian armed forces. As he shows up to start his fight, he first has to fight the bureaucracy to be allowed into the war. As he gets his own unit of poorly-trained and ill-motivated reserve soldiers, he takes the fight to the Germans despite most of the Army being either in chaos or surrendering.  (Erik Evans as posted on Amazon.com)

 

Letters from Iwo Jima (2007), Director: Clint Eastwood, Running time: 140 minutes.

The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester among his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo, a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination.

 

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1945), Director: Emeric Pressburger, Running time: 163 minutes.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's first Technicolor masterpiece, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), transcends its narrow wartime propaganda to portray in warm-hearted detail the life and loves of one extraordinary man. The film's clever narrative structure first presents us with the imposingly rotund General Clive Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesey in his greatest screen performance), a blustering old duffer who seems the epitome of stuffy, outmoded values. But traveling backwards 40 years we see a different man altogether: the young and dashing officer "Sugar" Candy. Through a series of affecting relationships with three women (all played to perfection by Deborah Kerr) and his touching lifelong friendship with a German officer (Anton Wallbrook), we see Candy's life unfold and come to understand how difficult it is for him to adapt his sense of military honor to modern notions of "total war." Notoriously, this is the film that Winston Churchill tried to have banned, and indeed its sympathetic portrayal of a German officer was contentious in 1943, though one suspects that Churchill's own blimpishness was a factor too.  (Mark Walker for Amazon.com)

 

Lifeboat (1944), Director: Alfred Hitchcock, Running time: 96 minutes.

Nominated for three Academy Awards, Alfred Hitchcock's "absorbing brilliantly executed" (Hollywood Reporter) World War II drama, is a remarkable story of human survival. After their ship is sunk in the Atlantic by Germans, eight people are stranded in a lifeboat, among them a glamorous journalist (Tallulah Bankhead), a tough seaman (John Hodiak), a nurse (Mary Anderson) and an injured sailor (William Bendix). Their problems are further compounded when they pick up a ninth passenger - the Nazi captain from the U-boat that torpedoed them. With its powerful interplay of suspense and emotion, this legendary classic is a microcosm of humanity, revealing the subtleties of man's strengths and frailties under extraordinary duress. 

 

Life Is Beautiful (1998), Director: Roberto Benigni, Running time: 116 minutes.

In this extraordinary tale, Guido (Benigni)—a charming but bumbling waiter who's gifted with a colorful imagination and an irresistible sense of humor—has won the heart of the woman he loves and created a beautiful life for his young family. But then, that life is threatened by World War II ... and Guido must rely on those very same strengths to save his beloved wife and son from an unthinkable fate! Honored with an overwhelming level of critical acclaim, this truly exceptional, utterly unique achievement will lift your spirits and capture your heart!

 

The Lion Has Wings (1939), Directors: Michael Powell, Adrian Brunel and Brian Desmond Hurst, Running time: 76 minutes.

A "documentary" style film to praise the R.A.F. at the start of World War II. The 'Michael Powell' touch adds to the stock footage to bring us the people involved in a bomber attack on the Keil Canal and a Spitfire night fighter repulsion of the Nazi bombers.

 

Lion of the Desert (1981), Director: Moustapha Akkad, Running time: 206 minutes.

Under a shaggy Muslim beard, Anthony Quinn stars as Omar Mukhtar, the Arab hero and guerilla fighter who defended Libya against Benito Mussolini and Italy's attempted conquests during World War II. As straightforward biography, the movie's got an admirable epic sweep, but a cliché-ridden script and uniformly bad performances (from a cast that includes John Gielgud, Oliver Reed, and Rod Steiger) make this little more than a curiosity for those wanting to learn more about Libyan history.  (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)  

 

The Long Voyage Home (1940), Director: John Ford, Running time: 104 minutes.

Aboard the freighter Glencairn, the lives of the crew are lived out in fear, loneliness, suspicion and camaraderie. The men smuggle drink and women aboard, fight with each other, spy on each other, comfort each other as death approaches, and rescue each other from danger.

 

The Longest Day (1962), Director: Ken Annakin, Running time: 168 minutes.

This special collector's commemorative edition has been issued in honor of the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of France, which marked the beginning of the end of Nazi domination over Europe. The attack involved 3,000,000 men, 11,000 planes and 4,000 ships, comprising the largest armada the world has ever seen. 

