• Top Five WWII Movies

    June 2, 2017

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    Posted in: Hooper's War, Military

    War is Over!


    My latest book, Hooper’s War, is set in WWII Japan, and portrays the horrors of war from the rotating perspectives of an American solider, a Japanese soldier, and a Japanese woman civilian.

    With that setting in mind, here are my top five favorite World War II movies.

    1) Saving Private Ryan

    Is there anyone’s Top Movie List, never mind one of WWII films, that doesn’t include Saving Private Ryan? I’m a big fan of war films that bring massive-scale events down to human scale, and none do that better than Ryan. The largest amphibious invasion in human history? Sure, there are a few panoramic shots, but the images we remember are of Tom Hanks and Tom Berenger struggling to get their men off that beach. WWII as a crusade to save Europe? Noted, but how about a couple of hours of a crusade to save one man?

    Ryan gives you the all-star cast, the production values and realism, the struggle to maintain one’s humanity in the face of horror, and the split-seconds of terror surrounded by hours of boredom. I’ll just say it — no one will ever make a better war movie than this.





    2) The Best Years of Our Lives

    When I first saw The Best Years of Our Lives and learned it was made in 1946, and then learned it won an Academy Award for Best Picture, I knew I was watching a profoundly subversive film that had somehow slipped into the mainstream.

    The story follows Fred, Al, and Homer, three couldn’t-be-more-different at first glance World War II veterans coming home to find that things were not going to be as easy as they thought. The war had changed them, and changed the America they left. The slick Fred is a war hero honored for his service while ignored by employers. Wealthy bank executive Al realizes his desire to help vets with loans conflicts with the profit motives of his bank now that the war is over. Homer, who lost both hands in the Pacific, learns he will not fit in, and that his courage is no longer seen as worth much removed from combat.

    The men learn the lesson following “The Good War” that too many think was unique to the post-Vietnam years: that despite some happy talk and the occasional free drink, society could care less about its warriors once the fighting is over.





    3) Grave of the Fireflies

    Few movies focus on civilians as much more than targets or victims, often showing them as little more than ants scurrying under falling bombs, or villagers accidentally killed, a dramatic plot device to bring on the hero’s angst in Act II before redemption in Act III.

    Grave of the Fireflies is an animated feature from Japanese geniuses Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro and others.) The film is a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of the home front in Japan. It follows two young Japanese children in last days of World War II, with a focus on the numbing hunger that plagued Japan alongside daily firebombing raids conducted by the United States against civilian targets. There are no happy endings in this movie as it reveals the desperate acts people can be forced into to survive in wartime.





    4) Patton

    Every list of great WWII movies has got to have one real sh*tkicker. Mine could have been Bridge at Remagen, Battle of the Bulge, Kelley’s Heroes, Von Ryan’s Express, The Longest Day… you get the idea.

    But Patton comes out on top for its sweeping battle scenes — so that’s what a massive tank battle criss-crossing Northern Africa would have looked like — as well as its sharp portrayal of the kind of men America wants to fight its wars, but then acts embarrassed around as the fighting starts to fade. Patton was the perfect man in the right place to help win the war in Europe, but as victory became more and more understood, his crude manners and obvious affection for killing turn into something America wanted shut away, at least until the next conflict. A film that begins on the grandest scale (that opening speech in front of the flag!) and ends more than bittersweet.




    5) Sophie’s Choice

    I get one controversial choice, right?

    Though only a short portion of Sophie’s Choice takes place in WWII proper, the entire film is a lovingly detailed metaphor for the horror of war, the suffering its survivors cannot end until they do, and the delicate compassion without understanding well-meaning people try to bring to war’s victims. The naive main character Stingo, thinking he can understand what has happened to Sophie and her children inside the concentration camps, seems a stand-in for a post-war America far removed from the killing fields of Europe and the Pacific. Not everyone destroyed by moral injury carried a weapon.






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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      1. Catch 22

      2. Where Eagles Dare

      3. Kelly’s Heroes

      06/2/17 6:08 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      2

      Catch 22 was great book but so-so movie. Art Garfunkel?
      Where Eagles Dare is a good choice, as is Kelly’s Heroes. The latter a good example of the way Hollywood packed in all its random stars and character actors for these blockbuster movies.

