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The Best War Movies, in Alphabetical Order

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  • The Best War Movies, in Alphabetical Order

    In this thread, I will offer my opinion on the best movie for each letter of the alphabet. This is not a poll. I am not soliciting suggestions. What I would like is alternatives, after I have posted for each letter. And, of course, you can agree or disagree. Let's get started.

    For the letter A, I have chosen an unsurprising title, but a surprising version. "All Quiet on the Western Front" is based on the most famous war novel. The 1930 version is considered by many to be the greatest war movie ever made. It follows Paul Baumer and his German mates in the trenches in France. It is a deft mix of trench life, combat, and even a trip to a hospital and a leave at the home front. It is one of the definitive war movies. The original was amazing when it was released, but has the limitations of silent movie style overacting. I chose the 1979 version because aside from the inferior battle scenes (mainly due to it being a made-for-TV movie), it is superior in most other areas. And it covers the book better. If you don't believe me, watch the scene in both movies where Baumer is caught in the shell hole with the dying Frenchman. And, in general, compare the performances of Lew Ayres and Richard Thomas. Thomas is clearly the better Baumer. Speaking of which, the cast of the 1979 version is solid with Ernest Borgnine standing out as Katczinsky. You're going to notice in this thread that "best" does not necessarily mean "greatest" and this is the perfect example.

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  • #2
    For "B" I propose Beau Geste with Garry Cooper. I watched it when I was five years old, and then got the brilliant idea to court marshal the new kittens at my fathers grain elevator.....
    By putting out cat chow in bowls I was able to attract a jury of 'peers', or adult cats, anyway. I then convicted the kittens of ' abandoning their posts and going AWOL, or some such- an easy charge to nail any cat on. The kittens were sentenced to twenty minutes in a three foot deep culvert, covered with a screen.....
    I then convicted the jury of " not paying attention to the Judge " and ' eating lunch without clearance,'( or some such) . I did manage to intercept two cats and lock them up with the Kittens . The rest of the jury kind of drifted off to - a safe distance.

    Unknown to me, my father was watching behind me. He freed all the cats. The two adult cats took off in five different directions, while the kittens ran to my baby sister.

    Military justice , meted out on the spot , was a quick spanking from my father, along with
    " If you don't stop teasing those damn cats they are going to go wild!!...."
    Last edited by marktwain; 14 Jul 19, 09:10. Reason: I never court martialed kittens again.....
    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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    • #3
      How about "Bataan", "Battlecry"? or the "Boys in Company B"?

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by warmoviebuff View Post
        Speaking of which, the cast of the 1979 version is solid with Ernest Borgnine standing out as Katczinsky.
        I do remember being impressed with Borgnine in that film, although Thomas did not leave a lasting impression with me.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
          How about "Bataan", "Battlecry"? or the "Boys in Company B"?

          Pruitt
          Ok ,I'll withdraw Beau Geste in favor of Bataan….
          The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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          • #6
            B for me would be Battle of Britain for personal reasons (watched it with my dad and my grandfather who was in the actual battle and chipped in with some great observations!)

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            • #7
              B - Das Boot (The Boat)

              There are a lot of good war movies that start with the letter B, including some suggested earlier. My B selection is the gold standard for submarine movies. It is a realistic portrayal of a u-boat cruise mid-war. The movie does not sugarcoat the experiences a typical crew went through. You won't be surprised to learn that the u-boat service had an incredibly high mortality rate. The acting is great and the claustrophobic cinematography is amazing. It avoids most of the standard sub cliches. No movie does a better job putting you on a WWII sub realistically.

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              • #8
                C is for "Cross of Iron

                Not as great a movie as "Casablanca", but a better war movie. Sam Peckinpah's only war movie has his characteristic style. All war movies should be anti-war, but this one trashes war. And what better setting to do that than the Eastern Front after the Soviets gained the initiative. A German squad gets caught behind enemy lines and has to work its way back. It is a small unit movie combined with a lost patrol scenario. It has an outstanding cast and characters anchored by James Coburn as one of the greatest anti-heroes in war movie lore - Rolf Steiner. His conflict with his superior officer, the glory-seeking Stransky (Maximilian Schell), is a subplot. But my favorite character is the cynical Keisel (David Warner). The movie combines small unit dynamics with command dynamics. It is loaded with combat. It is one of the great war movie lovers movies.

