World War II

[4.5] Burt Lancaster stars in this fictionalized account of the Nazis’ attempt to abscond with France’s most treasured paintings before the Allied Forces meet up with them. It’s up to Lancaster, playing a Resistance train station master, to head up an elaborate plan to dupe the Nazis and stop the train from leaving France without damaging it’s precious cargo. I love the idea of Resistance …

[7.0] This isn’t the romanticized WWII of modern cinema, it’s probably closer to the real thing. The Story of G.I. Joe is based on print journalist Ernie Pyle’s interviews with soldiers in the field. Pyle was in the foxholes with them, and he was in it for the long haul. His newspaper column became the public’s window into life on the battlefield. William Wellman’s (The …

[6.5] There is at least a certain amount of fun to be had in watching Clint Eastwood pump lead into Nazis. Where Eagles Dare is about a group of Allied forces trying to raid a Nazi stronghold to rescue a captured General who knows the secret plans of D-Day. The film tries very hard to be The Guns of Navarone (they’re both written by Alistair MacLean). …

[6.0] Richard Attenborough (Gandhi, Chaplin) reenacts the elaborate but doomed Operation Market Garden, a World War II strategy the Allied Forces valiantly attempted to execute in order to defeat German Forces in the Netherlands. A Bridge Too Far is a three-hour Cliffs Notes version of a historical event, largely plot-driven, with a lot of cross-cutting storylines being juggled at all times. The all-star cast get little …

[7.5] Christopher Nolan serves up a wartime survival flick about Allied soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, while the German army surrounds them. The water was so shallow, warships couldn’t pick up the troops, so loading the hundreds of thousands of soldiers was simply impossible. But the battle later became known as ‘The Miracle of Dunkirk,’ as hundreds of civilian boats came to the military’s …

[7.0] William Holden leads an ensemble cast in Billy Wilder’s adaptation of Stalag 17. The film takes place entirely in a German prisoner-of-war barrack, where the captured Americans are beginning to suspect that Holden’s pessimistic black marketeer character may be informing on them to the Germans. But Holden knows better — that there’s a German spy planted in their midst, secretly thwarting all their chances …

[7.0] Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Turkish Delight) draws upon his memories growing up in 1940s war-torn Holland for this adaptation of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema’ autobiography. When the Nazi’s occupied the Netherlands, Roelfzema and several classmates left college to join the resistance. Soldier of Orange begins with fraternity initiation, shortly before war was declared. Rutger Hauer plays Roelfzema’s alter-ego, Erik, who spends the first half of the picture …

[4.0] How’s this for an ensemble? Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor, Gavin MacLeod, and Donald Sutherland. If you can’t imagine how that would work, neither can anyone else whose seen this movie. Kelly’s Heroes tries to be both a ‘guys on a mission’ adventure movie and a satirical comedy. It should have committed to the former and given up on its M.A.S.H.-like …

[6.5] Errol Flynn gives a low-key performance as a dedicated flight surgeon who teams with a bitter pilot (Fred MacMurray) to solve the problem of high altitude sickness and blackouts among Navy dive bombers. Despite the pre-WWII setting, this is more of a straight-forward drama built around the turbulent-turned-respectful relationship between Flynn’s and MacMurray’s characters. The only thing that bugged me about the movie is …

[6.0] Henry Fonda is caught between a beleaguered WWII cargo crew and their vindictive captain in this oddly cheerful, lightweight drama directed by John Ford and Mervyn Leroy. James Cagney hams it up as the nutcase captain while William Powell makes a graceful big screen exit as the ship’s doctor. Jack Lemmon won the first of his two Oscars for his supporting role as an …

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