Ok continuing on from the previous post we have now got a list of our top 20 war films. There are some good films listed with Vietnam now making an appearance. What of pre-20th century subjects? Is there more to be added?

  1. Battle of Britain
  2. Waterloo
  3. Zulu
  4. A Bridge Too Far
  5. Black Book
  6. The Longest Day
  7. The Desert Fox
  8. Dambusters
  9. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  10. Das Boot
  11. Black Hawk Down
  12. Gallipoli
  13. Enigma
  14. Master and Commander
  15. Downfall
  16. We Were Soldiers
  17. Apocalypse Now
  18. Full Metal Jacket
  19. The Hurt Locker
  20. The Great Escape

Of course this is not in any rank order…


14 thoughts on “Top 20 War Films…

  1. A handful of films which I think of as war movies, but not everyone shares my opinion due to the lack of actual battle scenes are these ones.

    The Best Years of Our Lives. Although strictly speaking a post-war film, the issues of war and the damage it causes is the central theme. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036868/

    Casablanca – Perhaps one of the most effective propaganda films of WWII http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_%28film%29

    Also, Dr. Strangelove http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/

    Lawrence of Arabia http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056172/

    The African Queen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_African_Queen_%28film%29

    And for the ultimate COLD war film: The Manchurian Candidate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manchurian_Candidate_%281962_film%29

  2. Immediately sticking out like a sore thumb by their absence – In Which We Serve and The Cruel Sea. And where is Tora! Tora! Tora!? It’s not often thought of as a war film, but there is Gone With The Wind. Or Glory for a more traditional American Civil War film. And I have a lot of thime for Come And See, a harrowing portrayal of live in Nazi-occupied Byelorussia. And there are more obscure films I have a lot of time for, such as Appointment in London and The Way To The Stars.

    And given your research interests, I’m surprised that Reach for the Sky isn’t there …

  3. They may be slightly questionable in this category but Where Eagles Dare and The Eagle has Landed. It may be partly nostalgia but the latter will always be one of my favourites, full of memorable set-pieces like the waterwheel, girl on the train, dead bodies on the MTB, organ playing…

  4. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the horrible 1960’s dialogue between Caine and Baker in Zulu. The film succeeds as a good war movie in spite of this fault thanks to an excellent supporting cast (esp. Nigel Green as Colour Sergeant Bourne and James Booth as Pvt. Hook), excellent direction and cinematography.

  5. I’m sure I’m not the first to complain about lack of:
    Pork Chop Hill
    A Walk In The Sun
    Story Of G I Joe
    Iron Cross
    The Bridge (german)
    Bridge at Remagen
    Hamburger Hill
    Big Parade
    Stalingrad (russian version)
    Paths of Glory (If nothing else, just for the opening dolly shot)
    Deer Hunter
    The Trench
    Cruel Sea
    3 days of Naples
    Open City

    Against this list you could certainly drop your,7,8,14 and 20
    Special mention must be made of Lewis Milestone who directed All Quite, A walk in the Sun and Pork Chop Hill, 3 wars 3 great film about the futility of fighting. No one said it better than Norman Lloyd “In 1972 when we’re fighting the battle of Tibet”

    Paul johnson

  6. I thought about The Eagle has Landed and I think it is a great film. Why I left if off I do not know. It is certainly a war film even though the story itself is fiction. Does it show us anything about the war I think is the question.

  7. I have never been a fan of Reach for the Sky. I’m not sure why though I supect it is because I do not think Brickhill’s book on which the film is based is an accurate representation Bader. It is to unbalanced as a work.

    Ah yes Tora, Tora, Tora a good choice the same as the other. More to add to the list.

  8. Reason for dropping films”
    1,2,4,6,7&8 Just not very good as a movie, great subject matter, poorly presented Probably more realism in the opening sequence of “Saving Ryan’ than all of the above. Yes, they portrayed gallant people but they were not good movie making.
    14. To much reliance on computer graphics, distracts from the film as a visual experience
    20. Typical star turn, more money spent on casting than plot development. The whole McQueen bike thing was a side show, the tunnel was the film not the bike chase.

  9. I have recently begun a project to watch the The 100 Greatest War Movies as determined by Military History magazine. Visit my blog at “warmoviebuff.blogspot.com” to participate. For now (and this will obviously change as my project progresses) I would say:
    1. Saving Private Ryan
    2. Platoon
    3. Black Hawk Down
    4. Glory
    5. The Great Escape
    6. The Longest Day
    7. Gettysburg
    8. The Hurt Locker
    9. Master and Commander
    10. Enemy at the Gates
    11. The Last of the Mohicans
    12. A Walk in the Sun
    13. Full Metal Jacket
    14. Apocalypse Now
    15. Tropic Thunder
    16. Spartacus
    17. Tora! Tora! Tora!
    18. Das Boot
    19. Three Kings
    20. Patton

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