The Longest Day is a vivid, hour-by-hour recreation of this historic event. Featuring a stellar international cast, and told from the perspectives of both sides, it is a fascinating look at the massive preparations, mistakes, and random events that determined the outcome of one of the biggest battles in history. Winner of two 1962 Oscars® (Special Effects and Cinematography), The Longest Day ranks as one of Hollywood's truly great war films. 

 

Lorelei (2005), Director: Shinji Higuchi and Cellin Gluck, Running time: 128 minutes.

A drama set during World War II where a submarine carrying a secret weapon attempts to stop a planned third atomic bombing of Japan. Based on Harutoshi Fukui's novel Shuusen no Lorelei.

 

Lucie Aubrac (1997), Director: Claude Berri, Running time: 115 minutes.

Carole Bouquet stars as Lucie Aubrac, a heroine of the French resistance during World War II. Her husband Raymond (Daniel Auteuil) is a resistance fighter who helps sabotage Nazi trains. At a meeting, he and some compatriots are arrested, but believed to merely be black-marketeers. Lucie secures his release and enables them to fulfill their oath to spend every May 14 together, the anniversary of the first night they made love. The arrest of a resistance leader causes divisions; a meeting called to resolve them is raided, and Raymond is arrested again, along with an important resistance figure known as Max. Raymond endures brutal interrogations but is sentenced to death. With steely determination, Lucie plots to rescue him. 

Lucie Aubrac is part thriller and part romance, but both halves are handled with a subdued discretion that doesn't prevent the movie from being deeply engaging. Meticulous and skillful, director Claude Berri paces his story carefully, paying attention to the details of life in occupied France. The fully developed atmosphere, never overstated, gives just the right frame to Lucie and Raymond's passionate marriage. Auteuil is solid, but it's Bouquet's film; her performance is as low-key as the movie, yet completely compelling and deeply affecting. Based on a true story.  (Bret Fetzer for Amazon.com)

 

Featured Films--Judgment at Nuremberg to Kokoda

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Director: Stanley Kramer, Running time: 186 minutes.

It has been three years since the most important Nazi leaders had already been tried. This trial is about 4 Judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies. Retired American Judge, Judge Dan Haywood has a daunting task ahead of him. The Cold War is heating up and no one wants any more trials as Germany, and allied Governments, want to forget the past.  But is that the right thing to do is the question that the tribunal must decide?

 

Kanal (1957), Director: Andrzej Wajda, Running time: 96 minutes.

The central film of Wajda's war trilogy follows Resistance fighters as they descend into Warsaw's sewer system (or kanaly) to escape the Nazis. Based on actual events during the Warsaw uprising in 1944, "this hallucinating picture is a heartfelt reenactment, taut and penetrating" (Variety).

 

Kokoda (2006), Director: Alister Grierson, Running time: 92 minutes.

Born from a profound desire to tell the story of the forgotten militiamen of the Australian campaign along the Kokoda track in 1942, the film is inspired by the story of a platoon of the 39th battalion. The story visually describes their extraordinary courage, endurance and self sacrifice.

 

Feature Films--I Deal in Danger to Ivan's Childhood

I Deal in Danger (1966), Director: Walter Grauman, Running time: 89 minutes.

Robert Goulet plays David March, an American traitor living in Germany during World War II. Allowed to travel freely within the Nazi hierarchy, March is privy to secrets that would spell his doom were he on "our" side. What the Nazis don't know (but we do) is that March is on our side: he's a secret agent, posing as a turncoat in order to relay Nazi war plans to the allies. His main goal is to destroy a secret weapons factory, but he still has time to romance German scientist Jo Ann Pflug and French chanteuse Christine Carrere. I Deal in Danger was comprised of three half-hour episode of the 1966 TV series Blue Light; the seam work shows at times, but the film runs a lot more smoothly than most such pastiches.  (Hal Erickson for All Movie Guide)

 

Immortal Sergeant (1943), Director: John M. Stahl, Running time: 90 minutes.

Out on patrol in the war-time desert a Canadian corporal reminisces about the woman he has left behind in London and ponders whether she will fall for the charms of his rival in love. At the same time he worries about how he would get on with his outfit if his crack sergeant was not there to guide him. Circumstances combine to give answers to both questions.

