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Top World War II Movies

Movie list created by Phil_Sump Avatar

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The Western Front

1939 - 1945

People who added this item 260 Average listal rating (115 ratings) 9.1 IMDB Rating 0
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."



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A modern day classic and the standard any Hollywood war film must now strive for, also an excellent companion piece for Band of Brothers.

Corporal Upham: "Theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do or die."





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People who added this item 1629 Average listal rating (999 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.2
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.



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People who added this item 710 Average listal rating (477 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8
This is edge of your seat stuff folks, from start to finish the cinematography and score ensure you remain uneasy and you constantly fear for the lives of the men stranded on the beach. When the fleet of civilian boats finally came to aid the troops the hairs on the back of my neck shot up. A very memorable piece of cinema, one I won't forget too soon.



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People who added this item 1099 Average listal rating (624 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.4
The bench mark for all Sub movies, destroys the insulting Hollywood film U-571 that attempted to copy it and re-write history.



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Set In Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis. A deeply harrowing and moving film that is fully deserving of all its critical praise, a must watch for everyone.



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People who added this item 4010 Average listal rating (2346 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.5
True story about a Jewish Pianist who survived the holocaust, first class.



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Film about the D-Day landings. A real classic, much like A Bridge Too Far it tells the story from various Allied perspectives, not just the Americans ;)
(B & W)



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Unusually this film is about a failed Allied mission to take Arnhem bridge in the Netherlands (Opertation Market Garden). It's one of my favorites due to the great cast and direction. A classic and a good companion piece to The Longest Day.



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Tarantino back to his best with this fictional story set in World War Two, I'm not normally the biggest fan of fictional stories set in WW2 (due to there being so many untold factural stories) but he pulls this off very well.



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People who added this item 1220 Average listal rating (771 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
A simply brilliant biopic about the great Alan Turing who helped break the "unbreakable" German enigma machine, a fitting tribute to one of the great minds of the 20th century



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People who added this item 667 Average listal rating (410 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8
Docu-drama/biopic about the military career of George S. Patton, very informative and a well made movie.



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Classic story of Allied POW's escaping a German camp, the ultimate Sunday afternoon flick.



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Another British classic, a tribute to those in the RAF and other allied forces (e.g Canada) who battled the German Luftwaffe to prevent the German forces taking Great Britain, features some great dog fights.



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People who added this item 82 Average listal rating (54 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.4
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 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.



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Despite the Helicopter (what were they thinking) this is really enjoyable WW2 spy movie, one of Clint's earlier works.



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People who added this item 310 Average listal rating (217 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
Eastwood again and enjoyable again, like Inglorious it will give you a few laughs and the mission itself is also fiction.



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A US Army Major (Lee Marvin) is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers. Lee Marvin is excellent, vintage American WW2 film.



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People who added this item 671 Average listal rating (453 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.6
A very brutal and realistic (apart from the Hollywood ending) take on the twilight days of WWII taken from the perspective of a bruised and battered tank crew with a new recruit amongst their ranks.
The battle scenes are top draw and Brad Pitt makes for a great tank commander, make sure you check it out, you may just have to suspend your belief for the last twenty minutes though.



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People who added this item 1393 Average listal rating (870 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
A great true story about the German Officers who made a stand against Hitler. A story that has been told before, but not to this scale, I really enjoyed this, I feel it's important that people realise not all German soldiers were Nazis, many were merely patriots and products of their generations education.



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People who added this item 590 Average listal rating (341 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Dutch resistance movement
Features Carice van Houton as an undercover agent, top class Dutch WW2 film, full of action and suspence.





An older film about the Dutch resistance that makes a great companion piece is 'Soldier of Orange' (1977)



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czechoslovakian resistance movement
Structured around Operation Anthropoid which too place in Prague. This film explains the story of the two men assigned the mission of assassinating high ranking SS General Reinhard Heydrich. This film had more impact on me as I had recently been to Prague and seen the locations of the events depicted in the film. Well worth a watch.



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People who added this item 724 Average listal rating (456 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
Jewish resistance movement
Although advertised as "a true story", it has been criticised for not following the true story of the Bielski partisans accurately. I nonetheless really enjoyed it.




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Norwegian resistance movement
Little known movie about Max Manus and the actions of the Norwegian resistance movement in WW2, top draw.



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Danish resistance movement
Similar to Man of War in many respects, one of them being that it is also very good, follows the legendary resistance fighters code named Flame and Citron. Hidden gem.



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German resistance movement
Well told and acted, true story of a genuine hero of the German White Rose Resistance Movement - Sophie Scholl.



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Solid WW2 flick that details the experiences of several US soldiers from The Big Red One lead by the Sergeant who is played by Lee Marvin, also features Mark Hamill.



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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.
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About a mutiny and power struggle aboard a navy ship serving during World War II, 1950's classic.



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A German U-boat and a US Destroyer play cat and mouse, another excellent 1950's WWII movie.




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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)



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True story of how Nazi Germany forged money on concentration camps to fund the war effort. Deserved Winner of Best Foreign Picture Oscar at the 2008 Academy Awards.




