The other day I wrote about my five favorite historical World War Two movies. While that list only touched upon movies that tried to re-tell history, I thought a list of fictional fighting films was needed. There are just too many great flicks about WW2, so here is my list of fictional films of adventure that were made about the war. Please feel free to add your own films to the list. There are dozens of others.
The Dirty Dozen (1967): Featuring an all-star cast and is based on the novel by E.M. Nathanson. The movie, which caused a lot of controversy for its violence, yet grossed over $20 million at the box office, was in the top five movies for 1967. It features some of the best action actors of its day: Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, and Cleveland Browns great running back, Jim Brown. This is by far, my favorite war film of all time and I can never pass it up when it is on television.
Saving Private Ryan (1998): This WW2 epic was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. The opening 24 minutes of the film is based upon the Normandy landing on D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944, but that is where the historical side ends and the story takes over. The idea for the movie was based upon the famous letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby (a Southern sympathizer) who had lost five sons in the American Civil War. This film is a favorite of mine based on the realistic battle sequences and characters.
The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949): No list would be complete without a John Wayne film and this was one of the Duke’s best films. Why is it in the fiction WW2 category? Well, while Americans did fight at Iwo Jima, this movie is far from factual. The film is more of a story of John Wayne’s character, Sgt Stryker, and how he takes his men through basic training to the Battle of Tarawa and then to Iwo Jima. While the movie is great film, a favorite part of the film for me is that it includes Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and John Bradley – the three surviving flag raisers from the historical picture. Finally, here’s a little bit of trivia for you. The first recording of the term “lock-n-load” is first used in this movie by John Wayne.
Kelly’s Heroes (1970): This film, starring Clint Eastwood and an all-star cast is about a group of soldiers who go AWOL during WW2 to capture some gold. It becomes a three way race (Kelly’s men, the Germans, and the American Army) to see who actually gets the gold. The film is an anti-war propaganda piece that played well with fans at the time. There are comical references throughout, including a parody of Eastwood’s standoff with a Tiger tank, similar to his showdown in the movie, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
The Guns of Navarone (1961): The movie based on the novel of the same name is about a group of an Allied commando team with the goal of destroying some German artillery in a fortress overlooking the Aegean Sea which is keeping 2000 troops from being rescued. This movie stars Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and David Niven and combines action, intrigue, romance and drama.