 

Indigenes (2006), Director: Rachid Bouchareb, Running time: 119 minutes.

Set during WWII, North African soldiers enlist in the French army and battle their way across Europe to liberate the "fatherland" and confront discrimination.

 

Inglorious Bastards (2009), Director: Quentin Tarantino, Running time: 153 minutes.

In Nazi occupied France, young Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus witnesses the slaughter of her family by Colonel Hans Landa. Narrowly escaping with her life, she plots her revenge several years later when German war hero Fredrick Zoller takes a rapid interest in her and arranges an illustrious movie premiere at the theater she now runs. With the promise of every major Nazi officer in attendance, the event catches the attention of the "Basterds", a group of Jewish-American guerilla soldiers led by the ruthless Lt. Aldo Raine. As the relentless executioners advance and the conspiring young girl's plans are set in motion, their paths will cross for a fateful evening that will shake the very annals of history. Written by The Massie Twins


 

In Harm’s Way (1965), Director: Otto Preminger, Running time: 165 minutes.

A navy man goes out to capture strategic islands held by the Japanese during World War II.  In Harm’s Way was directed by stars John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy.  Academy Award Nominations: Best (Black-and-White) Cinematography.

 

In the Presence of Mine Enemies (1997), Director: Joan Micklin Silver, Running time: 96 minutes.

Rabbi in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland in 1942 fights to maintain his stance of peace and acceptance of his fellow man despite the growing turmoil and atrocities created by the Nazis. Meanwhile his son becomes more militaristic with each new offense and a young German soldier offended by the actions he sees decides to help the rabbi's daughter escape from the Ghetto after she is raped by an officer. (Written by John Sacksteder for IMDb)

 

In Which We Serve (1942), Director: Noël Coward, Running time: 115 minutes.

Based on the true story of Lord Mountbatten's destroyer, In Which We Serve is one of the most memorable British films made during World War II. Unfolding in flashback as survivors cling to a dingy, the film interweaves the history of HMS Torrin with the onshore lives of its crew. The 1942 film was the inspiration of Noel Coward, who desperately wanted to do something for the war effort, and he produced, wrote the screenplay, composed the stirring score, and starred as Captain Edward Kinross. Coward also officially co-directed, though he handed the reigns to David Lean (in his directorial debut). There is fine support from Celia Johnson and John Mills, as well as a star-making debut from an uncredited Richard Attenborough. The use of real navy and army personnel as extras, together with lavish studio production and authentic shipboard location footage, lends the film an unusual sense of realism. A landmark in the careers of many of the most important names in British film, this moving and occasionally harrowing classic has a vital place in the development of British cinema. (Gary S. Dalkin for Amazon.com)

 

Island at War (2005), Director: Peter Lydon, Running time: 398 minutes.

In the only part of Britain occupied by the Nazis during WWII, the nightmare began in June 1940. Hitler's army invaded the defenseless Channel Islands and held its residents hostage for five years. What would any of us do if we had to live side by side with the enemy? This Masterpiece Theatre drama draws on the real experiences of Channel Islanders as the hostile Nazi command imposed its will on every aspect of their daily lives. Set on the fictional island of St. Gregory, the story of the occupation is told through the eyes of three families. Heart-pounding suspense and unexpected romance unfold in an atmosphere suffused with the moral ambiguity of war. Starring James Wilby (Gosford Park), Clare Holman (Prime Suspect 6), Philip Glenister (Calendar Girls), and Saskia Reeves (Dune). 

 

Is Paris Burning? (1966), Director: René Clément, Running time: 172 minutes.

This big-budget, star-studded epic 1966 French film features well-known actors from both Europe and America in the story of the final battles over the liberation of Paris at the end of the Second World War. Is Paris Burning? tells the story from all perspectives, from the Nazis to the French resistance, allowing for star turns and cameos from an illustrious group of actors, including Jean-Paul Belmondo (Breathless), Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Orson Welles (The Third Man), Leslie Caron, Glenn Ford, Charles Boyer, Anthony Perkins, and many others. As the members of the resistance fight for control of the city, the Nazis order the commander in Paris (Gert Fröbe) to burn the city if the resistance gains the upper hand. Written for the screen by author Gore Vidal and filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, director René Clément's film hearkens back to the star-filled epics of America's heyday while retaining a modern French sensibility.  (Robert Lane for Amazon.com)

 

Ivan's Childhood (1963), Director: Andrei Tarkovsky, Running time: 95 minutes.

