Monday, May 30, 2011

In Remembrance: Five WW2 Movies You Might Not Have Seen

There's a reason War is perhaps the greatest sub-genre of all of cinema. It represents us at our most ideological, raw, and violent nature. From that intensity, films of all walks of life, political persuasion, and theological desire, have been born. Given, World War 2 has become the focal point of so many of our cinematic endeavors. So much so that many war films of equal, or worthwhile measure, get lost in the onslaught of big names, and bigger ideals. But they are no worse for wear because of this, and deserve their moment in the light all the same.

Battleground (1949)
Directed By: William A. Wellman
Starring: Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, Marshall Thompson, and James Whitmore

In a time where men were men and soldiers were soldiers, this gem of the World War 2 era reminds us that nothing is ever as clear cut as it seems. Blending a sentiment towards the violence of war that would not become prevalent in cinema for decades to come, with a comical heroic initiative of the time, Battleground an engrossing, and refreshingly honest War film.

Days of Glory - a.k.a Indigenes (2006)
Directed By:Rachid Bouchared
Starring: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Roschdy Zem, and Sami Bouajila

It is easy to generalize World War 2 to containing solely men of Europe and Japan, and the Asian isles. However, with that comes the forgotten sacrifices made by so many whose war it was not to fight, but were called to arms all the same. Such is the tale of the men of North Africa, and Days of Glory serves in their honor.

Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
Directed By: Henry King
Starring: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, and Gary Merrill

Just how far can men be pushed before they reach the edge of their wits? Especially when they spend their days trapped in the confinement of a bomber with bullets and explosions surrounding them on all sides. Such is the dilemma facing young General Frank Savage (Peck). Put in charge of a platoon of pilots without the discipline to know up from down, he must save not only the sanctity of the air battalion, but hearts and minds of all the men who fight within it.

Come and See (1985)
Directed By: Elem Klimov
Starring: Aleksei Kravchenko, Olga Mironova

There is nothing beautiful about war. Better put, there is nothing beautiful about the souls that find themselves trapped in a sea of bloodshed. Thus Klimov's examination of the atrocities experienced by those surrounded on all sides by war, is as prevalent now as it ever was then. Lacking hope, Come and See is part psychological war epic, part horror film, all overlapping in a single shot as iconic as any war which came before, or after it.

To Hell and Back (1955)
Directed By: Jesse Hibbs
Starring: Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, and Charles Drake

It might seem self serving to some to have an actor play himself in the story of his own life. But when you add to that the sheer innocence of look that Audie Murphy carried through every role, it is easy to forget he remains one of the most decorated soldiers of all time. Thus To Hell and Back remains a powerful and engrossing look at the consequences of being a hero. The loss of always being a survivor. And the solemn heart that traverses through the memory of each soldier who lived to see another day.

Editor's Note:
The Monday Corner will return tomorrow alongside the Obligatory DVD Release Post. Have a nice day!

11 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Oddly enough, I'd like to suggest THE THIN RED LINE as a For Your Consideration.

At pub night last week, i sat surrounded by seven well-read movie geeks (or whetever the film watching equivelent is for "well read"), and six of the seven had never seen it.

That said - these are some solid looking titles and I'm looking forward to tracking some down!

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

I knew you'd include a Soviet film in this list.

Univarn said...

@Mad I had thought of including the thin red line as an honorable mention. It didn't make the list because of the 60k+ votes it has on imdb (the catch all factor for the list) - which is greater than all the above listed combined.

@Lesya Is that a bad thing? I gave no thought to any politics when compiling the list - if I did it would have defeated the purpose.

Castor said...

Great picks Univarn! I have only seen Come and See, that's one eerily F'ed up movie...

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

I didn't say it was a bad thing. I just had a thought that you might have included a soviet film and wanted to express my happiness that I guessed it right.

Shubhajit said...

I've seen Days of Glory. So it isn't 0 out of 5 for me :)

Anonymous said...

How did you know? Seen none of these, but I'm not a fan of earlier war films. I was bored endlessly by The Longest Day and Sergeant York. Still, I should probably check some out.

Also, I think a lot of people have seen The Thin Red Line and it's one of the more well known war movies of recent years.

Univarn said...

@Castor I think "Come and See" falls into that odd world were nobody can really 'like' the movie, so much as be captivated by it.

@Lesya Gotcha, just wanted to make sure. Congrats on your acute prediction.

@Shubhajit Way to go!

@CinemaSights I enjoy Longest Day, but I can imagine it being tedious. Sergeant York I loved the first time I watched it... not so much the second time.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've seen two of them, but the other three are new to me. Thanks, got some new movies to check out.

Marc said...

Been a long time fan of 12 O' Clock High, good call on that one Uni!

2 more I like that don't get enough attention are Saints and Soldiers and Run Silent, Run Deep.

Eric said...

Very appropriate list for Memorial Day. I haven't seen any of these, although Days of Glory has been in my Netflix queue for a while now. Thanks for the recommendations.

Related Posts with Thumbnails