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December 7, 2012 2:44 PM   Subscribe

The Best WWII Movies You [Probably] Haven't Seen: Page 1, Page 2
posted by the man of twists and turns (46 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
What, no Escape to Victory?
posted by Damienmce at 2:54 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, back to the action.

It was Wolfgang Peterson’s 1981 masterpiece Das Boot that made it “okay” to root for Germans in a World War II


Um, it's a German language film.

And after the Grey Zone - a film about Auschwitz

Okay, we need to lighten up a little bit, and quick.

Yeah - damn those concentration camps are depressing. I need cheering up stat!

What a dickhead
posted by the noob at 2:57 PM on December 7, 2012


Yeah, and it seemed a little odd to include The Best Years of Our Lives on a list of "seldom seen" films.

Elem Klimov's Come and See belongs also.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 3:00 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Closely Watched Trains is one of the most beautiful movies ever committed to black and white film. A goddamn masterpiece.

This list needs more To Be or Not to Be. Also 2002's Below, which, to be honest, was probably rated pretty much accurately at time of release; but it remains a nifty haunted submarine flick written by Darren Aronofsky and starring Zach Galifianakis.
posted by Iridic at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This list needs more To Be or Not to Be.

It's not that I don't trust you, Iridic, but I had to click to make sure you were talking about the right one.

(You were)
posted by shakespeherian at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2012


Jack Benny's finest hour!
posted by Iridic at 3:20 PM on December 7, 2012


Ice Cold in Alex. The trailer is a bit overblown and corny, but it's a brilliant film.
posted by afx237vi at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hope and Glory was great. That was randomly on HBO or something about 1990, and it was memorable.

I routinely recommend The Best Years of Their Lives, not only because it's a phenomenal movie in itself, but it really helps debunk the myth that WWII soldiers came home, reintegrated into regular society, forgot the war, and were fine. It was so unwelcome (because all too real) in 1946 that Hollywood took a sharp turn away from this topic and went into technicolor fantasyland.

Not on this list, but high on mine, is The Train, the story of the art collection stolen from homes in occupied France and shipped back to Berlin with the Third Reich's retreat. It tells a true episode of the community to stop the shipment, led by a local art curator who seeks help from the Resistance.

To Be or Not to Be is another absolutely amazing movie! I agree. Hilarious, clever, dramatically well crafted, and touching.
posted by Miko at 3:27 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


'Rooting for the Germans' came before Das Boot... Cross Of Iron for a start

And I'll see you Escape To Victory and raise you Hannibal Brooks
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Europa, Europa is, for my money, the greatest WW II / Holocaust film I've ever seen.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:08 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, two thumbs up for Hope and Glory.

Let me add a couple of of my favorite WWII films. Check out Castle Keep. War films weren't popular in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War, and this is not just an antiwar film, it's an anti war-film film, it just mercilessly mutilates all the standard war movie cliches.

But if I could single out one WWII film that I know almost nobody has seen, one of my all time favorites, it would be Rogue Male starring Peter O'Toole.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:09 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I didn't find myself rooting for the Germans in the movie, Stalingrad.

The Thin Red Line is a movie I probably haven't seen? Really? (oh, the director's cut, whatever) Hell, I even read the book (one of those rare instances when the movie is actually better than the book).
posted by Chuffy at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2012


Nope. I still refuse to read articles that have the insolence to make assumptions about what I have or haven't seen/read/been previously aware of.
posted by Decani at 4:47 PM on December 7, 2012


Kanal is pretty good -- probably my favorite movie by Wajda -- and it has fewer imdb user rating than most of the items on this list... not that that's saying very much.
posted by flechsig at 4:47 PM on December 7, 2012


Really, The Thin Red Line but no Come and See?

Demonic Winged Headgear, this is the better trailer, I think.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:49 PM on December 7, 2012


Yeah, as essential lists go, this one is stumbling at best ... and it's terribly laid out. But since we're talking under-seen WW2 films, here's a couple, both concerning children:

Ivan's Childhood
Empire of the Sun
posted by philip-random at 5:19 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I routinely recommend The Best Years of Their Lives, not only because it's a phenomenal movie in itself, but it really helps debunk the myth that WWII soldiers came home, reintegrated into regular society, forgot the war, and were fine.

Yes, it's a great film. Another, less well known film on a related theme is I'll Be Seeing You with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotton, directed by William Dieterle. It's about a guy suffering from PTSD (who comes back stateside and falls in love with a woman who is out on a temporary leave from prison). Part of the explicit purpose of the film is to say "look, we're going to have a bunch of people coming back from the war whose lives have been shattered in this way and we need to think about what accomodations we need to make for them." It's a powerful movie and I'm surprised it isn't better known.
posted by yoink at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best WWII film I saw this year is Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows. I don't know if it's still under-seen given its 2006 Criterion release, but I do know that if you haven't seen it yet, you should rectify that.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:36 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kobayashi's epic "The Human Condition" transcends anything on that list.