The debut feature from the great Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood is an evocative, poetic journey through the shadows and shards of one boy’s war-torn youth. Moving back and forth between the traumatic realities of WWII and the serene moments of family life before the conflict began, Tarkovsky’s film remains one of the most jarring and unforgettable depictions of the impact of violence on children in wartime.  

 

Featured Films--The Garden of the Finzi Continis to Guns of Naverone

The Garden Of The Finzi Continis (1971), Director: Vittorio De Sica, Running time: 90 minutes.

Set in northern Italy's Ferrara community at the outbreak of World War II, this classic film by Vittorio De Sica concerns an old, aristocratic Jewish family, the Finzi-Continis, who maintain their isolated, idyllic ways within the stone walls of their lush estate while Mussolini imprisons Jews outside. The story's central figure, young Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio), is a middle-class Jew who has always found perfect sanctuary within the Finzi-Continis' walls and who is in love with his childhood friend from that family, Micol (Dominique Sanda). Micol, however, is sexually restless and fit to burst for want of experiences impossible under government oppression. As Giorgio suffers his estrangement from her, De Sica traces the disintegration of a lost and beautiful way of life, slowly turning his focus from the privileged refuge of tennis courts and private libraries to police barriers and rooms where Jews await transport to concentration camps. This powerful work of memory tragically captures a loss of innocence on both the most personal and historical stages. (Tom Keogh for Amazon.com)  

 

A Generation (1955), Director: Andrzej Wajda, Running time: 85 minutes.

A Generation, the first film in Wajda's unplanned war trilogy (Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds), began a Polish film renaissance that would later include filmmakers Jerzy Skolimowski and Roman Polanski (who is featured in the cast)-Wajda, who fought for the Resistance during World War II, offers a strikingly unsentimental appraisal of heroism in the tale of a cocky Polish youth who decides to fight the Nazis after he falls for a pretty Resistance leader. Barely out of their teens, he and his brash friends, approach their first mission-to help escapees during the Warsaw ghetto uprising-like a game of cops and robbers. Inevitably, the game turns deadly and the innocence of a generation is lost under the grueling conditions of war. With its unflinching realism, Wajda's first feature film set the tone for his many powerful works (Danton, Man of Marble, A Love in Germany).  

 

The Gleiwitz Case (1961), Director: Gerhard Klein, Running time: 70 minutes.

Re-enacted true story of successful assault by Nazis, posing as Poles, on a German border radio station so that Hitler could "justify" thereby his invasion of Poland.  

 

The Great Escape (1963), Director: John Sturges, Running time: 172 minutes.

Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist type prisoners of war are all put in an 'escape proof' camp. Their leader decides to try to take out several hundred all at once. The first half of the film is played for comedy as the prisoners mostly outwit their jailers to dig the escape tunnel. The second half is high adventure as they use boats and trains and planes to get out of occupied Europe.

 

The Great Raid (2005), Director: John Dahl, Running time: 133 minutes.

As World War II rages, the elite 6th Ranger Battalion is given a mission of heroic proportions: push 30 miles behind enemy lines and liberate over 500 American prisoners of war. Under the command of Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, the men of the 6th will face the unthinkable by attempting the impossible! 

 

Go For Broke (1951),  Director: Robert Pirosh, Running time: 92 minutes.

They were the 442nd Regimental Combat Team... a squad of loyal, Japanese-Americans who had to battle prejudice as well as the Axis enemy. Van Johnson stars as their contemptuous top-kick, whose bigotry gives way to respect in the crucible of war. Supporting Johnson is a cast of veterans, all former members of the highly decorated 442nd, whose battle cry, "Go For Broke!" means, "Shoot the works!"

 

Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg (1990), Director: Kjell Grede, Running time: 115 minutes.

This historical drama chronicles the struggle of Swedish businessman Raoul Wallenberg (Stella Skarsgard), as he fought valiantly to save the lives of the Jewish residents of Nazi-occupied Budapest.  (Iotis Erlewine for All Movie Guide)

 

The Grey Zone (2001), Director: Tim Blake Nelson, Running time: 108 minutes.

