War Movie Miscellany

May 2011
575
New Iberia, La.
I can't vouch for historical accuracy, I liked these foreign war films:

Wooden Crosses (1932) French WW1 film


Fires On The Plain (1959) Japanese WW2 film. Doesn't get as much praise compared to the more sentimental Burmese Harp, this one is much bleaker (both directed by Kon Ichikawa)

Both are excellent films.

WOODEN CROSSES - This is a remarkable movie. Bernard directed it with flair. He is a big fan of fades. The cinematography stands out. The night scenes are nicely lit with flares providing the eerie shadowing. There are great sound effects, but I find that most WWI movies do explosions well. The bombardments are so well done that when the first assault approaches, I found myself wondering how the Hell anyone could go out into that! The sets are fine with a realistic no man’s land. One flaw is the trenches are a bit too livable. I did not see a rat and it does not rain. There is not a lot of mud. The movie does not lay the futility of the war on thick. The soldiers have some cynicism, but they do not question the war. There is no hint of the mutiny that is coming in the French army. The movie also does not take many shots at command. Both of these omissions are a bit puzzling considering Gorgeles was a veteran. The only aspect that is clearly anti-war is the death total. Unfortunately, most of the unit are not fleshed out, other than Gilbert and Sulphart. It would take repeat viewing to figure out who is dying when. The only characters that are fully developed are the main two. Both of whom are engaging. Gilbert is steady and acts as the unit’s conscience. He is Paul Baumer from the start. Sulphart provides comic relief, but he is a good soldier and a great friend. I would hope to meet someone like him if I was sent to the front.

The outstanding thing about the film is the combat. It has both quantity and quality. I have seen enough WWI movies to assure you that they seldom have very much actual fighting. This movie manages to give good treatment to both the soldier life and the battles. The attack on the village features twelve minutes of continuous balls to the wall combat. The numerous deaths are random and not the usual cheesy overacting. At one point they are defending a cemetery (similar to a scene in “All Quiet…”) and Gilbert and Sulphart take refuge in a grave. Sulphart: “They’ll bury us alive to save time.” One of the unit gets one of the great death scenes in war movie history. His last request is for Sulphart to visit his cheating wife and spit in her face!

FIRES ON THE PLAINS - If you want to watch a horror/war movie, “Fires on the Plain” may be for you. There are other horror movies set in war, but few are based on actual events. This movie is set in the Philippines in 1945 after the American invasion. The Japanese army is on the run and in terrible shape. Director Kon Ichikawa used the novel of the same name by Shohai Ooka as his source. The book and film are meant to be surrealistically anti-war. Mission accomplished. This is a fascinating movie. There are striking images throughout. The black and white is crisp. The camera angles are interesting with Achikawa using up close facial shots and also long range shots of small figures in nightmarish landscapes. The acting is good. There is some very black humor. The most important reason to see this film is it explodes the myth that all Japanese soldiers were suicidal and refused to surrender. It was naturally controversial in Japan. Watching it will make you hungry and sad. Eat something salty, but not human.
 
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May 2011
575
New Iberia, La.
BACK-STORY - Paths of Glory

“Paths of Glory” was Stanley Kubrick’s first great film. The fact that he also directed several other movies on the 100 Greatest list (“Spartacus”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Full Metal Jacket”) makes a case for his being the greatest war movie director. The movie was based on the novel by Howard Cobb which was published in 1935. The teenage Kubrick had read the book in his father’s study. Kubrick had trouble getting funding because of the depressing nature of the plot. This problem was solved when Kirk Douglas was brought on board. His production company took on the task and Douglas was paid 1/3 of the approximately $1 million budget. He was not in it for the money as Douglas was committed to the project in principle. The movie was a critical smash, but only a modest success at the box office and as predicted did not do well in Europe. In fact, it was banned in France for two decades. Incredibly, the movie received zero Academy Award nominations and is not on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list!
pathsofglory[1].jpg
 
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May 2011
575
New Iberia, La.
I think it is from "The Manchurian Candidate" (the first film, 1962).
Correct! Sinatra broke a finger in the fight scene with Henry Silva. Later, when he was up for "Dirty Harry", he could not grip the pistol properly and had to drop out.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,210
Welsh Marches
BACK-STORY - Paths of Glory

“Paths of Glory” was Stanley Kubrick’s first great film. The fact that he also directed several other movies on the 100 Greatest list (“Spartacus”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Full Metal Jacket”) makes a case for his being the greatest war movie director. The movie was based on the novel by Howard Cobb which was published in 1935. The teenage Kubrick had read the book in his father’s study. Kubrick had trouble getting funding because of the depressing nature of the plot. This problem was solved when Kirk Douglas was brought on board. His production company took on the task and Douglas was paid 1/3 of the approximately $1 million budget. He was not in it for the money as Douglas was committed to the project in principle. The movie was a critical smash, but only a modest success at the box office and as predicted did not do well in Europe. In fact, it was banned in France for two decades. Incredibly, the movie received zero Academy Award nominations and is not on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list!
View attachment 19474
Superb film in my view. Wonderful ending:

 
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May 2011
575
New Iberia, La.
TRIVIA - The Great Escape

home.bt.com
1. Bartlett is based on Squadron Leader Roger Bushell who was Cambridge-educated with British parents, but he was born and raised in South Africa. He was a great skier and the scar that Attenborough sported was based on a skiing accident he had. He was shot down on his first combat mission.
2. The tunnels were dug 30’ down to circumvent the German seismograph equipment.
3. The 200 penguins disposed of 130 tons of sand in 25,000 trips. When winter came and the sand could not be blended with the snow and hard ground, they put it under the floor of the theater the Germans allowed them to build.
4. Tom was discovered because they were rushing to complete it before the Americans were to be transferred to another camp. No Americans escaped.
5. Suspecting an escape attempt, the Germans at one point transferred 19 suspected ringleaders, but curiously not Bushell. They only netted six key members of the escape committee.
6. 600 of the total 1,500 prisoners played some role in the escape. When it was decided to get 200 out the priority was the first 30 would be prisoners who had language skills and other advantages, the next 70 were rewarded for their work, and the rest were chosen by lot.
7. Of the 50 prisoners who were caught and executed, all but seven were RAF. 22 were British, 6 were Canadians, 6 were Poles, and 4 were Australians.
8. 21 Germans were executed after the war for the war crime of executing the prisoners.
yesterday.uktv.co.uk
9. The wooden horse escape occurred one year earlier in the same camp. All three men successfully escaped which equaled the number in the Great Escape.
10. The prisoners convinced the Germans that “goons” was an acronym for “German Officer or Non-Com”. The prisoners kept log books of goon movements. The Germans knew about this and at one point a German officer asked to see a log book to check up on his men.
11. The most valuable prop was milk tins provided by the Red Cross. They were used for shovels and for the ventilation ducts.
warhistoryonline.com
12. Charles Bronson had been a coal miner and had suffered from claustrophobia. During the shoot, he fell in love with David McCallum’s wife Jill Ireland. He joked that he was going to steal her. When the McCallum’s divorced four years later, Bronson married Jill.
13. Steve McQueen got caught by a speed trap set up near the set. McQueen was upset with his amount of screen time and at one point walked out. He was not happy that Hilts did not like the whole baseball and mitt thing.
14. Donald Pleasence had been a POW in a German camp. When he first gave director Sturges advice, Sturges told him to mind his own business until he found out his background.
15. McQueen attempted the big jump but failed. His friend Bud Elkins was brought in. Elkins managed a motorcycle shop in L.A. He later did most of the stunt work on CHIPS. McQueen did the stunt where the German motorcyclist ran into the wire. McQueen was among the Germans that chased Hilts in the final jump scene through the wonders of editing.
16. James Garner based his scrounger character on his experiences in the Korean War. The barbed wire was rubber and entwined by the cast and crew during breaks.
17. McCallum and James Leyton are the only survivors of the stars. Leyton was a pop star and recorded the opening theme with lyrics.
18. Goff’s (Jud Taylor) line during the drinking scene “No taxation without representation!” was ad-libbed and took McQueen by surprise.
19. United Artists was worried about the lack of females. They wanted to have a buxom beauty cradle Ashley-Pitt when he was shot at the railway station. They suggested holding a Miss Prison Camp contest, but Sturges nixed the idea.
20. McQueen was paid $87,500, but Garner made $150,000.
great-escape-1963-001-steve-mcqueen-tangled-barbed-wire[1].jpg
 
May 2011
575
New Iberia, La.
QUOTE - “You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it’s all about. A deer’s gotta be taken with one shot.” — Michael, “The Deer Hunter” (1978)
The-Deer-Hunter-2-1600x900-c-default[1].jpg
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,249
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Here's a foreign war movie for you:


A good film, apart from one of the characters being beaten to death with what are clearly rubber mallets.
 
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Mar 2019
1,856
Kansas
14. Donald Pleasence had been a POW in a German camp. When he first gave director Sturges advice, Sturges told him to mind his own business until he found out his background.
I saw an interview with Pleasence about this. His main complaint apparently was the uniforms the prisoners made for the escape looked far newer and realistic than the ones they could have actually made.
 
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May 2011
575
New Iberia, La.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION - RIDE WITH THE DEVIL

“Ride with the Devil” is a war movie about the Civil War in Missouri. It is a film by Ang Lee based on a novel by Daniel Woodrill entitled Woe to Live On. It brings light to a theater of the war that seldom gets coverage. The war in Missouri was like the evil twin of the Civil War.

The main characters are Southern sympathizers who join the Bushwhackers. The Bushwhackers are guerrillas who call themselves the Missouri Irregulars. As with most irregulars throughout history, they are ill-disciplined and take on mostly soft targets, meaning civilians. Their Northern equivalents are called Jayhawkers. Both sides commit atrocities which breed retaliatory atrocities. Violent bushwhacking leads to a big raid on Lawrence, Kansas. There’s a romance thrown in, but it’s mostly a buddies on the run sort of film.

“Ride with the Devil” is one of the better Civil War movies. It is well-balanced with action, romance, and character development. The action is dynamic and intense. The romance is not syrupy, but rings true. The cinematography is sumptuous. Lee likes to juxtapose the vibrant greens of the forests with bright red shirts. Most importamtly, it is admirably accurate in portraying the civil war within the Civil War.

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