War

[7] Fredric March and Cary Grant play American pilots fighting for Britain during the first World War. The two men frequently quarrel, each coming from a different wartime philosophy. March does his best to avoid killing anyone, while Grant is out to kill any German that crosses his path. The film encourages us to empathize with both men, whose destinies entangle after Grant’s bloodlust contributes …

[6] British men and women are held captive in segregated prison camps under the rule of a sadistic Japanese commander who vows to kill them all if Japan loses World War II. When the Brits secretly learn of the war’s end, they have to keep their Japanese torturers from finding out. They sabotage radio equipment and attempt to delay the mail. But when an American …

[6] George Cukor directs Katharine Hepburn as Jo March in one of the earliest screen adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a chronicle of the lives and loves of four sisters growing up in New England during the Civil War. There’s intrinsic nostalgia and sentimentality to the storytelling, but Cukor never lets the film become maudlin. That’s largely owed to Hepburn’s contribution. The then-controversial …

[7.0] Spencer Tracy stars as Major Richard Rogers, leader of an elite force of men who traversed the wilderness and engaged with enemies during the French and Indian War. The film is seen through the eyes of two new recruits, played by Walter Brennan and Robert Young. The first half of the film is a survival story, with the dwindling troops fighting wildlife, treacherous terrain, …

[6.0] William Wellman’s (Wings, The Ox-Bow Incident) final film is also his most autobiographical, combining his experiences as an American volunteer in the French Legion during World War I with the experiences of a friend who fell in love with a French sex worker. Lafayette Escadrille stars Tab Hunter as the pilot in love, an unruly youth who deserts the Legion and then fights to …

[7] Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M) directs this adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel about a British man (Ray Milland) recently released from an insane asylum who gets caught up in a Nazi attempt to smuggle sensitive information out of England during World War II. Lang brings a lot of style and paranoia to the film, particularly in two strong opening sequences. The first begets a mystery …

[6.0] Cary Grant and Claude Rains star as British officers whose paths cross time and again on the Eastern front of World War I. The two become friends after Rains saves Grant from Kurdish raiders. Grant then goes on to help Rains move a village to safety and prevent a sneak attack on British troops. The friends part for much of the second act, during …

[7.0] Maltese Falcon cast mates Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet reunite with director John Huston for this wartime espionage flick. Bogart plays a dishonorably discharged army captain who catches passage on a Japanese steamboat headed for the Panama Canal. While on board, Bogey strikes up interesting and entertaining relationships with two other passengers played by Astor and Greenstreet. None of the characters seem …

[5.0] George C. Scott’s charisma is the best thing Patton has going for it. The film is a pastiche of the famous (and infamous) army general’s career through World War II, including his successful invasion of Sicily, media blunders resulting in military reprimand, and his eventual aid in the fall of the Third Reich. The film initially paints Patton as a hard-ass who gets the …

[8.0] Writer/director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns bring us back to the trenches of World War I with the harrowing journey of two British officers tasked with traversing enemy territory to deliver a message that will save 1,600 of their fellow soldiers from certain death — including one of the young men’s brothers. 1917 is compelling on two different levels, infusing …

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