War Movies

Posted: November 11, 2012 by veeshir in Random Crap, Win!

In honor of Veteran’s Day, let’s do a war movie post.

What are the best war movies? Glad you asked, I’ve loved war movies for a long time. WWOR used to show war movies all Saturday morning to early afternoon. WPIX showed Creature Feature at the same time, so I used to go back and forth.

These are the most powerful ones, some that are very good didn’t make the cut, like  ‘Run Silent, Run Deep‘, ‘Sergeant York‘ and of course, “In Harm’s Way” and a bunch of other Duke movies.

In no particular order (except the last one, which is the best one.):

Pork Chop Hill, it’s one of the most realistic war movies ever. No, not “Saving Private Ryan” realistic, but one that I would say shows  best what happens in war, and especially what happens when the US lets the UN get involved.
If you read the reviews of that, it’s supposed to be anti-war, I think it’s a masterpiece. You have a first lieutenant who’s told to take and hold a hill with his company during the “peace” talks. For some stupid UN reason, they don’t reinforce them and even take back the reinforcements they do get. The lieutenant follows orders and keeps his men under control in impossible circumstances while the negotiators deal with commies who are arrogant, smug and superior.

The only way to negotiate with commies is to shoot them in the head. The only good commie is a dead commie. This movie makes that clear.

Wake Island, it was filmed as the battle was going on. They had to delay finishing it until the battle was over. It’s about Marines and construction civilians being all badass. I have to admit, I really like the propaganda movies from during the war. I understand they were recruiting films, but they were powerful.

Speaking of propaganda/recruiting movies, They Were Expendable is a great movie. It was about when we were getting our asses kicked, Japan was running wild throughout the Pacific and we were worried about being invaded. It’s about the debacle that was the Philippines at the beginning of the war, they show the agony of defeat, doing your duty and victory in defeat. A common theme in all good war movies.

So Proudly We Hail, about a group of nurses in the Philippines set at the same time as They Were Expendable. That’s one fucking powerful movie. After watching that movie you’re going to want to go out and kill some Japs, the damn slanty-eyed, sneaky little yellow devils.

Stand By For Action, a “based on a true story” movie propaganda about an obsolete destroyer that is pressed into action and takes on a battleship, cruisers and destroyers to save the rest of a fleet.

Action In The North Atlantic, about merchant seaman going to Russia in Liberty Ships. Another propaganda/recruiting movie, showing the courage and determination of the merchant marine.

Sahara, with Bogie, not the later ones (I haven’t seen the one with Jim Belushi, I can’t take him seriously as a her0), about a tank in North Africa during a retreat. Great movie. The characters are stereo-types, but true ones. The faithful and brave Sudanese (British subjects at the time), the Frenchie who just wants to kill Nazis, the captured Italian who doesn’t want to fight (My uncle fought in North Africa with the Italians, they fought as little as possible and surrendered to the first Americans they found, then threw a party. True story, at least, that’s how he described it, my relatives in Italy all felt bad about Mussolini, their attitude is that never did a greater ruler have a worse people), the cultured Brit, the cockney Brit, the American from the mean streets, the cowboy and the evil Nazi. Great movie.

Battleground, about the 101st in Bastogne. Great fucking movie.

Not a movie, but Band of Brothers is also great. One of the only post-1970 war movies that doesn’t exude hatred of the military. (Saving Private Ryan, while with gruesomely realistic filmed battles, is not a good war movie. When the sergeant says, “Maybe saving Private Ryan is the one thing we can be proud of” (or something similar) I always want to punch him in the fucking mouth. No you stupid asshole, ending the Nazis is the greatest fucking thing you ever did.)

Bataan, again a propaganda/recruiting film about the Philippines. The one thing about good movies set in that time is that they show scratch units made up of men from all branches. There’s the flyer, the navy types, the REMFs, the kid and one combat soldier who holds them together to slow the Japanese down so we can retreat and save as much as possible. Powerful as they die one by one.

The Purple Heart, about flyers captured after Doolittle’s Raid, tortured and put on trial by the Japanese. Wow.

Black Hawk Down, another cautionary tale about going to war with the fucking UN involved. Bastids. I can’t watch it again as I get fucking furious every dam time as I see the Pakistanis retreat, leaving our soldiers to run by themselves at the end. Motherfucking sonomabatching UN assholes.

Beach Red, it follows the actions and thoughts of our Marines, and also Japanese soldiers, as we invade an island in the Pacific. Very powerful. One of the more powerful moments is when we watch a hiding Japanese soldier looking at the pic of his wife and child and remembering their life and then, when the Americans go by, he runs out to bayonet one Marind in the back before he’s killed. Holy fucking shit.


Before we get to the best war movie, allow me to say, “Fuck you” to our fine media betters.

