Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR Favorite War Movie?

Seeing as this weekend was Memorial Day, I thought this would be a good week to turn our discussion to War Movies.

War is a frequent topic for Hollywood. So much so that the movies are their own genre. Whether it be military biopics such as this weekend’s MTESS “Patton” or “MacArthur”, attempts to recreate the battles and notable moments of wars such as “The Longest Day” or “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, or straight up fiction set within a historical conflict such as “Apocalypse Now” or “Full Metal Jacket”… Hollywood has gone to the war well often.

It makes for epic storytelling. There’s conflict and danger inherent in the setting. Heroes and villains. Just recreating a war lends itself to great filmmaking. Getting any measure of believability onscreen requires tremendous production values. The stories tend to be epic as well. Not that there havent been plenty of misfires, of course…

So what’s YOUR favorite war movie? Which movies do you find yourself sitting through any time these holiday weekend war movie marathons pop up? Let us hear it!

Be forewarned, though, today the judges are feeling very strict. So no screwing around in court. Star Wars is NOT a WAR movie. Stay on point!

137 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR Favorite War Movie?

  1. This will be a common answer I’m sure, but few films before or since have nailed down the senselessness and sacrifice of war as well as SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

    What I love most about the film is the way it plays upon rewatch – how you’re able to get past the shock of the opening 25 minutes and dig in to the conundrum expressed by Rieben and Upham as the mission plays out.

    • You rushed over to grab that one. LOL!

      “FIRST!” :D

      I still remember that I promised you a rewatch on it, I’m going to MTESS it one of these days, but Jurassic Park tied in to the Lambcast and I didnt want to do back to back Spielberg.

      I promise I’ll swing back around to it.

    • I’ve seen all of those except for “Paths of Glory”, which is a must see because it’s Kubrick. I’m gonna get to it soon. I actually just picked up “The Killing” Criterion blu, so that’ll be my next to check off on my mission to see all his films (very achievable, he didnt do that many). :D

  2. For me it’s between two that were released around the same time. We were spoiled with Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Ted Line. I have to go with Terrence Malick’s gorgeous and poetic piece though. Spielberg is to be commended on his visceral approach but Malick’s is so layered and has more depth.

    • I knew that one would get its due today. Didnt take long.

      They’re very different films. Kind of serve as a nice contrast to each other and an illustration of how directors impact movies, no?

      • Exactly! I think the Thin Red Line wasn’t appreciated as much on it’s release because Spielberg had set a very high benchmark. I also prefered Private Ryan at first but on repeat viewings The Thin Red Line stands out. They make good unofficial companion pieces.

  3. For a guy who just posted hom much he dislikes War films, there were a surprising number I do like: Top five:

    1. Casablanca
    2. Apocalypse Now
    3. Schindler’s List
    4. Platoon
    5. African Queen

  4. I only have 2 war movies in my top films list and “Napoleon” (1927), even though is has war scenes in it, I consider it more of anepic biography. So I’m going to go with the war for Texas independence-John Wayne’s version of “The Alamo”. Not only are the battle scenes great but what makes it better was when the defenders of the Alamo talked of their opponents with respect. You don’t see that in too many war movies.

  5. “PATTON” (George C. Scott), “THE GUNS OF NAVARONE” (Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn), “PATHS OF GLORY” (Kirk Douglas And Stanley Kubrick take on WWI)
    Any Of Those 3 Could Be Called My FAVE FAVE War Flick EVER.
    They’re ALL Amazingly PRICELESS!!!
    -BRAD

    • Good ones Brad LOL :D

      God damn it, all you people are gonna have me running out to Best Buy to see if they have “Paths of Glory” before today is out, and I already bought three Criterion Blus this weekend!

      No, I havent seen it. Yes, I really really need to. :(

      Seen the other two though, nice choices!

      • Yeah, I’m adding my vote to Paths of Glory. I just watched it the other week on blu. Great stuff.Best battle sceen filmed were only one side is shown. I don’t think a German even shows up at all actually.

  6. Just put me down for the same ones VictorsMovieReviews did above. I can’t beat that set ;-).

    p.s., let me know if you want me to lend you my Crit Collection of Paths of Glory, Fogs.

