Veteran’s Day: 16 Of The Best World War II Movies

Published 4 years ago by

veterans day Veterans Day: 16 Of The Best World War II Movies

It’s Veteran’s Day today – the day we remember and honor soldiers and sailors that serve and have served in the military in defense of the United States of America and other countries.

I thought it would be appropriate to put together a list of classic war movies to commemorate the holiday…

This is by no means a complete list, just some of my favorites and those that came to mind – feel free to add your favorites and nudge my memory over any obvious ones I may have forgotten in the comments below.

Casablanca (1942) – Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman, a classic if there ever was one: Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II,  an American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications – and woe unto anyone who thinks of doing a remake of this film!

Flying Tigers (1942) – John Wayne leads a band of American Mercenaries called upon by China to help fight the Japanese two years before Pearl Harbour.

Midway (1976) – All star “real men” cast: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn and Robert Mitchum in dramatization of the battle that turned out to be the turning point of the Pacific Theatre of World War II.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) – John Wayne stars in this version of the battle of Iwo Jima.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – William Holden and Alec Guiness (yes, Obi-Wan) in a story about a British colonel who co-operates with the Japanese to oversee his men’s construction of a railway bridge for their captors – while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

The Caine Mutiny (1954) – Humphrey Bogart in an unusual role as a US Naval captain who shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes his ship, causing his first officer to relieve him of command and face court martial for mutiny.

The Dirty Dozen (1967) – This AWESOME fictional story of a US Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers in World War II stars Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, Telly Savalas and other fantastic actors.

Flying Leathernecks (1951) – John Wayne leads “The Wildcats” squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

From Here to Eternity (1953) – Another star-studded classic with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra. A private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit’s team, while his captain’s wife and second in command are falling in love.

The Great Escape (1963) – Another “must see” WWII film. It stars Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence and James Coburn as members of several hundred Allied POWs who plan a mass escape from a German POW camp.

Mister Roberts (1955) – Henry Fonda was brilliant in this film starring alongside James Cagney and a very funny Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his role in this WWII semi-comedy.

Patton (1970) – Probably the crown jewel of George C. Scott’s acting career where he portrays the most famous U.S. General, ever. The film earned 7 Oscars including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture (back in the day when the Oscars actually meant something).

Stalag 17 (1953) -Directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss and Peter Graves. When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.

Where Eagles Dare (1968) – Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood as allied agents who stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding an American General prisoner… but that’s not all that’s really going on.

Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) – Directed by Robert Wise, starring Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden and Don Rickles (yes, THAT Don Rickles) about a U.S. sub commander, obsessed with sinking a certain Japanese ship, butts heads with his first officer and crew.

The Guns of Navarone (1961) – Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn: A British team is sent to cross occupied Greek territory and destroy the massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) – A dramatization of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the series of American blunders that allowed it to happen.

What are your favorites? What do you think should be on this list?

Thanks to IMDB.com for help in researching and synopses.

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  1. Von Ryan’s express.

  2. Haven’t read all the posts, but I can’t let the Death to Dino Delaurentis pass without mentioning “A Bridge too Far”. Classic film, dealing with an Allied defeat in WWII, a subject not much brought to the screen.
    I also haven’t seen a mention of “The Desert Rats” w/ Richard Burton and the urbane James Mason doing the greatest Romell.
    And from WWI, how about “The Blue Max”, great aireal photography and stunts.

    Thanks for a Great List

  3. Saving Private Ryan.
    No doubt the greatest WWll movie ever made.
    I’m stunned it’s not on you list.

  4. Forget ‘Guns of Navarone’! Where’s Greatest Actor of All Time, Harrison Ford in ‘Force 10′? That’s what got me into war movies, and Harrison was only half of it!

  5. No list like this would be complete without the star studded WWII classic, In Harms Way, with John Wayne and a slew of other great period stars.

  6. WHAT? NO Gregory Peck in “Twelve O’ Clock High?” NO Clark Gable in “Command Decision?”

    • Beat me to it….these make a GREAT double feature.

  7. I loved “Battleground”. The scene where the troops meet up with “fellow Americans”, only to find out they’re Germans was great. Fine cast of some of Hollywood’s legends, a standout film.

  8. Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, The Boys in Company C, A Midnight Clear

    • None of which are WW II films, Bronco.

      • Your mostly right, I forgot the subject of this thread. But, A Midnight Clear is definitely set in World War ll. And is an excellent film.

  9. “The War Lover” and “Hell Is For Heroes”. Two Steve McQueen flicks…both excellent.

  10. The Longest Day
    When Trumpets Fade – HBO
    Band of Brothers – HBO
    Pacific – HBO
    To Hell And Back

  11. I’ve GOT to mention “Wings of Eagles” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It ENDS during WW II, anyway.

  12. No Man Is an Island

  13. Sahara, Bogey at his best

  14. Patton, America’s most famous general?….MacArthur,Grant,Eisenhower,Leeechnically not American, but Confederate,and #1 Washington?