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                • #9
                  D is for Dr. Strangelove

                  Some dispute whether it is a war movie, but Kubrick's masterpiece is a blazing satire of the Cold War so I put it in the genre. Unlike many war comedies, the movie holds up extremely well and is still funny. It is also an important film because even though it is played for laughs, it still is instructive of the Cold War mentality that gripped the U.S. The plot involves the President and his advisers dealing with an accidentally ordered B-52 attack on the Soviet Union. It's basically "Fail Safe" played for laughs. The acting is great and features a tour de force by Peter Sellers (who incredibly lost the Best Actor Oscar to Rex Harrison of "My Fair Lady"!). He plays three roles. There are so many iconic lines. It climaxes in the "waaaaaahoooooo!" iconic shot of ex-rodeo rider Slim Pickens riding a bomb. It is an absolute must-see.

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                  • #10
                    D-Day! A Bridge Too Far.

                    Pruitt
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                    • #11
                      E is for "84 Charlie Mopic"

                      "84 Charlie Mopic" is one of the best Vietnam War movies and yet it is not very well known. It is unique because it tells the tale of a long range reconnaissance patrol through the POV of an Army motion picture specialist (mopic) embedded for the mission. We see what he sees through the lens of his camera. Seldom has a squad's characters been better developed as each of the men are interviewed during moments of downtime. It is a heterogeneous unit typical of Vietnam. There is a green LT who is looking for some combat time, the sarge who actually runs the squad and butts heads with the LT, the comic relief radio operator, the Pops older careerist, etc. You care about these men and it has some heart-tugging moments. The movie pulls no punches as it develops into a lost patrol movie. It is decidedly low budget, but the sincerity is palpable. It is a unique movie that holds its own with the big boys like "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket".

                      220px-84C_MoPic_film.jpg

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                      • #12
                        Dale Dye on "84 Charlie Mopic":

                        This was an interesting, unique look at one aspect of U.S. Army operations in Vietnam. The fact that director and writer Pat Duncan was a Vietnam Veteran required us to raise the bar on training and performances but, as is too often the case, budget concerns marred the effort. We shot in southern California and it was difficult to find the right locations with the correct type of terrain to make the patrol's deep incursion into enemy territory look dark and spooky.

                        Regardless, we got great performances from all the main actors and they made the best out of all the training we were able to give them. The film was a big hit among Vietnam Vets but didn't get much attention or support in wide release. It deserved better. The concept of letting the audience see the action through the lens of a combat photographer was brilliant and set the movie well apart from run-of-the-mill Vietnam combat films.

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                        • #13
                          F is for "Full Metal Jacket"

                          Stanley Kubrick's take on the Vietnam War is considered by some to be the best Vietnam War movie. It is famously divided into two parts. The first is the dehumanizing of the recruits at Marine boot camp. This features the iconic performance of R. Lee Ermey as the drill sergeant. Many critics were disappointed in the second half which portrays the result of this dehumanization in the Battle of Hue, but it is a visceral payoff for the first half and introduces the true hero of the movie - the female Viet Cong sniper. The movie is full of indelible characters and the acting matches the roles. Kubrick's directing is outstanding. There are parts that approach perfection and although it has its weaknesses, it is still an amazing movie.

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                          • #14
                            G is for Glory

                            Man, there are some great movies starting with the letter G. And I'm not talking about "The Green Berets". I chose the war movie that comes as close to perfection as you could ask for. Great acting, great score, great dialogue, two great combat scenes. Plus it brings recognition to a unit that deserved to be better known, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. It could not have been better. "Glory" is the story of the most famous black unit in the Union army in the Civil War. The movie is the dual story of its commanding officer Col. Robert Shaw and a quartet of the soldiers. It covers from enlistment through training, the quest for combat, and climaxes with the attack on Fort Wagner. Denzel Washington won a well-warranted Best Supporting Actor award, but the other performances are almost as good. Matthew Broderick is surprisingly well cast as Shaw. it is a glorious film.

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                            • #15
                              H is for "Hope and Glory"

                              My H movie is one of the best home front movies. "Hope and Glory" is set in the Blitz in London during WWII. It is the droll tale of a family surviving the bombardment. The main focus is on ten year old Billy who has a typical boy's excitement for the war. It is a great family war film aimed mainly at children, but entertaining and informative for adults. This British movie was well-received in the States where it was nominated for Best Picture, Director (John Boorman), and Original Screenplay.




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