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!

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

  1. I’ve never been a big fan of war movies. Most of the ones I’ve seen either only have war as a smaller portion of the plot, or it was something I’ve watched for school. The few that I’ve seen and liked are: Glory, Apocalypse Now Redux, Captain America (2011), and Forrest Gump.

    • Forrest Gump is NOT a War Movie. Gump goes to War, briefly, but the movie is a drama.

      Captain America is NOT a War Movie. It involves War, but it is a Superhero movie.

      Both are overruled

      • Captain America is very much a war film. It’s a superhero film also, but that doesn’t exclude it from being a war film, any more than Thor is excluded from being a fantasy film. It features soldiers shooting at each other in a war. How much more of a war film can you get?

      • You know what? Fine.

        I’m in an exceptionally generous mood today. I’m sure you all know why.

        So in consideration of arguments from Mr Wheat’s counsel, I’ll allow Captain America.

        But if anyone tries to test me and makes a word about Forrest Gump, so help me, I’m breaking out the Ban Hammer.

      • Instead of just objecting, I’ll ask a question. If the sci-fi guns were replaced with real guns, would that make it a war movie? A large portion of the movie is about and in World War II, they just sci-fi it up in order to get the PG-13 rating, one of my biggest complaints about the movie.

      • Cross posting.

        LOL

        I dont know if it would make a difference or not, one of my personal hangups is needing to classify flicks in categories. Which is pointless, but it keeps the judges gainfully employed. :D

      • You know… in the case of Forrest Gump, I can see it go either way. The war is just a part of it, true, but it’s a fairly significant part. None of the film after that would have happened that way without it. But it’s certainly just one slice in a “slice of life” drama. That’s definitely one to go to the judges, and I couldn’t fault the judge on either verdict.

  2. Hmmmm so many good ones to choose from

    My all time fave is The Thin Red Line, followed in no particular order by

    The Great Escape
    The Dirty Dozen
    Platoon
    Apocalypse Now
    Zulu
    Braveheart
    The Deerhunter
    Last of the Mohicans

    Nice batch of war films on TCM yesterday. Robert Osborne passed on some McQueen knowledge regarding The Great Escape. Besides doing his own motorcycle stunt driving, McQueen ended up doing the riding for some of the Germans that were chasing him as well. So you are actually watching McQueen chase McQueen off-road.

    • That’s awesome! I never knew that! LOL. I knew he did his OWN driving (That’s obvious) but I never knew he did some Germans. Thats sweet! LOL

      All good flicks. Especially the Deer Hunter. That’s some good stuff. Glad to see it getting its due here. :D

  3. Bridge On the River Kwai
    Great Escape
    Dirty Dozen
    M*A*S*H (the movie, though the tv show was still good)
    Thin Red Line
    A Bridge To Far
    Escape to Victory (partially just because it’s about football/soccer)
    Henry V
    Inglorious Basterds (not my favorite, but it’s re-watchable)
    I guess I could try to fight for Hotel Rwanda (technically there was a Civil War going on).

    If tvs shows were included, Blackadder Goes Forth would be in there with Band of Brothers.

    • Heh! Nic Shows Gelf the way to work M*A*S*H in here. :D Good work.

      Hotel Rwanda is one of the greatest movie that I will never watch again, ever. It’s phenomenal, but just SO gut wrenching. If anyone ever thinks humans are “Evolved”… all they have to do is watch that movie for a reminder of how Barbaric we really are.

      • Then you need to see Shake Hands with the Devil. Roméo Dallaire is who Nolte’s character is somewhat based off of. His book and the doc adaptation are horrifying. There’s really no need to make up stuff for films or novels when what’s happened (or even happening) is worse.

  4. All of mine have already been mentioned, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Apocolypse Now. Though I think a special mention should go out to Kelly’s Heroes which manages to make a much more light-hearted war film than those I’ve already mentioned. It also stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland so it could only be a great film!

    • I’ve seen Kelly’s Heroes, sure. It was a fun flick.

      And remember, its never a race, its just about what your faves are… so if someone’s already said something, doesnt mean they have dibs on it or anything.

