The Consensus 100 Greatest War Movies

May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#21
83. The Train (1965)

SYNOPSIS: A cultured Nazi officer (Paul Scofield) is determined to get stolen French art works out of Paris to safety in Germany by train. The French Resistance goes to great lengths to delay the train carrying the paintings. Resistance member / railroad inspector Labiche (Burt Lancaster) engineers the elaborate plan which involves rerouting the train and even staging a spectacular collision.

BACK-STORY: “The Train” is a war movie directed by John Frankenheimer that was released in 1964. It is based on a non-fiction book entitled "Le Front de l’Art" by Rose Valland. The film was originally helmed by Arthur Penn, but co-producer and star Burt Lancaster axed him because Penn wanted to make more of a character study and Lancaster insisted the action be revved up. The film was shot on location in France. No models were used. Those are all real trains crashing and getting blown up. The air bombardment of the marshalling yard was symbiotic because the French government wanted the area cleared anyway. (That less than one minute scene required fifty men wiring TNT for six weeks.) Lancaster (51) did all of his stunts. This included sliding down a hillside. When he injured his knee stepping in a hole while golfing, it was written into the script that he would be wounded while fleeing under fire. One scene where the train races into a tunnel to avoid a strafing Spitfire was added to have an additional action sequence. Frankenheimer was almost killed when the helicopter he was filming from came within ten feet of being hit by the Spitfire.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, Cinema Retro #6

1.Burt Lancaster had original director Arthur Penn fired after three days and replaced with John Frankenheimer.Frankenheimer envisioned the movie as a character study of the men of the Resistance, but Lancaster insisted on it being also about the trains.
2.The marshalling yard bombardment scene involved 140 explosions, a ton of TNT, 2,000 gallons of gasoline, and 22 cameras.It took the explosives expert six weeks to set the explosives.The French railway allowed the destruction because they wanted to destroy the yard, but did not have the funding.
3.Lancaster sprained his knee stepping in a hole while playing golf.Frankenheimer dealt with it by having Labiche get wounded while crossing the pedestrian bridge.
4.It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
5.Lancaster performed all his stunts.
6.The movie is loosely based on a saving a train full of art, but in reality the train was routed around Paris until the Allies took the city.
7.Train Magazine chose it as the #1 train movie in its 100 Greatest Train Movies issue.
8.No models were used in the filming.
9.In the train derailment, the train was going too fast and wiped out almost all of the cameras.
10.The Spitfire strafing the train before it entered the tunnel was added after the studio felt the movie needed one more action scene.It almost ended in disaster when the Spitfire came within thirty feet of hitting the helicopter Frankenheimer was filming in.His wife fainted.
11.The original ending had Labiche and Von Waldheim shooting it out.
12.Lancaster (who had been a circus performer) did all his own stunts.
13.It is based on the book by Rose Villand who was a French art historian and member of the Resistance.She secretly recorded Nazi plundering of art and helped save thousands of works.She is in “The Monuments Men” as Clair Simone.
14.This was the second time Frankenheimer took over a Lancaster film for a fired director.The first was “Birdman of Alcatraz”.He demanded the film be entitled “John Frankenheimer’s The Train”.He also demanded total control over the final cut and a Ferrari.When the last scene in “Seven Days in May” had to be reshot, it was done in Paris where “The Train” was shooting and Lancaster’s character gets into the Ferrari to drive off.
15.The producers purchased 4 locomotives, 40 railroad cars, 7 railroad buildings, and various German weapons and vehicles.

Belle and Blade = 4.0
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 5.0
War Movies = 4.4
Military History = #62
Channel 4 = not on list
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no

OPINION: “The Train” is one of the greatest guy movies and perhaps the greatest if you are a guy who loves trains. Lancaster turns in one of his best performances and his physicality is a highlight. It has suspense, but it is not just an action movie. It has a provocative theme that questions whether works of art are worth human lives. It is probably underrated at #83 and is certainly better than several of the movies that are ranked higher. As you will see.
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#22
82.Empire of the Sun(1987)

SYNOPSIS: When the International Settlement in Shanghai is occupied by the Japanese in 1941, spoiled rich kid Jamie Graham is separated from his parents. He finds a surrogate father in the Fagin-like black marketeer Basie (John Malkovich). When they are captured by the Japanese and placed in a camp, Jamie is torn between the part of the camp that has families in it and the part that is single white males run by the King Rat-like Basie. Jamie treats his life as something of a bizarre summer camp.

