Top World War II Movies
The Western Front
1939 - 1945
93 9.2 01. Band of Brothers (2001)
Closely follows the story of the men of Easy Company (US 101st Airbourne infantry) featuring the main events they went through during the war.
What hasn't already been said about this series, a must watch if you even have the slightest of interest in World War Two, outstanding series giving recognition to true heroes.
2nd Lt. George Rice: "Looks like you guys are going to be surrounded."
Maj. Winters: "We're paratroopers, Lieutenant. We're supposed to be surrounded."
500 8.5 02. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
73 8.4 03. Downfall (2005)
A very accurate German film about the downfall of Hitler and the Nazi's. Bruno Ganz's performance as Hitler is first class, one of the best WWII films for sure.
'Generation War' (2013) is another solid media piece worthy of a mention that is from the co-producers of Downfall, it is a three part series that follows the experiences of five friends through the war. Although at times some of the situations in which they end up in and meet are highly unlikely it is nonetheless a very well made and captivating watch.
32 9 04. Schindlers List (1993)
152 8.5 05. The Pianist (2003)
33 8.7 06. Das Boot (Directors Cut) (1981)
38 8.2 07. The Longest Day (1962)
25 8.5 08. A Bridge Too Far (1977)
76 8.1 09. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
57 7.8 010. Patton (1970)
1026 8 8.311. The Great Escape (1963)
19 7.8 012. Battle of Britain (1969)
6 8.3 013. The Dam Busters (1954)
Outstanding invention (the bouncing bomb), Great movie for the time. I believe a remake is on the way as well which is good news... I hope.
(B & W)
Another great classic British WW2 film is 'The Cruel Sea' (1953). This movie follows a British Naval Officer as he deals with life at sea protecting Allied convoys and hunting German U-boats.
11 8.5 014. Where Eagles Dare (1968)
15 8.4 015. Kelly's Heroes (1970)
46 8 016. The Dirty Dozen (2000)
23 7.5 017. Valkyrie (2009)
20 7.3 018. Black Book (2006)
36 7.6 019. Defiance (2009)
128 7.1 7.420. Max Manus: Man of War (2008)
4 7 021. Flame And Citron (2008)
18 7.4 022. Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (2006)
30 8.5 023. The Big Red One (Reconstruction) (1980)
6 7 024. The Bridge (Die Brucke) (re-release) (1959)
A German film based on a true story of German teenagers defending a bridge in their home town in the final days of Nazi Germany. A great film for its time, with some well worked cinematography, not a great deal of action. Nevertheless it is not an action film, it is a hard hitting film showing the absurdities of war.
(B & W)
There has been a 2008 TV re-make of the film, though many reviews have been unfavorable.
15 8.3 025. The Caine Mutiny (1954)
17 7.7 026. The Enemy Below (1957)
16 8.1 027. Von Ryan's Express (1965)
A fast paced WWII classic featuring Allied soldiers (mainly British) attempting to escape an Italian POW camp with the Germans in hot pursuit. Gripping get away action film, well worth a watch.
Another WWII classic with a very similar theme is 'The Train' (1964) Based on non-fiction book Le front de l'art. A German Colonel has loaded a train with stolen French artwork that he wishes to take to Germany. However the French resistance aren't too happy about this and attempt to recapture the masterpieces.
(B & W)
8 6.7 028. The Counterfeiters (2007)
27 7.8 029. Saints and Soldiers (2005)
Set during The Battle of the Bulge, Saints and Soldiers follows the story of a group of soldiers who escape the Malmedy Massacre and have desperately try to get back to Allied lines not only in order to survive but to also inform their commanders of important intelligence they have gathered. Considering the budget of this movie I was very impressed and I'm glad that many seem to have given it the credit it deserves.
The second movie in the trilogy 'Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed' has recently come out but did not receive the same plaudits as its predecessor.
If you like this, a good WWII movie also set during The Battle of the Bulge is the underrated 'A Midnight Clear' (1992).
13 7 030. Days of Glory (Indigenes) (2007)
Follows a group of four Algerian (part of colonial France at the time) men who join the French First Army along with many other North Africans, to free France from Nazi oppression. However they find they also have to fight against discrimination from the French as well.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and deserves your attention.