      Although, that thinking does kind of lead to flicks like Kelly’s Heroes getting their props, which may not have happened otherwise. So… :D

  5. I’m not really a war movie person but The Big Parade (yeah the 1925 silent one with John Gilbert) really knocked me out. I also have to say my dad the WWII veteran says Saving Private Ryan is the one war movie he ever saw that really got it right. I also love The Americanization of Emily. It’s a Paddy Chayefsky script, kind of the anti-war war film but great cast (James Garner, Julie Andrews, James Coburn) and wonderful, wonderful dialog. Only Chayefsky can get away with these long, philosophical speeches. You want to grab a pen and paper.

    • LOL. I’ve never seen “Emily”, but I’ve seen other Chayefsky works and you’re totally right. :D He does have a way with those, doesnt he?
      :( I havent seen “The Big Parade” either… I have seen Saving Private Ryan though! LOL

      • I had to check out The Big Parade because it kept getting mentioned as the first truly great effects movie. You might just add it to the list of the movies you’ll get to someday – it’s definitely a movie that every *movie buff* should see.

  6. I haven’t seen a lot of war films yet, but on the other hand, I haven’t really seen a bad one either.

    The Great Escape
    Bridge on the River Kwai
    Braveheart
    Glory

      • It could be. And I remembered I forgot to mention Inglourious Basterds, even though it’s really not on the level of those. Of course, I’m sure there are bad war movies out there, it’s just the worst that I’ve seen is Johnny Tremaine, and even that was merely mediocre.

        Here’s a question for you, though; not pushing it, necessarily (though it’s one of the best movies ever) just asking what the judge’s verdict would be. Dr. Strangelove. There are no battles, just one bomb and one mega-bomb. No actual war. But the whole thing is predicated upon the fear of war. I’d be inclined to say it’s not really a war movie, but then I don’t know what I would call it (besides “dark comedy drama”, I mean.)

      • Oh yeah. Someone mentioned that earlier and I was tempted to start up.

        I mean , its ABOUT war, but would I consider it a War Movie? Wouldnt make my list, let’s put it that way.

        But it turns out the judges arent as harsh today as I thought. Softees. Somethin must have happened between 7 am when I wrote this up and now. LOL :D

    • You know what? I’ve never seen that one. Is it any good? That came out right after his meltdown debacle, and I didnt want any part of it. I was kind of sick of him.

      Is it a good one?

      • It is definitly a different view point for a war movie. I guess I liked it because I was so unaware of the assassination attempts on Hitlers life! It was acted well, but sometimes dragged. Not my favorite, but I thought I would mention.it.

      • You know for some odd reason I always want to give extra points to Valkyrie because it is a great example of a significant number of Brits playing Nazis. I just love how often the Brits get stuck playing Nazis while American actors are usually the hero (an not a Nazi). That and they made no attempt to use fake German accents while they spoke in English.

  7. “Black Hawk Down” is one I can totally get behind.

    One that I am actually rather surprised by it’s absence so far is Samuel Fuller’s “The Steel Helmet” (1951). This was a fairly good case study for realism on a (very, very tight) budget, especially for the time.

    “Saving Private Ryan” certainly deserves an honorable mention.

    I have to mention that I, too, am in the minority of people that didn’t care for “Thin Red Line”. A friend and I went to see it opening night (interestingly it was after this that I’d seen “Saving Private Ryan” with the same friend). 15 minutes in, my friend fell asleep while I struggled to not do the same. At the point when the ship is seen from the beach (lost all ability to measure time by that point) I thought, and nudged my friend awake to tell him “hey, look a boat. somethings likely going to happen now”. However, I seemed to have been made a liar, because nothing happened. It is my opinion that nothing continued to happen for the entire duration of that flick. I don’t begrudge others for liking it, but I am just not among them. I’ve no doubt that common ground could be found somewhere else, though.

    • Havent seen “The Steel Helmet”. LOL. At least you didnt throw Paths of Glory at me Dak, it’s been a pigpile!! :D

      Anyways, thats freaking funny about the Thin Red Line. Malick is… an aquired taste, isnt he? LOL!! :D I can totally see what you’re saying. The funny thing is that that movie is 10x more accessible than “The Tree of Life” :D!!