The title of Tim Blake Nelson's harrowing drama of Jewish death camp prisoners who rise up against their captors to "destroy the machinery" refers as much to the compromise and cloudy morality of collaboration as to the gray world coated in the smoke and ash of the crematoriums. Inspired by real-life events at the Auschwitz death camp, The Grey Zone stars David Arquette as a soul-deadened laborer whose being fiercely jolts to life when he finds a young girl alive among the gassed corpses. He's the heart and soul of an outstanding cast that includes Steve Buscemi and Daniel Benzali as revolt leaders, Allan Corduner as the shunned camp doctor, and Harvey Keitel as the commandant. Nelson's rapid pacing, intimate shooting, and terse, jagged dialogue give the moral debate a discomforting immediacy as it races a deadline. When doom hangs in the air, sure death creates unique priorities.  (Sean Axmaker for Amazon.com) 

 

Gung Ho!,

Guadalcanal Diary (1943), Director: Lewis Seiler, Running time: 93 minutes.

One of the greatest war movies of all time, combining action-packed, high-caliber battle sequences with quintessential foxhole-buddy camaraderie. Released in 1943, its authenticity and power remain undiminished. 

The story follows one squad of Marines through the bloody assaults on the Solomon Islands during the opening stages of the war in the South Pacific. There's the tough sergeant (Lloyd Nolan), a cab driver from Brooklyn (William Bendix), a Mexican (Anthony Quinn) and a chaplain (Preston Foster). A battle-weary narrator reads from a diary, commenting on the typical grunt's everyday life, and death. Battles and dates of engagement are named, putting the explosive action into a solid historical context.

 

 

Gung Ho! (1943), Director: Ray Enright, Running time: 88 minutes.

Seven weeks after Pearl Harbor, volunteers form the new 2nd Marine Raider Battalion whose purpose is to raid Japanese-held islands. The men selected come from different walks of life but have toughness in common. Under command of Colonel 'Thorwald', they're trained in all imaginable forms of combat. Then, after a perilous submarine journey, they face a daunting first mission: to annihilate the much larger Japanese garrison on Makin Island, in a lengthy battle sequence.   (Rod Crawford for IMBd)

 

Guns at Batasi (1964), Director: John Guillermin, Running time: 103 minutes.

Two-time Oscar winner Richard Attenborough stars as a dedicated British soldier caught in the midst of a revolution in Africa in this compelling war drama. Co-starring Mia Farrow (in her film debut), Guns at Batasi is “an intriguing, thought-provoking (Hollywood Citizen-News) and rousing tale!” (The New Yorker) 

When the head of the British military in Africa is instructed to turn over command to the native militia, he defies orders and arms himself and his followers with a cache of weapons. When Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale (Attenborough) learns of this defiance, he springs into action with all the authority at his command, knowing full well that he’s the only thing that stands between order and massacre! 

 

Guns of Naverone (1961), Director: J. Lee Thompson, Running time: 157 minutes.

Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and David Niven are Allied saboteurs assigned an impossible mission: infiltrate an impregnable Nazi-held island and destroy the two enormous long-range field guns that prevent the rescue of 2,000 trapped British soldiers. Blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman (High Noon,The Bridge on the River Kwai) was determined to re-establish both his name and credibility after spending most of the 50's working in anonymity. To accomplish this, he decided to bring Alistair MacLean's best-selling novel, The Guns of Navarone, to the screen. Supported by an all-star cast and produced on a grand scale, the film was an enormous success, receiving seven 1961 Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) and winning for Best Special Effects. 

 

Featured Films--The Fallen to From Hell to Victory

The Fallen (2004), Director: Ari Taub, Running time: 120 minutes.

The Fallen is a three-sided story about German, Italian, and American soldiers, set in Northern Italy during the final weeks of the World War II. On the one side, a group of American supply soldiers delivers ammunition to the front line, a journey that becomes a descent into hell, the success of the mission becomes less likely with every setback. On the other, a doomed German unit and their ragtag Italian partners struggle to maintain morale and discipline amongst their beleaguered troops in the face of certain defeat. Torn between these are the divided loyalties of the Italians, both fascist soldiers and communist partisans, who have turned brother against brother in a bloody civil war. The film looks at the everyday life of the soldiers, their encounters on the road, their hopes and dreams, and the differences in values, morals, and patriotism between the cultures at the end of that era. (Written by Ari Taub for IMBd)

 


Farewell to Manzanar (1976), Director: John Korty, Running time: 120 minutes.