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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).



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People who added this item 154 Average listal rating (88 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.1
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.



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Historical drama with a comical feel, Life is Beautiful is different to many on this list but is a touching film about a family trying their best to cope in desperate times and during WWII and well worthy of a mention.



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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.




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The African, Mediterranean & Middle East Theatre

1940 - 1945

People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.8
A British classic that follows a transport unit and army nurses as they trek across the German occupied North African desert dreaming of an ice cold beer.



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Although it appears somewhat dated now, still a classic WW2 sabotage film.
(The mission takes place in Navarone a small island off the coast off of Greece).





Has a follow up staring Harrison Ford named 'Force 10 from Navarone' (1978)
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The Eastern Front

1941 - 1945

People who added this item 664 Average listal rating (301 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.2
A movie that focuses on the horrors of war and what it was like to be around during the German invasion of Russia, very hard hitting.



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People who added this item 229 Average listal rating (131 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
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:
www.imdb.com/title/tt1966566/


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People who added this item 312 Average listal rating (191 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.5
Raw and gritty war film and a rarity in that it is told from the perspective of German soldiers on the Russian front during WW2.



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People who added this item 40 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.5
This impressive Russian film focuses on a true story of a group of Soviets who hold a last stand in Brest fortress (Belarus) against the invading German forces. Great battle scenes, what some might call a 'true' war movie.



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People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
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.



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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.



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People who added this item 124 Average listal rating (68 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
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' (Rukajärven Tie) (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:
Finnish War Movies
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People who added this item 151 Average listal rating (91 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.1
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.






Anautix has complied a list dedicated to WWII movies that focus on the Eastern Front that I recommend if you a looking for more movies on this area of the war:
World War II Movies - Eastern Front
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The Pacific Theatre

1941 - 1945

People who added this item 488 Average listal rating (353 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.2
The powerful true story of American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss who instead of killing, chose to save lives. The battle scenes in this movie raise the bar, it really did feel like hell on earth when I saw it in the cinema. It's a captivating story and certainly one of my favourite WWII movies.



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People who added this item 31 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 9 IMDB Rating 0
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.





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Another British WW2 film, it is technically fictional, but is roughly based around the construction of the Burma railway by Allied POWs. Winner of numerous awards and rightly so, dispite being an old film now it stands up well, great story.



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Over shadowed at the time of release due to it being out at the same time as Saving Private Ryan, but nevertheless an excellent WW2 film featuring many big name cameos. One of my favorites.



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Most of these are your traditional 'War' films per say, some however lean more towards the period drama side, but all are based around the World War II era.

I have placed the films in a rough descending order of what I view as the best at the top of each theatre of war.

The flags denote the the countries that the films perspective is taken from. Please inform me if you feel a flag is missing or wrongly placed (I have used the flag used by the country at the time of the war).

I'm trying to keep the limit of around 50 - adding other worthy mentions on at the end.

The majority are traditional feature films, however it also features some outstanding TV mini-series that I felt couldn't be missed off. The list does not feature documentaries or comedies and I've left out romance based films like From Here to Eternity and Casablanca

I Have mainly used modern coloured films, but have included some black & white classics and these have been denoted with B & W.

I've seen quite a lot of WWII films, but not all of them,
so feel free to make any suggestions, I am prepared to add in films I haven't seen.

Well Received WWII Period/Romantic Dramas Not Included in the List:

-Casablanca


-From Here to Eternity


-Atonement


-The English Patient




Well Known Movies that Didn't Make the Cut:

-U-571 (Disapointingly attempts to re-write history, just watch Das Boot instead).




-Pearl Harbor (this isn't a list of the worlds most melodramatic & corny films, just watch Tora Tora Tora).







WWII Movie Watch List:

Empire of the Sun
Army of Shadows
The Downfall Of Berlin - Anonyma
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
Amen
In Darkness
Before the Fall
The Heroes of Telemark
My Best Enemy
Mosquito Squadron
The Devils Brigade
The Last Bullet
Sisters of War
The Army of Crime
Operation: Daybreak
Battle of Neretva
Hope & Glory
Catch 22
Europa Europa
Napola
Lacombe Lucien
Conspiracy
Hell in the Pacific
Play Dirty
Murphy's War
In Tranzit
Black Sheep
The Unknown Soldier (1955 & 1985)

The Bomber (TV series)
Holocaust (TV series)
Colditz (TV series)

Grave of the Fireflies (Anime)

Black & White Classics:

The Train
Attack
Battleground
Rome Open City
Reach for the Sky
In Which We Serve
Ashes and Diamonds
Went the Day Well?
Overlord
Stalag 17
Carve Her Name with Pride
To Hell and Back
In Harms Way
Run Silent, Run Deep
The Young Lions
Sands of Iwo Jima
A Matter of Life and Death
Ballad Of A Soldier
The First of the Few (aka Spitfire)
Stalingrad - Dogs Do You Want to Live Forever?



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