      • More accessible perhaps in large part to the listed cast, which was cause for a spark of interest from me.

        I really think you should have a go at “The Steel Helmet”. It has a fairly clear lineage (IMO) from “All Quiet on the Western Front” to “Saving Private Ryan” and on. The budget was so low that it is amazing that it was able to be filmed at all, but I don’t think it suffered too badly for it. Well worth a once-over, at least.

      • Noted.

        I just wind up logging so many recommendations that I hesitate to tell people I’ll check ‘em out nowadays. Hate making empty promises.

        And today’s clear “Get on that ASAP” movie is Paths of Glory. Which has the added benefit of being on my still to see Kubrick checklist. You know?

        So I’ll keep it in mind!

      • Totally understand what you mean by not wanting to make any empty promises. If you happen to get the opportunity, I don’t think you will be disappointed. If the opportunity doesn’t present itself, well, such is a pity, but the world will go on.

        Interestingly extra tidbit; I’d seen Steel Helmet years earlier and not known what it was until years later when I caught the documentary “The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera” (1996, one year prior to Fuller’s death) on IFC. My curiosity was brought to the forefront to revisit the film, along with a few others as well. The Doc has Tim Robbins interviewing Fuller and narrating and Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, & Quentin Tarantino all provide additional comments to the narrative.

      • That’s quite the accusation, sir. To think that I would stoop to such lowly tactics as that!

        In truth, it was just an additional anecdote that I though might be of interest to mention. If you want to erroneously interpret my actions in such a nefarious manner, well… did it work? :P

  8. I have to throw my hat in the ring for Full Metal Jacket.

    It’s not getting enough love. Only Joe and PG have name dropped it so far!!

    That movie is a classic!!

    Plus of course, Patton, but I’m sure everyone already saw me talk about that one enough this week.

    • Nope. (Fogs stands looking at the plate as the Umpire calls STEE-RIKE!!) behind me.

      Never seen it.

      All these classics today. I expected it though, certainly. The classic war films are awesome. There’s just SO many of them.

      Surprised no one’s shown any love to the bigger ones though. Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Longest Day… etc…

  9. Holy crap, this is a hard question to answer. I guess the first answer I have is a total cop-out. My favorite war… thing… is Band of Brothers. Not a movie, clearly, so not the answer you’re looking for. But I’ll be damned if I don’t feel obligated to bring it up. It’s amazing.

    Just for grins, I’ll say Inglorious Basterds. And my second answer is Buster Keaton’s The General.

    • Hey John! How ya doing? Congrats to The Droid You’re Looking For on its Lammy noms! I’ll have to stop by to scope out the competition say hello later myself! :D

      Meanwhile, yeah, apparently Band of Brothers is so beloved that we’ve collectively decided to give it a pass for not being a movie. LOL. It’s been brought up several times – and right fully so.

      Big fan of Tarantino, and of IB, just not so sure how well it fits my mental image of a “War Movie”, it would just run into so many other more standard war flicks that I wouldnt have thought of it.

      And unfortunately, I’m not all that well versed in the classic classics. LOL. As blogging all too frequently exposes. Thus, I have to confess to never having seen “The General”. :(

      Hey man thanks for stopping by and spreading some comments around. Looking forward to checking out TDYLF and best of luck as we head into the voting!! :D

  10. Hi, fogs and company:

    Excellent topic for the day!

    War films cover a lot of ground. And history.

    Boer War: Breaker Morant

    WWI:
    Paths of Glory
    Von Richtofen and Brown
    The Missing Battalion
    The Blue Max

    WWII:
    They Were Expendable
    In Harm’s Way
    Das Boot
    Hell is for Heroes
    Twelve O’clock High
    In Which We Serve
    Sink the Bismark
    Objective, Burma!
    A Walk in the Sun
    Attack!
    Patton
    The Longest Day
    The Train
    Sorry, guys. Saving Private Ryan, beyond its opening 20 minutes is nothing more than two episodes of the superior, 1960s TV series, ‘Combat!’.