      06/2/17 9:01 AM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      3

      PVB,
      was tom berenger in SPR?
      SPR could have been a great movie if they had used a real ww2 ranger as military editor.
      jim hruska

      06/2/17 11:14 AM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      4

      PVB,
      Das Boot and the bridge were great fliks.
      jim

      06/2/17 11:16 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      5

      The Americanization of Emily for some great anti war dialogue courtesy of a notable screenwriter. If you read Kris Kristofferson’s wiki entry he talks about his mother being disappointed in not being a Gold Medal mom regarding his military service. Sick beyond belief.

      06/2/17 1:37 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Speaking of Catch 22, a satirical work of fiction, it has nothing on non fiction world of Sick Vice President Mike Pence none the wiser:

      Sick Pience said Friday that “for some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country.”

      In an interview with “Fox and Friends” Friday, a day after President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Pence expressed bewilderment at the “long been a goal of the liberal left in this country” to advance a “climate change agenda.”

      “For some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country and around the world,” Pence said. “And through Kyoto, through President Obama’s cap-and-trade agenda, and then through the, in the last year of his administration to have America saddled in an international agreement in the Paris accord, I think put a real burden on our economy and our people. It was a bad deal for America.”

      The government acknowledges — or, at least, NASA does — that global temperatures “will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.”

      Sick Pense is also bewildered these same leftists think cigarettes cause cancer.

      06/2/17 2:02 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      Bauer- Pence may have felt that putting filters on cigarettes made them harmless. He’s probably pushing for an idealogical filter on climate change. Just ignore it and you will stay OK. It’s part of nature and her ways.

      06/2/17 2:29 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      Sick Pence none the wiser should be required to wear the following warning:

      Listening to this idiot is dangerous to your health.

      06/2/17 2:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Sick Pence none the wiser and demented Don are up for the role of Walking dead dude Flagg in the remake of Stephen King’s THE STAND.

      06/2/17 3:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...

      10

      We Meant ILL.

      06/2/17 6:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      11

      Big Red One.

      All’s Quiet on the Western Front. (although I think that was WW1 )

      Hogan’s Heroes.

      Hell is for Heroes. ( Steve McQueen rocked that one).

      M

      06/3/17 7:32 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      12

      Rich.

      Suggestion….. Get a compass…. A real one…. Put it on a piece of printer paper…. Tape it all down….
      Mark each day where North is…..

      You will be surprised.

      Then…. Notice how they “experts” changed their narrative from “global warming” to “climate change”.

      Then…… Ask yourself…… WHY airports around the world are having to renumber their runways….and remember…. Runway markings…. They are based on compass readings….

      Not global warming, climate change… The big bad wolf,…. Or AL in Wonderland.

      M

      06/3/17 7:39 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      13

      PS.

      Rich,

      Instead of getting wrapped up in the BS hype…..

      Learn about water scrubbing systems, water filteration systems….such as…. Ummmmm…. The Planet Earth.

      The “Climate Change “…. If we on the pretty little blue rock, want fresh water…. Which with out it, nothing lives,…. The “Climate Change” MUST occur….. MUST…..

      And…. According to geological record….. It has happened 84 times before……

      Its just never happened when man was dominate. ……. Unless you count that little flood thing that just about kicked Noah’s Ass.

      M

      06/3/17 7:46 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      14

      Now Here’s someone with the right attitude toward political correctness…..

      Perhaps we should all try this approach…..

      http://www.foxnews.com/auto/2017/06/02/arizona-mans-drivers-license-features-photo-him-wearing-colander.html

      M

      06/3/17 10:04 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      15

      Mitch,

      So I should listen to you and Sick Pence none the wiser instead of the 99 percent of real science experts?

      06/3/17 11:32 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      Mitch,

      OMG, you DON’T work for that idiot Charles Koch, do you?? That guy has been blaming the politization of climate science while he has spent millions trying to propagandize the issue. I think he should be tied to a stake on Mami Beach while the tide rises. Maybe then he will get it.