BACK-STORY: “Empire” was based on a biography by J.G. Ballard. It was published in 1984. Originally, Warner Brothers tapped Harold Becker to direct and when he dropped out, David Lean took over with Spielberg as producer. Lean decided the source material was too much like a diary, so he turned directing over to Spielberg who was much more enamored with the book than he was. Spielberg jumped at the chance because of his admiration for Lean’s films (especially “Bridge on the River Kwai” which it resembles). Spielberg also loved WWII topics. This was his third WWII movie after “1941” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It incorporated common Spielberg themes like separation of a child from his parents (Spielberg was deeply affected by his parents’ divorce when he was 14) and coming of age. Loss of innocence is also a theme of the movie. The movie was filmed at a studio in the United Kingdom and on location in Spain and Shanghai (the Chinese government allowed the first movie filming there since the 1940s). 5,000 Chinese extras were used. The movie was not a box office success.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb

1.Three authentic P-51s were used. They dropped plaster-filled mock 500 pound bombs in the movie.
2.Spielberg’s father had been a radio operator on a B-25 Mitchell in the China-Burma Theater.
3.Christian Bale was cast over 4,000 auditionees partly because author J.G. Ballard felt he resembled him at that age.Bale was suggested by Amy Irving (Spielberg’s wife at that time) who had co-starred with him in “Anastasia:The Mystery of Anna”.
4.AcademyAward nominations for:Art Direction, Cinematography, Editing, Original Music Score, Costume Design, and Sound.
5.One of the Zeros (which were actually modified Harvard SJN trainers) was flown by Tom Danaher, a Marine night fighter pilot from WWII who shot down the last Japanese bomber in the war.
6.The scene where Jim is tucked in by his parents was modelled after the Norman Rockwell painting for FDR’s “Freedom from Fear”.The painting is on the wall in the prison camp.
7.Ballard appears as an extra in the party scene.

Belle and Blade = 2.5
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 3.8
War Movies = N/A
Military History = not on list
Channel 4 = #43
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes

OPINION: “Empire of the Sun” is a fine coming of age tale set in wartime. It features a career-boosting performance by child actor Christian Bale and has an indelible performance by Malkovich. It’s audience is not really war movie fans. It is a typical Spielberg movie in that it does not dare to show the real horrors that the foreign civilians must have gone through. This is not “Schindler’s List”. On the other hand, it avoids some of the schmaltzy elements of most of Spielberg’s films. It is not as good as the similar “Hope and Glory” and is overrated at #82. I would not have it in the top 100.
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#23
81.Life Is Beautiful (1997)

SYNOPSIS: It is a Holocaust dramedy set in Italy. Roberto Begnini plays a charming Jew who is sent to a concentration camp with his young son. His wife is in another part of the camp. He manages to communicate with her over the camp’s speaker system. He shields his son from the realities of the camp by convincing him that the camp is the elaborate setting for a game. Comedy (?) ensues.

BACK-STORY: “Life is Beautiful” is an Italian film that was directed and co-written by Roberto Begnini. He also starred in it. Begnini loosely based the movie on the book In the End, I Beat Hitler by Rubino Romeo Salmoni. He also was inspired by his own father’s stories from WWII. He was in the Italian army and switched sides when his country went over to the Allies. Unfortunately, the elder Begnini was captured by the Germans and put in a labor camp. He would tell his kids humorous stories to distract them. The movie was a big hit and critically acclaimed. It won the Grand Prix at Cannes. It was nominated for six Academy Awards and won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Original Dramatic Score, and Actor.