Fact based drama about one of the internment camps used by the American military during World War II to detain some 100,000 Japanese Americans (most of them U.S. born) following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. (Eugene Kim for IMDb)

 

Fat Man and Little Boy (1989), Director: Roland Joffé, Running time: 126 minutes.

Despite the combined star power in front of and behind the camera, Fat Man and Little Boy is a largely tepid retelling of the history of the Manhattan Project, the atomic testing project that led to the U.S. bombing of Japan during World War II (said bombs were dubbed "Fat Man" and "Little Boy"). The Nevada-based project is headed by General Leslie R. Groves (a testy Paul Newman) and scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz of the TV series The A-Team), who later regretted his cooperation in the project. The problem with the film lies not with the acting, which includes solid performances by Bonnie Bedelia, Laura Dern, John Cusack, and future U.S. Senator Fred Dalton Thompson, but with the script by director Roland Joffé and Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I and Joffé's The Killing Fields). A subject as morally complex as the creation of a supreme weapon requires a strong and thoughtful script, but Fat Man and Little Boy never gets further than establishing that indeed, atomic power is something to reckon with. Joseph Sargent's 1989 made-for-TV film Day One, with Brian Dennehy as Groves and David Straithairn as Oppenheimer, covers the same story with twice the depth and avoids the pitfall of a romantic subplot (Oppenheimer's dalliance with a communist played by Natasha Richardson), which this film stumbles into. Cusack's doomed scientist is actually a combination of two real-life physicists, Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotkin, who died from radiation poisoning, albeit long after V-J Day.  (Paul Gaita for Amazon.com) 

 

Father Goose (1964), Director: Ralph Nelson, Running time: 118 minutes.

During World War II South Sea beachcomber Walter Eckland is persuaded to spy on planes passing over his island. He gets more than he bargained for as schoolteacher Catherine Frenau arrives on the run from the Japanese with her pupils in tow! 

 

The Fighting Rats of Tobruk (1945), Director: Charles Chauvel, Running time: 71 minutes.

An Englishman and two Australians are sent to North Africa to fight side-by-side in the major battles that help Australia capture Tobruk. The Germans with hordes of tanks and infantry are defeated in some of the most incredible battles of World War II.

 

The Fighting Seabees (1944), Director: Edward Ludwig, Running time: 100 minutes.

All-American hero John Wayne takes a crew of construction workers and turns them into one of WWII's toughest fighting forces in this action-packed war classic. But first he has to convince the army brass to let his civilians bear arms, and then he's got to whip them into combat shape. Now Wayne is fighting for his life on a different battlefield when he's brought up on court-martial charges for leading his troops in an all-out assault against the Japanese. It's Wayne at his best, playing the kind of rough-and-tumble man of honor that made him a legend and Hollywood's biggest star. 

 

Five Boys from Barska Street (1954), Director: Aleksander Ford, Running time: 112 minutes.

After a five-year absence from the Polish film industry (he spent the time as head of the prestigious Lodz film school), director Aleksander Ford made a triumphant return with Five from Barksa Street. Essentially a juvenile-delinquent drama, the film records the trials and tribulations of five street kids who rebel against the exigencies of the recent war and the economic deprivations of the postwar era. Though they've been given a pass by a compassionate parole officer, the boys return to their life of petty crime. Eventually, however, they become worthwhile members of "the state" by turning against a nasty gangster boss. Despite its propagandistic overtones, Five from Barska Street is a vivid and realistic slice-of-life melodrama, and as such completely worthy of its 1954 Cannes Film Festival award.  (Hal Erickson for All Movie Guide)

 

Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Director: Clint Eastwood, Running time: 132 minutes.
February 1945. Even as victory in Europe was finally within reach, the war in the Pacific raged on. One of the most crucial and bloodiest battles of the war was the struggle for the island of Iwo Jima, which culminated with what would become one of the most iconic images in history: five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The inspiring photo capturing that moment became a symbol of victory to a nation that had grown weary of war and made instant heroes of the six American soldiers at the base of the flag, some of whom would die soon after, never knowing that they had been immortalized. But the surviving flag raisers had no interest in being held up as symbols and did not consider themselves heroes; they wanted only to stay on the front with their brothers in arms who were fighting and dying without fanfare or glory.