39 8.3 031. Life Is Beautiful (1999)
21 7.3 032. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)
Following along similar lines to Life is Beautiful, this movie follows a young German boy who makes an unlikely friend in the form of Jewish boy. However the camp his friend is in is also run by his father.
This is a very different take on the war from the eyes of children and for that alone is well worth a watch.
The African, Mediterranean & Middle East Theatre
1940 - 1945
2 7.5 033. Ice Cold in Alex (1958)
38 7.7 034. The Guns of Navarone (1961)
The Eastern Front
1941 - 1945
13 8.8 035. Come And See (Idi i Smotri) (1985)
22 8.1 036. Stalingrad (1993)
Follws German officer Hans von Witzland and his battalion through the horrible battle fo Stalingrad. Harrowing and far more accurate than most war films.
There is another film also named 'Stalingrad' released in 2013 made by the Russians (from the director of 9th Company - Fedor Bondarchuk) and is Russia's first IMAX film:
15 8 037. Cross of Iron (1977)
8 8 038. Fortress of War (2011)
3 7 039. The Star (2002)
If you are looking for lots of good action in a WWII film then this is it. Based on a true story, a group of Soviet soldiers go behind enemy lines on a reconnaissance mission to gather information on the occupying German forces during Operation Bagration. Very unknown & underrated film, easily a 7.5/10.
204 7.4 040. Enemy at the Gates (2001)
8 7 041. The Winter War and Ambush Double Pack (2011)
Both set during the 'Winter War' which occured in 1939-1940 between Finland and the Soviet Union (it was essentially a campaign of WW2). 'The Winter War (Talvisota)' (1989) is a little known Finnish film that has a great scale and accuracy to it.
I brought The Winter War in a DVD set with another Finish World War Two film (set in the Continuation War which followed the Winter War) named 'Ambush' (1999) also well worth seeing, Ambush I feel has a stronger narrative behind it with an officer seeking revenge for the death of his partner who was killed by the Soviets. The film however does not meet the scale and full on battle scenes of Talvisota.
Other Finish WWII Movies Include:
Tali-Ihantala 1944 (2007)
Beyond Enemy Lines (2004)
The Unknown Soldier (1985)
The Unknown Soldier (1955)
Ville has complied a good list of Finnish war movies you may also want to look at:
6 6.7 042. Katyn (2007)
Depicts the little known Katyn massacre that was covered up for many years after the war, an important and well made film.
Is set in Poland, essentially in the middle of the Eastern and Western fronts, due to the massacre being committed by the Soviets I've put this film under the Eastern Front.
The Pacific Theatre
1941 - 1945
27 9.1 043. The Pacific (2010)
Many of the men this series focuses on had passed away, therefore it doesn't have the character depth of Band of Brothers, but it still is breath taking at times with first rate battle scenes and is a fantastic portrayal of what some of the men went through fighting in the pacfic. It once again features a first class score like BoB and I would strongly recommend it if you haven't seeen it yet.
9 8.9 044. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
93 7.7 045. The Thin Red Line (1998)
21 7.6 046. Flags of Our Fathers / Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Clint Eastwood gives directing a go and does a good job here. Letters from Iwo Jima is widely regarded as the better of the two but both films are good and it's good to see the battle from both perspectives.
Both films focus around the Battle of Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers however has a clear focus on those who lifted the flag (or did'nt as the case may be) in the famous WWII photo (also seen on the cover) and the impact this had on their lives.
Letters from Iwo Jima is not just Flags of our fathers without the flag, it gives you a deep insight into the Japanese army's culture at the time. The Japanese are not simply painted as the evil ones, Eastwood does a great job of showing how good and evil were on both sides.
35 7.7 047. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
23 7.5 048. Empire Of The Sun (1987)
3 7.5 049. City of Life & Death [Import anglais] (2010)
Documents the events of The rape of Nanjing (Nanking) and the efforts of an international delegation (including John Rabe) that stayed in Nanjing in order to try to protect the cities citizens from the occupying Imperial Japanese army. Has been honored with several awards for its excellent cinematography.
(B & W)
A perhaps lesser, but still decent film also on the subject is
'John Rabe: City of War' (2009) which has a larger focus on the particular efforts of German businessman and Nazi party member John Rabe to protect innocent Chinese citizens.
14 7.6 050. Midway (2005)
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