Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans on Film

Today is Veterans' Day, and it seems worthwhile to list some of my favorite film portrayals of the valor and sacrifices and successes of American servicemen.

American Sniper – the story of brave and dedicated American soldiers fighting against vicious, fanatical, nihilistic Islamist warriors during the Iraq War.

Tears of the Sun – a team of Navy Seals undertakes a dangerous goodwill rescue mission in Africa.

We Were Soldiers – the harrowing account of one of the early battles in the American Vietnam War.

Go Tell the Spartans – Bert Lancaster leads a small force holding out against the Viet Cong.

Platoon – American soldiers fight to survive in Vietnam.

Pork Chop Hill – A brave American unit fighting the Chinese communists in the Korean War.

Band of Brothers – The masterpiece 11-hour treatment of the Stephen Ambrose book about a unit of the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles, in the European Theater of WW2, made pre-911 by Spielberg before he later devolved into the anti-American moral equivalency state-of-mind.  

A Bridge Too Far – Epic treatment of the Allies' failed Operation Market Garden initiative in 1944 Europe, aimed at penetrating into Germany itself.  

The Bridge at Remagen – War-weary American soldiers fight toward the Rhine River in early 1945 and ultimately capture the last remaining bridge into Germany.

Saving Private Ryan – The story of a special mission behind German lines in northern France in the days immediately after D-Day.

The Big Red One – The story of a squad of the 1st Infantry Division as it fights across North Africa, Sicily, and France in WW2.

The Battle of the Bulge – Epic adaptation of the American resilience in the face of the German Army's last gasp in the West during WW2.

Miracle at St. Anna – The story of four black American soldiers caught behind German lines in northern Italy late in WW2 fighting to keep themselves and local villagers alive, a story not over until it explodes into a modern murder mystery.

Fury – A recent film about an American tank crew late in WW2, very good until its unrealistic and contrived grand finale shootout.

Sahara – An isolated motley group of Allied soldiers with a single Sherman tank led by Bogart battle thirst, heat, and the Germans in the North African desert during WW2.

The Enemy Below – An American destroyer chases a crafty German submarine in the North Atlantic in WW2.

U-571 – An American submarine crew fights to save themselves, the German submarine they captured and are stuck in, and a secret decoding machine in the North Atlantic in WW2.  

Memphis Belle – A B-17 crew's harrowing bombing missions over Germany.

The Bridge On the River Kwai – A lone cynical American serviceman witnesses the descent into madness and treason by British officers in a Japanese prison camp, escapes, and reluctantly returns to set things right.

Midway – The story of the great naval air battle six months after Pearl Harbor that spelled the beginning of the drawn-out end of the Japanese navy in WW2.  

Objective Burma – American soldiers create havoc behind Japanese lines in Burma.

The Pacific – The Spielberg-Hanks treatment of Americans in the Pacific Theater in WW2, that remains compelling viewing despite its lapses at times into the Anti-American moral equivalency point of view.

The Great Raid – Army Rangers on a mission to rescue American prisoners in a brutal Japanese POW camp in the Philippines late in the War.

The Lost Battalion – A outnumbered group of American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines fights off waves of German soldiers in the closing days of WW1.

What Price Glory – Ford directs Cagney and Dailey, not to mention Corrine Calvet, in a rousing story of an American infantry unit on the Western Front in WW1.

Gettysburg – The superbly told story of the greatest battle of the American Civil War.  The portrayal of the heroic 20th Maine and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at Little Round Top is special.

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