Here Are My All Time Favorite War Movies
I am a huge fan of war movies. Ever since I saw the John Wayne movie "The Flying Tigers" when it was played in my grade school gym for ten cents admission in 1950, I was hooked. I don't claim to have seen every war movie but I've seen any I could. We don't have nearly enough room here for me to review all that I've seen, so how about I give you my idea of the best movie representation from each war we've been in since the Revolution. Here we go with that first war...
AMERICAN REVOLUTION- "The Patriot" 2000
There really haven't been a lot of movies about the Revolutionary War. Al Pacino and Donald Sutherland were in "Revolution" in 1985 that wasn't very good. The musical "1776" was popular but wasn't a real war movie but "The Patriot" is well worth watching.
THE WAR OF 1812 - "The Buccaneer" 1958
Not too many movies were made about the War of 1812. Probably the best was "The Buccaneer" starring Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson. He didn't sound like Old Hickory but looked like him. This movie was probably helped by the release of the hit country tune "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton the same year as the movie came out.
MEXICAN WAR - "The Alamo" 1960
Most of the movies about the US-Mexican War focus on the classic battle of the Alamo in 1836. I saw John Wayne in "the Alamo" when I was a senior in high school and even though the truth was stretched quite a bit, the action scenes, equipment and actors were very entertaining. I had expected great things from the 2004 Ron Howard movie "The Alamo" but it didn't deliver. I still liked the 1960 John Wayne more than the 2004 Billy Bob Thornton. The 1960 version won the academy Award for best picture.
THE CIVIL WAR - "Gettysburg" 1993
There are several good Civil War movies. The first one I saw was "Gone With the Wind" ( didn't everybody see it ?) It came out in 1939 but didn't make it to my home town until 1956. It was really a romance story set in the Civil War. "Lincoln" was another that could be considered but it was more about Lincoln than the war. My favorite is a toss-up between "Glory" (which is the historically accurate story of the all African American 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry) and the TV movie " Gettysburg". As a Civil War buff I was really impressed with the battle scenes in "Gettysburg" as thousands of reenactors of both sides portrayed the three day battle. If the makeup department of the mini series had done a better job with beards and hair, ''Gettysburg" would have perfect. Maybe it should have been named, "Whiskers".
NATIVE AMERICAN MOVIES - "Dances With Wolves" 1990
I can't tell you how much I like this movie. "Dances" was the only movie about Native Americans to win best picture. One of my great-great-grandfathers was Native American and that little part of me can't get enough of this Kevin Costner movie. If you haven't seen it yet, please do.
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR - "Rough Riders" - 1997
Not a lot to choose from here. The war only lasted a few months in 1898. Not many movies have been made about the conflict even though the US ended up with an empire that included Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands. Most accounts of the war center on the charge up San Juan hill in Cuba that made one of the participants, Teddy Roosevelt, president. The Turner TV mini series "Rough Riders" covers the San Juan Hill episode with Tom Berenger playing Roosevelt and co-starring Sam Elliot and Gary Busey.
WORLD WAR I - "1917" - 2019
"1917" beat out 2011's "War Horse" with the 1930 movie "All Quiet on the Western Front" a close third. All are very realistic. All good. "1917" won 10 academy awards including best picture. "War Horse" won best picture. "All Quiet" won the Academy Award for best picture. We love our war movies!
WORLD WAR II - "Saving Private Ryan" - 1998
Is it possible for a movie to be too good? Many WWII vets had to leave "Saving Private Ryan" especially during the opening sequence. The movie won eight Academy Awards including best director.
KOREAN WAR - "Mash" - 1970
"Mash" won the 1971 academy award for best picture and spawned the TV series. Only Gary Burghoff, who played "Radar", was in both the movie and the TV series, which lasted 11 seasons.
VIET NAM WAR - "Full Metal Jacket" - 1987
If there wasn't any other scene in this movie except for R. Lee Ermy as Gunnery Sargant Hartmann, it would have been a great movie. Being a radio DJ, I also am partial to the 1987 movie "Good Morning Vietnam." Robin Williams was nominated for an academy award in that one. He should've won.
IRAQ WAR - "The Hurt Locker" - 2008
A movie about courage. Best Picture award, best director. Best everything.
WAR IN AFGHANISTAN - "Lone Survivor" - 2013
Mark Walberg is the lone survivor in this movie based on a true story. A four man Navy Seal team is searching for a Taliban leader and is whittled down to one. Didn't win any Oscars but it was exciting.