TRIVIA:Wikipedia, imdb, Shmoop

1.Roberto Benigni wrote the screenplay partly based on his father who spent two years in a German labor camp in WWII.His father told his children about his experiences using humor.
2.The movie was nominated for Oscars for: Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing.It won for:Actor, Foreign Language Film, Original Dramatic Score.
3.Guido’s wife Dora was played by Benigni’s wife Nicoletta Braschi.
4.The title comes from a line Trotsky said to his wife in Mexico around the time he was assassinated by Stalin’s agents.
5.It was the second time a Best Actor winner was directed by himself.The first was Laurence Olivier in “Hamlet”.
6.The movie was only the second time a picture was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film.The first was “Z” in 1969.
7.Benigni was only the fourth person nominated for Director, Actor, and Screenplay.The others were Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”), Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”), and Warren Beatty (“Heaven Can Wait” and “Reds”).
8.Benigni was the second actor to win Best Actor for a Foreign Film.First was Sophia Loren for “Two Women”.
9.Benigni is in the select company of Best Actor winners who also got a Razzie (for “Pinocchio”).The others were Halle Berry, Kevin Costner, Liza Minelli, Sandra Bullock, and Laurence Olivier.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 3.1
War Movies = N/A
Military History = not on list
Channel 4 = #56
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes

OPINION:Holocaust movies are a significant subgenre inside the war movie genre. These movies have a much higher percentage of good movies than any other subgenre. Compare it to the submarine subgenre, for instance. The high quality, in general, is probably a product of the seriousness of the topic. Rarely do you see a Holocaust movie that does not take the event seriously. This movie is one of those rare examples. Begnini plays the Holocaust for laughs and the critics loved it. I didn’t. The movie is terribly overrated. I do not say that because it has humor in it. I say that because the humor is grating, as is the over the top performance of Begnini. He would argue the movie is supposed to be a fairy tale, but I would argue it is still too soon to treat the tragedy as a humorous fairy tale. This movie does not belong in the top 100 war films, especially since several excellent Holocaust movies did not make the list.
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#24
80.Twelve O’Clock High

SYNOPSIS: "Twelve O'Clock High" is an aerial combat film centering on the American daylight bombing campaign of WWII in Europe. The commander of a hard luck B-17 squadron is fired because he is too sympathetic about the nearly suicidal demands made on his air crews. His replacement (Gregory Peck) believes tough discipline and success in bombing raids will build the morale of the unit. It's rough going as the airmen react with a virtual mutiny.

BACK-STORY: “Twelve O’Clock High” is a war movie dedicated to American bomber crews and command in England in 1942. It is based on the novel by Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr. It was made with the full cooperation of the Air Force which provided several B-17s and combat footage including from the Luftwaffe. The movie was a hit with the critics and won two Academy Awards (Jagger for Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Recording) and was nominated for two others (Best Picture and Peck for Actor). It takes its name from the slang for enemy fighters being spotted above and straight ahead.