A few years ago AMC showed The Blue Max on Veteran’s day. Yes, on the 11th hour of the 11th day they showed a fucking movie about German fucking flyers in WWI. For those who don’t know, the holiday began as a commemoration of the end of WWI. So AMC showed a movie about the fucking enemy on that day. The stupid fuckers. Today Encore is showing war movies all day and lest you think  our military is a good, they’re ending it with a crockumentary about how our military tortured people at Abu Ghraib. Fuck you assholes. Seriously, I would say only eddiebear could eloquently enough state how I feel about how you should be fucked by a jihadi’s rusty knife.

And now, the best war movie ever, To Hell and Back, about and starring Audie Murphy. He had all manner of emotional problems later in his life, I would have to believe that making that movie harmed him a lot as he relived the deaths of so many of his buddies. Powerful movie.

  1. I’m only 50 so the greatest generation and their feats are something my dad did there then in Korea. “We were soldiers” is more pertinent to me.

  2. D says:

    We Were Soldiers – best war movie ever, check out the weapons & uniforms in the opening scene.

    • Veeshir says:

      Never saw it, I’ll check it out. It takes a strong endorsement from someone not a media douche for me to watch a post 1970 war movie.

  3. One of my favorites was “The Cruel Sea”. Life on a British Corvette, then Frigate (for the survivors) doing convoy escort duty in the second world war. Jack Hawkins, Denholm Elliot, true to the book, and very moving.

    • Veeshir says:

      I was hoping for some people to give me some I haven’t seen, I’ll check it out.
      There’s a Brit destroyer movie I like but I can’t remembeer the name. The captain’s wife and mother die in the Blitz while he’s at sea.
      The Brits used to understand about how important war can be.

  4. Another, albeit unconventional is ‘Battle: Los Angeles’. I know the reviews panned the crap out of it, but it sucked me in, and I really enjoyed it.

    And Beau Geste and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer…both Gary Cooper, both pretty good.

    • Veeshir says:

      I was going to update on Battle LA, even though it’s sci-fi, it shows respect for Marines and the decisions people make in war.

      Meant to say, the best Beau Geste movie is the last one. The Last Remake of Beau Geste is pretty darn funny and, like a Monty Python movie, much more realistic about the times. The Viking Funeral scene is particularly good.

      All the versions of Beau Geste are pretty good, but they’re not as powerful as the propaganda/recruiting films from above.
      It’s a great story, I just don’t care so much about the people in it.

      It also stars (sort of) Gary Cooper.

      I don’t think I’ve seen a Gary Cooper movie I didn’t like.

  5. Kermit says:

    +1 for “We Were Soldiers.” I’m also a big “Das Boot” fan.

  6. regnad kcin says:

    Not exactly a war movie, but a little-known one that I found entertaining – “Gardens of Stone”, about the 1st battalion 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Virginia. These men are the soldiers who guard and parade at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It was a Francis Ford Coppola movie (betw. Godfathers II and III), and very well done.

    The basic story was that James Caan was assigned to the largely ceremonial detachment during the Vietnam war, and really wanted to be involved in training infantry for the war. He “trains up” his men in Arlington, and they go off to Vietnam. Ultimately, Caan is promoted, sent to Officers’ Candidate School, commissioned, and sent to Vietnam. His former mates only learn of his fate when his remains are scheduled to be buried at Arlington. In all, an excellent movie.

    It didn’t do too well with the critics (it was 1987) but had a number of stars in the cast, including a very young Laurence Fishburne).

  7. MikeD says:

    I’ll tell you Vee, as a veteran, I’m ok with Blue Max. That wasn’t an existential struggle with a foe who wanted us all dead or enslaved. There was a great deal of resepect both ways between the soldiers in WWI. I myself cannot sit through Blackhawk Down. I get too pissed off. And I will 100% agree with you on the Encore douchebaggery. Fuck those guys.

    • veeshir says:

      I understand what you’re saying, but I’d bet my life (I rarely bet my own life, I’ll bet DPUD’s once in a while) that AMC had absolutely no idea at all.

      I still think it’s the height of insensitivity to show it on 11/11.

      The worst part about the abu Ghraib deal? It was called “Standard Operating Procedure”.


  8. Kermit says:

    I can’t sit through Blackhawk Down either. It’s a great movie, but it makes me feel angry and ill. I suppose after a few more months of this administration it’ll just make me feel “normal.”

  9. The Longest Day is one of my favorites.

    Just FYI, I had the pleasure of meeting Audie Murphy’s sister some years ago. I worked for a movie store, and she lived in Irving at the time, and always ordered copies of To Hell and Back to donate to the VFW for silent auction. She was shorter than her brother, too.

    And my BIL was a member of the Old Guard when Gardens of Stone was being filmed. He is in a scene at Arlington, digging a grave in the background.

  10. […] War Movies (doubleplusundead.com) […]

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