      06/3/17 11:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      My favorite WW2 movie —IS PARIS BURNING? Only this time we all lose, even that dickhead KOCHsucker.

      Paris Exit Was ‘Victory Paid and Carried Out’ by Republican Party for the Koch Brothers

      The 22 Republican senators who sent a letter to President Donald Trump last week urging the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climatewe all looked agreement received more than $10 million dollars in campaign funds from fossil fuel interests.

      The two-page letter was signed by a number of Republican heavyweights from coal/gas/oil-rich states, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas.

      The Guardian calculated that the 22 senators received a total of $10,694,284 from oil, gas and coal money in just five years. (See the breakdown below.)

      However, that sum does not even come close to the amount of undisclosed funds coming from the deep pockets of Charles and David Koch’s coal, oil and gas conglomerate, Koch Industries, and other outside groups.

      As the Guardian explains:

      “Visible donations to Republicans from those industries exceeded donations to Democrats in the 2016 election cycle by a ratio of 15-to-1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And that does not include so-called dark money passed from oil interests such as Koch industries to general slush funds to re-elect Republicans such as the Senate leadership fund.

      “At least $90m in untraceable money has been funneled to Republican candidates from oil, gas and coal interests in the past three election cycles, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.”

      Fuck them all.

      06/3/17 11:52 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      18

      Where Charles Koch is going, at least he will be used to the heat.

      06/3/17 12:57 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      19

      Rich.

      I’m just suggesting you do a little experiment….. I learned about it when I was taking a land navigation course, years ago.

      But, Hey…. I’m sure the sand that you can bury your head in needs company.

      Do the experiment….. The results are pretty simple to interpret….. Even the Far Left can see the results…..

      Unless…. Of course….. Your afraid to see the results?????

      Btw….. You might want to look at how many Democrat Senators got paid….

      What’s the difference between a Skunk with Stripes…. And a Skunk with Spots?????

      Answer……. Nothing……

      That would be Senators.

      Kind of like…. Ummmm.. Rome….

      M

      06/3/17 1:42 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      20

      Boiling frogs never realize they are cooked.

      06/3/17 5:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      21

      Mitch,

      Solar is gonna make Kochsuckers disappear. It better watch out for its other businesses like toilet paper. A Mexico company is threatening to take business away from Koch with its new Trump toilet paper. ” Take a dump with Trump.”

      06/3/17 6:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      22

      Rich.

      So……. Your not willing to look at any information… Other than your preconceived… Spoon fed…. theories?????

      Your smarter than that…..

      Live a little…. Challenge what the ” establishment” feeds you…. Challenge the other side too…..

      M

      06/3/17 8:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      23

      Mitch,

      Are you suggesting it’s a vast conspiracy involving 99 percent of climate scientists? That damn fluorine, just like Fred Koch warned US.

      Btw, please tell me you dont work for the Kochsuckers. I will lose all my respect for you.

      06/4/17 6:06 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      24

      Trump is like Fred Koch in that he will sell out to anyone who will pay.

      As Kochsucker sold refineries to the Nazis AND Joe Stalin, Trump is a sellout and a Kochsucker for Putin.

      Profits over country.

      06/4/17 6:54 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      25

      2020 – A vote for the Republican Party is a vote for the Communist Party

      06/4/17 6:55 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      26

      Rich.

      No… I don’t work for him.

      And… What I’m saying is….. A lot of people are making A LOT of money on global warming.

      By labeling a naturally occurring event, they are making LOTS of money….

      An event that NO ONE can control or effect.

      Is climate change occuring, yep……. Is it happening for the Reasons the “experts” are saying…. Not a chance.

      Do the experiment….. Learn a bit….. Stop being a parrot.

      M

      06/4/17 9:40 AM | Comment Link

    • Zachary Smith said...

      27

      The only one of the five movies I’ve actually seen is Patton, and that one I despise. I’ll never watch Saving Private Ryan for the same reason I’ll never view Mel Gibson’s Jesus Chainsaw Massacre flick.

      It may be that I don’t own any war movies because they remind me how much I hate war.

      06/14/17 2:09 AM | Comment Link

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