TRIVIA: Classic Movie Hub, Guts and Glory, Wikipedia, imdb

1.The term “twelve o’clock high” refers to the position of German fighters.If you imagine the bomber as the center of a clock, twelve o’clock would be directly ahead and six o’clock is directly to the rear.“High” refers to the position of the fighter relative to the bomber’s elevation.So the title means the attacker is in front of and above the bomber.
2.John Wayne turned down the role and many other leading men were considered until Gregory Peck landed it.Peck was not originally interested because he felt it was too much like “Command Decision”.He changed his mind when he decided he wanted to work with director Henry King.They made five more movies after it.
3.The Robin Hood mug prop became a prized possession of Frank Armstrong’s family.It was stolen in a break-in and never recovered.
4.The book had a romantic subplot that was removed to concentrate on the psychological impact of aerial bombing and the pressures of command.
5.Maj. Joe Cobb was based on Paul Tibbetts, the pilot of the Enola Gay.
6.The 918th Bombing Group was based on the 306th which was the first bombing group to bomb Germany (Wilhelmshaven).Frank Armstrong (the Savage character) led the mission.
7.The release was postponed several months because of the similarly themed “Command Decision”.
8.Stunt pilot Paul Mantz was paid the astronomical sum of $4,500 for the belly-crash landing.The footage was reused in “The War Lover” and “Midway”. Mantz was the premiere Hollywood stunt pilot and had performed more than 90 crashes.For this one he rigged up the controls so he could fly the plane alone.
9.The Air Force was very happy with the script and suggested only three significant revisions.It did not want Savage’s breakdown to be irrational and hysterical, so the scene was changed to a more subtle slide into a comatose state.It asked that the drinking be toned down and that the Chaplain observe a poker game instead of participating.
10.The USAF provided twelve obsolete B-17s from its Air Service Rescue.
11.The movie was filmed in black and white to seamlessly incorporate aerial footage.
12.The movie became required viewing at all the service academies and for leadership seminars.
13.It won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Dean Jagger) and Sound Recording.It was nominated for Best Actor (Peck) and Picture (losing to “All the King’s Men”).
14.The movie has no score backing the scenes.

Belle and Blade = 5.0
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 4.4
War Movies = 5.0
Military History = #72
Channel 4 = not on list
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no

OPINION:“Twelve O’Clock High” is a classic war film. It does not have much action, but it is very well written and acted. The cast is great and Peck gives one of his best performances. It has a depth to it that you rarely see in a black and white WWII movie. It covers the stress of the air bombardment of Germany and even rolls into PTSD. It is thought-provoking as it covers different styles of command. It is not surprising that it was used for teaching leadership. I feel it should be ranked much higher.
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#25
79. The Story of G.I. Joe

SYNOPSIS: This is the story of famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith). He hooks up with a unit in Tunisia and then reunites with it in Italy. It's a dogfaces' view of the war with no big battles, but a realistic portrayal of soldier life.

BACK-STORY: “The Story of G.I. Joe” was released in 1945 and is based on the columns of war correspondent Ernie Pyle. It was directed by William Wellman who had been a pilot in the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI and at first refused to do a movie about the despised infantry until he met Pyle and saw the adoration the infantry had for him. Once on board, Wellman insisted on realism and convinced the Army to loan him 150 soldiers training near the production. The movie also used several actual war correspondents. So the actors would not look foolish alongside real soldiers, Wellman put them through the first actors’ boot camp. Sadly, Pyle was killed before the opening of the movie and many of the real soldiers were killed on Okinawa. For this reason, Wellman never watched the movie after its release. The movie was a hit and is considered one of the most realistic war films. It was nominated for four Oscars (Supporting Actor - Mitchum, Song (“Linda” by Ann Ronell), Score, and Screenplay).

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, TCM

1. Also known as “Ernie Pyle’s Story of G.I. Joe”.
2. James Gleeson and Walter Brennan were considered for the role of Pyle. Burgess Meredith was chosen because he was the lesser known and Pyle wanted him. The Army refused to release Meredith, but Harry Hopkins intervened and Gen. George Marshall approved his honorable discharge. He spent some time with Pyle at his home in New Mexico where Pyle was recovering from being in France for the terrible friendly bombing incident at the start of Operation Cobra.
3. Nine war correspondents acted as technical advisers (besides Pyle himself). Three of them had speaking roles in the scene where Pyle finds out he has won the Pulitzer Prize.
4. William Wellman had been a pilot in the Lafayette Flying Corps in WWI. He hated the infantry and did not want to have anything to do with directing the movie. Producer Lester Cowan persisted and even showed up with presents for Wellman’s children. He was not impressed. Cowan got Pyle to write to and later call Wellman, but it wasn’t until Wellman spent some time with Pyle that he changed his mind.
5. Wellman’s wife Dorothy plays Wingless Murphy’s bride.
6. Cowan saw the movie as the Army’s answer to the movie “Air Force”.
7. The movie reenacts Pyle’s most famous column: “The Death of Captain Waskow”.
8. The Army provided 150 extras. The men were back in the U.S. after serving in Italy. They were being trained for redeployment in the Pacific. Many of the men ended up dying on Okinawa. Pyle himself was killed by a Japanese sniper during that campaign. He did not live to see the movie. Several of the extras were given speaking roles because Wellman wanted real G.I.s speaking the lines.
9. The creator of the G.I. Joe doll got the name from this movie.
10. Freddie Steele, who played Warnicki, had been World Middleweight Boxing Champ in 1937.
11. Eisenhower felt it was the best WWII film.
12. The screenplay was based on columns from Pyle’s book Here Is Your War.
13. Cowan’s first choice for director was John Huston base on his wartime documentaries like “The Battle of San Pietro”, but the Army refused to release him.