    Korean War:
    The Steel Helmet
    The Hunters
    Pork Chop Hill

    Between Wars:
    The Battle of Algiers
    The Lost Command.

    Vietnam War:
    Go Tell The Spartans
    Full Metal Jacket
    The Odd, Angry Shot
    Flight of the Intruder
    Siege of Fire Base Gloria
    We Were Soldiers

      • Hi, fogs.

        Sorry, if I went a little overboard.

        I was born in 1954 and War Films and Television series were considered staples, if not facts of life back then. Before the idea, concept and execution of a War Film became Politically Incorrect.

        I’m still p*ssed that ‘Combat!’, which ran for five seasons (1962-1967) on ABC and was extremely popular; never won an Emmy!

        Though, I am pleased to throw some titles out there for others to be curious about or intrigued enough to look up and view.

      • Nah, nah…. no “Sorries” no sorry.
        :D It was fun! And a good list with a lot of great movies! Like you said, you “threw some titles out there for others to be curious about or intrigued enough to look up and view.” Thats awesome!

        Knock yourself out and feel free to comment as you see fit at any time, buddy. Just know that I’m a smartass at heart, and I often cant refrain myself from ball busting comments. :D

      • CANT refrain. CANT. Read it right… youve got too much novocaine going on I think.

        (Just reinforcing your point, LOL)

        Plus, I was feeling very generous yesterday. LOL. An avalanche of Lammy noms can do that to a person. :D

  11. Great topic in the shadow of Memorial Day!
    For me? I go for the ones that left lasting impressions on me…

    Full Metal Jacket (brilliant!)
    Saving Private Ryan (gotta join the band wagon…)
    Hurt Locker (best “new” war film of late)
    Platoon (unforgettable performances)
    Gallipoli (images that stick with you!)
    Empire of the Sun (maybe not directly in the war–but the message is strong)
    Three Kings (memorable lines and brilliant mixture of humor and war)
    :D

    • Thanks Nedi! I thought it went pretty well with the weekend…

      Meanwhile, Gallipoli. Is that the Mel Gibson one? I havent seen it, but on top of that I guess I hadnt even known it was a war movie! LOL

      Its good though? Cool.

      The rest are great choices, for sure.

      • Yes, Gallipoli–actually, it’s an Australian War movie…but that still counts, right? :) It follows two young Australian kids (Gibson is one) that enlist in the Australian Army during WW1. It is a coming of age and an innocence lost story. It builds the characters slowly as you watch them go through the realities of trench war and ends with some very intense battle scenes.

      • Oh yeah, totally. I dont care what war, just a war.

        And I did basically overrule Forrest Gump, so I’m hoping it has more war than that. Sounds like it does though. :D

  12. I keep bouncing around on what my favourite is, It was Platoon for a long time, but then Private Ryan was out ahead. But now I think I have to go with Apocalypse Now.

  13. I just want to preface my response with the fact that I am deathly afraid of the judges! ;)

    Of course I love many of the above mentioned, but here are my picks (ducking from the judges): The Pianist, In the Land of Blood & Honey, Life is Beautiful & Tropic Thunder (a movie about a war movie, c’mon!) :)

    • Kim? Just because it’s a theme song, doesn’t mean its not true. :D

      LOVE Tropic Thunder. It may not be a war movie, but the judges have NO chance of overruling that one. :D

      Is Blood & Honey any good? I never checked it out…

      • Y’know what…for Jolie’s directorial debut, it ain’t half bad…I wasn’t expecting much from it, but ended up enjoying it. It’s harsh & sweet at the same, shows a lot of realities of the irrationality of xenophobia; an interesting look at why humans do what they do. It’s a bit heavy on cliches which is what kept me from thinking it was great. You should at least give it a lazy day watch. :)

  14. i’m a little late in responding due to email probs. My favs are: Bridge on the River Kwai (’57), Guns of Navarone (’61), Gallipoli (’81), and Last of the Mohicans (’92) which also has my all time fav movie theme.

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