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.