Belle and Blade = 2.5
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 5.0
War Movies = 4.4
Military History = #45
Channel 4 = not on list
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies=no

OPINION:This is another classic black and white WWII movie similar to “Twelve O’Clock High”. It honors the greatest war correspondent in WWII and Ernie Pyle must have been happy with the modest portrayal of him. Because it does not aim at entertaining through action, it can give a realistic look at the actual experiences that G.I.s went through. This is exactly what Pyle did in his columns. It’s ranking seems about right.
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#26
78.She Wore a Yellow Ribbon


SYNOPSIS: A soon to retire trooper (John Wayne) has an action-packed last few weeks as the Southern Cheyenne have left their reservation and are on the war path. Throw in a love triangle involving the commanding officer's daughter and two wooing troopers and we have one of John Ford's iconic Westerns.

BACK-STORY: “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” is a western/war movie released in 1949. It was the second of John Ford’s cavalry trilogy and the only one in color. The other two were “Fort Apache” and “Rio Grande”. All three starred John Wayne. The movie was set in Monument Valley. Ford used the paintings of Frederick Remington for inspiration and ideas. The title is a song associated with the U.S. Cavalry and alludes to the cavalryman giving his love a yellow ribbon. One of the stars is the horse “Steel” ridden by Ben Johnson. This horse was popular with western stars. The movie was awarded the Oscar for Best Color Cinematography to Winton Hoch. The film was a big hit.


TRIVIA:Wikipedia, imdb, TCM

1.It was the second in John Ford’s cavalry trilogy coming between “Fort Apache” and “Rio Grande”.
2.Cinematographer Winton Hoch based some of the scenes on sculptures and paintings by Frederic Remington.This means the film links the two men most responsible for our image of the West – John Ford and Frederic Remington.Hoch won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color.Part of the reason for his win is the iconic thunder storm scene.Supposedly, Hoch was shutting down filming when the storm appeared on the horizon.Ford demanded he continue shooting despite Hoch claiming the lighting was not sufficient and mentioning the threat of lightning.Hoch filed a complaint with the American Society of Cinematographers.
3.Ford did not want John Wayne because he was uncomfortable with Wayne playing a character twenty years older.Wayne was 41 at the time.Ford changed his mind after seeing Wayne in “Red River”, remarking that the SOB could actually act.
4.Wayne felt it was one of his favorite roles and thought he should have been nominated for Brittles instead of Stryker in “Sandsof Iwo Jima”.He was bitter due to the critics not praising him for expanding his range and claimed that the result caused him to never stretch again.“The Searchers” seems to refute this.
5.Ben Johnson rode the famous horse “Steel”.“Steel” had a lot of charisma, but was easy to ride.The horse made a lot of money for Johnson’s father-in-law who ran a horse-renting business.If you wanted to use “Steel”, you had to rent all the other horses from him.“Steel” had his own double for galloping scenes.He was ridden by Wayne in “Tall in the Saddle”, Gregory Peck in “Yellow Sky”, and Randolph Scott in “The Tall T”.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = 3.8
War Movies = N/A
Military History = #55
Channel 4 = not on list
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no