 

Flying Tigers (1942), Director: David Miller, Running time: 101 minutes.

John Wayne plays the tough commander of Flying Tigers, the famous fighter squadron that fought to save China from the Japanese. Wayne finds he is fighting a war on two fronts: he's taking on the enemy with only a handful of inexperienced men and patched-up planes while keeping a cocky new pilot from stealing his girl. The story has little in common with real history, and lots of classic post-Pearl Harbor propaganda fills the script. Regardless, the movie is all Wayne's, and Wayne fans will enjoy seeing the prototype for what would become the Duke's trademark portrayal of the military fighting man. 

Although the pressure of making life-and-death decisions in wartime may be more maturely explored in Twelve O'Clock High, Flying Tigers still has enough characterization and action to keep the viewer's attention (not to mention special effects by the pioneering Howard Lydecker). (Mark Savary for Amazon.com) 

 

Force 10 from Naverone (1978), Director: Guy Hamilton, Running time: 244 minutes.

This is supposed to be a sequel to the movie, Guns Of Navarone. In this version the roles of Mallory and Miller, who were played by Gregory Peck and David Niven, are now being played Robert Shaw and Edward Fox. It seems that there was traitor with them at Navarone, whom they thought was executed. But it seems that not only was he not executed, and he was not a traitor but a German spy. Whom intelligence believes made it Yugoslavia and is now with the Partisans. So, Mallory and Miller being the only ones who can positively identify him, are sent along with a unit called Force 10, which is led by Colonel Barnsby, who objects to their presence. It seems that Force 10 has a mission of their own which Mallory and Miller know nothing about. When their plane is shot and most of the team is killed, they mistakenly believe that some of the locals they meet are Partisans but in reality are German Allies, so they are taken prisoner, and have to convince the German commander that they are not spies or else they will be killed.

 


Foyle’s War (2003-2007), Four Part Series, Running time: approximately 400 per series. 

The series begins in 1940 as Britain stands alone against the might of Nazi Germany across the continent. The terrors of nightly bombing raids are only matched by the fear and hysteria of the population at the prospect of the seemingly inevitable German invasion. It is in this environment that Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle, of the Hastings Police on the south coast of England, works. Denied a transfer to the war effort, Foyle is nonetheless forced to confront the darkest acts of humanity on a daily basis. With his official driver, Sam, and his subordinate, Paul Milner, Foyle investigates murders, looting and theft, crimes of opportunism, crimes of war, crimes of passion and crimes of greed—because crime isn't stopped because of warfare.

 

 

Freedom Radio (1941), Director: Anthony Asquith, Running time: 95 minutes.

Hitler's doctor is gradually realizing that the Nazi regime isn't as good as it pretends to be when his friends start to "disappear" into the camps. His wife is courted by the party and accepts a political post in Berlin. Meanwhile Dr. Karl decides to try to do something to counteract the Nazi propaganda and with the help of an engineer and a few friends he sets up the Freedom Radio to counteract the Nazi propaganda.  (Steve Crook for IMDb)

 

The Frogman (1951), Director: Lloyd Bacon, Running time: 96 minutes.

World War II drama in which Richard Widmark, as Lt. Cmdr. John Lawrence, replaces the popular commanding officer of a group of underwater demolition divers, a crew of fiercely independent studs who hang their proverbial hats in Davy Jones' locker. The martinet Lawrence tightens the discipline of the unit, making him mucho unpopular with the macho frogmen. Finally, Lawrence proves himself as more than just a stuffed white shirt, showing he has the will to keep up with their peculiar brand of the Jones, becoming one of the team by fearlessly defusing a live torpedo at the risk of his own life.

 

From Hell to Victory (1979), Director: Umberto Lenzi, Running time: 101 minutes.

On August 24, 1939, at a small French cafe, six friends are about to go their separate ways. They vow to reunite on that day each year at the cafe. The film follows each of their lives: one begins work with the French resistance, one joins the French commandos, another is forced to join the Nazi army, one becomes a flier, and the two others are just simple officers.



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