  7. Saving Private Ryan

    I also have a place in my heart for We Were Soldiers, as my husband was 1st Cavalry also.

      • I liked it, but I’m a chick. RT gave it a 63%.

        Yeah, it’s Mel….without the blue face…..lol

  8. “All Quiet on the Western Front”(1930). A brilliant anti-war movie from Erich Maria Remarque’s novel. This book shook me up like no other when I read it in high school. I still recall the graphic description of battlefield corpses growing hair and fingernails long after death. The film was unflinching in portraying “The Great War” and years and years ahead technically. There are some long tracking shots of the trenchs that make one forget it was made in 1930! I read that when it came out in Germany, Nazis party members stormed theaters because the film was a lie. In the US the film was boycotted by the American Legion. In the end it won the best picture Oscar and continues to inspire film makers.

    • Breaking out the classics! AND dropping the knowledge on us. LOL. It certainly is a classic! Very well said, sir. It certainly is a worthy selection and a candidate to one day be a MTESS. Hope you support it if I do it. :D

      • Fully support all your endeavors! Here’s another little tidbit, Lewis Milestone the director, who Oscared on this film, invented camera tracking. A one time German engineer, he laid wooden tracks in the trench line and attached a camera for live action feel. Shazaam!

  9. Grave of the Fireflies. Hands down, no doubt about it. I can’t think of a better film that shows the devastation of World War II in Japan. So heartbreaking, but an amazing film.

    Other personal favorites: Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, The Deer Hunter, The Lives of Others (not really a “war” film, but it is set in the Cold War)

    And a couple underrated modern films: Tigerland and The Messenger.

    • They certainly are, right? Whats funny is how different they are. Schindler’s list is just a crazy, stomach churning look at the struggle in the face of horror and human evil… SPR is a much more traditional War Movie. Spielberg. The man has range, you know? :D

      Good picks, Pete!

    • TCT! ‘Sup? :D

      Yeah, I am TOTALLY regretting not picking up Paths of Glory now. DAMMIT. I had no idea it was so highly thought of by everyone. Now I definitely have to circle back to it.

  10. Timely topic as always. Many above are worthy like Brad’s and culturedteen’s lists.
    For me, I like war films and above all DIRTY DOZEN(’67) reigns supreme.
    Lee Martin (Reisman) is at his finest; John Cassavetes(Franco) is fiesty; Charles Bronson adds alot including giving the psychiatric tester Captain Kinder his own test; Telly Savalas is an outright loon; and Jim Brown all but tries to run into the endzone. Great little WW2 plot about guys with nothing to lose who just get it done on the battlefield. The dialogue is snappy, the officers clash, and the soldiers just perform.

    “They’re very pretty Colonel, but can they fight?”
    -Pinkley

    • Know why the topics are always so Timely, S? Because I lack inspiration and will capitalize whenever it offers itself up easily! LOL :D

      Honesty. Honesty.

      Meanwhile… the Dirty Dozen. Moment of slow nodding, grimacing respect. Hell ya. How can you forget Donald Sutherland though! LOL :D

      Well, there are a dozen of them, so I can see it, I guess.

  11. Think I have to go with the popular Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down. I remember Black Hawk Down just flooring me the first time I saw it.

  12. The opening sequence in Saving Private Ryan is powerful, the first half of Full Metal Jacket in which they are in boot camp is intense, and although maybe not necessarily a “war film”, I love the characters in The Dirty Dozen.

    The Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down, Platoon…man, there really are a lot of great war f

  13. Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan are my two favorite war movies. I have to agree with Joe though, nothing beats Band of Brothers. Probably the best miniseries ever.

  14. This is a great discussion you’ve fostered here Fogs – you should get a lammy nomination for best blog for it.

    Oh…wait…would you look at that…

  15. The Bridge on the River Kwai
    Full Metal Jacket
    Letters From Iwo Jima
    Paths of Glory
    Dr. Strangelove (not sure if it counts)
    Platoon
    Jarhead
    Flame and Citron
    Lawrence of Arabia
    The Hurt Locker
    The Wind That Shakes The Barley

    So…those ones :P

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