OPINION:“She Wore Yellow Ribbon” is an entertaining Western, but it is not a war movie and does not belong on this list. I have a problem with taking a movie that is firmly in one genre and then putting it on a list of great movies in another genre. There are few Westerns that I feel can clearly be considered war movies and Westerns. A rare example of this hybrid would be “Son of the Morning Star” which is specifically and accurately about a battle in the Indian Wars (the Battle of Little Big Horn).
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#27
77. Catch-22

SYNOPSIS: "Catch-22" is a satire set in WWII. The setting is an air base in the Mediterranean. The main character (Alan Arkin) is suffering from PTSD and wants to be declared insane so he can stop flying the hazardous missions. Unfortunately, the fact that he knows the situation is insanely dangerous means that he is sane enough to go on missions. The squadron is filled with odd-balls, including incompetent, scheming commanders and a war profiteer which allows the movie to satirize command and capitalism.

BACK-STORY: Mike Nichols ("Charlie Wilson's War") took on one of the more difficult novels when he decided to make "Catch-22". Joseph Heller's novel is nonlinear and full of bizarre characters and labyrinthian dialogue. Buck Henry wrote the screenplay and Heller assembled an eclectic cast. Paramount gave Nichols a big budget and he used part of it to get 17 vintage B-25 Mitchell bombers. Six months were spent on the camerawork for the bombers alone. This required 1,500 flight hours. Unfortunately, little of the footage made it into the film as it is not an aerial combat movie. It is an anti-war satire that is often compared to "M*A*S*H", which was released the same year. It was this coincidental release that probably contributed to the box office failure of "Catch-22". The increasing unpopularity of the Vietnam War seemingly left room for only one successful war satire and the public chose "M*A*S*H".

TRIVIA:Wikipedia, imdb, Guts and Glory

1.Joseph Heller was pleased with the film and praised the changes and additions by screenwriter Buck Henry.
2.The aerial sequences took six months and 1,500 hours of flying time.All of this resulted in ten minutes of screen time.
3.The film used 17 flyable B-25 Mitchell bombers.
4.The Second Unit Director John Jordan refused to use a safety harness to film from one of the bombers and fell to his death.
5.This was the first American movie to show a character (Martin Balsam's Col. Cathcart) on the toilet.Balsam claims it is the greatest moment of his career.Just kidding.
6.This was Art Garfunkel's first film.Paul Simon was supposed to also appear, but his role got cut.The film caused Garfunkel to be late for a recording session with his partner and Simon wrote a critical song about Art because of this.
7.Heller was a bombardier on B-25s. On one mission, a gunner was wounded and bled all over him.

Belle and Blade = 5.0
Brassey's = 3.0
Video Hound = 3.1
War Movies = 4.4
Military History = not on list
Channel 4 = #42
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes

OPINION: "Catch-22" did not get a lot of love when it was released, but it's reputation has gone up over the years. Having read the book, it is a worthy effort to bring a complex story to the screen. Buck Henry's screenplay actually makes some improvements, while keeping much of the dialogue from the book. The cast is excellent and the characters are intriguing. It has several scenes that are iconic. It seems well-placed at #77.
 
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#29
76. Oh! What a Lovely War

SYNOPSIS: “Oh! What a Lovely War” is a unique war musical. Based on a play, it was directed with flair by Richard Attenborough. The movie intercuts between the five Smith brothers who are enthusiastic volunteers, but soon to be cannon fodder, and the generals and leader who put them in the trenches. The script mixes a large number of period songs and actual quotes from the historical figures who were to blame for Great War being so horrendous. The cast is filled with familiar British stars.

BACK-STORY: “Oh! What a Lovely War” was the child of author Len Deighton. He became enthused with the project after he saw the hit play “Oh What a Lovely War” by the esteemed Joan Littlewood. Littlewood had adapted a radio play by Charles Chilton entitled “The Long Long Trail”. Chilton used only period music and quotes. Deighton wrote his screenplay along with producing. In a fit of pique over others wanting credits for work they did not do (including Attenborough getting a producing credit he did not earn), he had his name removed from the screenwriting credit. Attenborough was chosen over Gene Kelly to direct even though it was his debut. Deighton insisted Attenborough agree not to make any changes in the script. A promise he kept. Historian A.J.P. Taylor acted as historical consultant on both the play and the movie. Most of the movie was filmed on the West Pier in Brighton.

TRIVIA: wikipefia, imdb
1.Because the Beatles were interested in making an anti-war movie, Paul McCartney met with producer Len Deighton about playing the Smith boys.It could not be arranged.
2.The 16,000 crosses for the final scene were put in pre-dug holes.
3.The song “La Chanson de Craonne” is about the French army mutiny of 1917.The singing of it was deemed an act of mutiny and it was banned in France in 1974.The French government offered a million franc reward for revealing the author of the song.
4.No one is shown dying in the film.There is no blood.
5.The trench scenes were shot at Brighton Municipal Rubbish Dump, in spite of the stench.
6.The song “The Moon Shines Bright on Charlie Chaplin” was part of a campaign in Great Britain to criticize him for not volunteering for the war.Actually, Chaplin was turned down because he was puny.
7.Every time a poppy appears, someone dies.Starting with Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
8.There are 37 songs in the movie.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 3.0
Video Hound = N/A
War Movies = N/A
Military History = not on list
Channel 4 = #40
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes

OPINION: As you can see above, “Oh! What a Lovely War” is not a well-known war movie. This is perplexing because it is the best in its subgenre of war musicals. It is one of the most clearly anti-war films ever made. If you know little of WWI, this movie will fill in some of the gaps. It is also a great primer on WWI songs. It belongs much higher on the list, but I am happy that it made the list at all.
 
Likes: Pandra
May 2011
516
New Iberia, La.
#30
75. The Tin Drum (1979)

SYNOPSIS: "The Tin Drum" is an extremely bizarre movie about a young Polish boy who does not age. He is uncommunicative other than playing his tin drum. He and his family live in Nazi-occupied Danzig. He and his dysfunctional family go through some incidents with the war as the back drop. For instance, he spends separate stints with circus midgets and little people entertainers.

BACK-STORY: “The Tin Drum” is a 1979 German war movie based on the novel by Gunter Grass. The movie is set in WWII Danzig. It was directed by Volker Schlandorff. It is one of the most critically acclaimed war films of the 1970s. It shared the Palme d’Or with “Apocalypse Now” at Cannes and won the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb

1. The movie was filmed mostly in West Germany. The Soviets allowed only brief filming in Gdansk, Poland because the book was banned in the Eastern Bloc.
2. It was the first German film to win the Best Foreign Film Oscar.
3. There is a controversial underage sex scene that caused an Oklahoma County District Judge to rule the movie contained child pornography. Without search warrants or a court order, Oklahoma City police raided libraries and rental outlets to confiscate copies of the VHS. They got addresses of customers and went to their houses to get the copies. The District Attorney threatened to arrest anyone with a copy. The ACLU got involved and federal courts ended the censorship.
4. The movie was also banned in parts of Canada.
5. David Bennent had a condition that caused him to age slowly. He was an 11 year old playing a 16 year old. The sex scene was with Katharina Thalbach, who was 24 at the time.

Belle and Blade = N/A
Brassey’s = 4.0
Video Hound = N/A
War Movies = N/A
Military History = #60
Channel 4 = not on list
Film Site = yes
101 War Movies = no

OPINION: In 1979 at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, two war movies tied for the top prize. One of them is a great movie, the other is “The Tin Drum”. That’s right – just as many Cannes film experts chose this movie as chose “Apocalypse Now”! I am not a film expert, I can only speak as a war movie lover who has seen a lot of war movies. “The Tin Drum” is like a bad poem that no one wants to groan at because they think it will make them seem uncultured. This situation reminds me of the old tale “The Emperor Has No Clothes”. I’m the guy in the crowd yelling “The Tin Drum” is naked!
 
Likes: Fiver

Similar History Discussions