Sorry, .Kobayashi.^^
posted by JJ86 at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2012


No love for Kelly's Heroes?
posted by Packed Lunch at 5:54 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll add Die Brücke (The Bridge), which was filmed in Germany in 1959. (Teenage high school students get conscripted into the Wehrmacht in the final days of WWII.) Not only is it a solid depiction of the destruction and senselessness of war, but it is a beautiful piece of filmmaking. Many of the images could stand alone as still photos.
It's available in full on YouTube.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:02 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Glad to see that people have mentioned Idi i smotri (Come and See), one of the most horrific and haunting films - and probably the best and most moving WWII movie -I've ever seen. A good friend told me once that she and her classmates used to watch it yearly in high school back in the USSR. (Jeez). I'd love to see a theater here in the US show it in a double billing with Saving Private Ryan to give people a stark contrast.
posted by Auden at 6:13 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Voskhozhdeniye (The Ascent) should be on any list of great but relatively obscure WW2 films. It's about partisans behind the Eastern Front.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:15 PM on December 7, 2012


Thanks for the recommendations everyone, added most everything here to the Netflix queue. Looking forward to the Soviet examples especially.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:44 PM on December 7, 2012


A Midnight Clear is one of my favorite, haunting, less-known, WWII film.
posted by Windopaene at 7:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Studio Ghibli's Grave of the Fireflies. Watched it once. Loved it. Own it. Have never felt ready to watch it again.
posted by mrettig at 7:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing I loved most about A Midnight Clear was Sam Phillips' rendition of the title song. Like the movie, beautiful and haunting.
posted by Auden at 7:35 PM on December 7, 2012


Nope. I still refuse to read articles that have the insolence to make assumptions about what I have or haven't seen/read/been previously aware of.

I had seen some of them but I survived reading the article and also learned about a few new ones.
posted by Miko at 7:39 PM on December 7, 2012


Looked to find the Big Red One, came away disappointed.
posted by Ber at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2012


Nope. I still refuse to read articles that have the insolence to make assumptions about what I have or haven't seen/read/been previously aware of.

My lack of omnipotence precludes this approach for me.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't find myself rooting for the Germans in the movie, Stalingrad.

I just watched it. I found myself rooting for the end credits. I started speeding it up, since I can just read the subtitles and not have to hear the dialogue. First 1.5x. Then 2x. There are some scenes I played at 3x, they're just scenes of soldiers sitting around staring at each other, you can barely tell it's not 1x speed until they talk. There were some scenes of people trudging around endlessly that I watched at 4x.

This movie is a endless, painful war against my butt in a chair.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:36 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously any ‘seldom-seen’ list that includes Academy Award Best Picture winners like Closely Watched Trains and Best Years (which won 7 Oscars!) — plus Hope and Glory was nominated for Best Picture — is not a very good one. Castle Keep, A Midnight Clear, and Army of Shadows, as mentioned above, make much better suggestions.

Earlier this year a magazine asked me to review a history of WW II movies, and I learned about two I not only hadn’t seen, I’d never even heard of. From my review: “The Secret Invasion... would seem like B-movie legend Roger Corman’s low-budget remake of The Dirty Dozen (with only five hardened criminals — including Mickey Rooney and Edd ‘Kookie’ Byrnes — in German uniforms on a suicide mission, instead of twelve), except it came out three years before the more famous film... Attack stars Jack Palance and Lee Marvin; the production got no cooperation at all from the Department of Defense because of Eddie Albert’s portrayal of a cowardly commander during the Battle of the Bulge. Albert is even more neurotic than Captain Queeg, portrayed brilliantly by Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny, one of the best films left out of this book.”

I have since seen both, and enjoyed them, especially Attack.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:57 PM on December 7, 2012


Went the Day Well?, a 1942 British movie about German paratroopers disguised as British soldiers take over a small English village and how the villagers fight back, filmed with a casual brutality you don't expect from a film from this period.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:04 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where Eagles Dare remains my all time favourite, but it is hardly not seen, having been a staple of Christmas TV in the UK. Santa, Bond, WWII, Wizard of Oz combined at this time of year to dominate the terrestrial TV channels here.

WWII films maybe not seen.. Force 10 From Navarone. This bizarre sequel to Guns of Navarone has a ridiculously good cast http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_10_from_Navarone_(film)#Cast

There has been a few resistance movies recently (scandinavian) Max Manus, Flame et Citroen and the excellent Blackbook (Dutch, Verhoeven after Hollywood, worth revisiting Soldier of Orange after that for very early Hauer, and Verhoeven before he went Hollywood) I am also looking for the under represented Finnish War. Any one seen http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098437/) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tali-Ihantala_1944
posted by artaxerxes at 5:23 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed -- but not surprised -- that Stuart Cooper's 1975 feature Overlord isn't mentioned in this article. I wrote about it a few years ago, but the best way to describe it is like a WWII version of "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge". The hushed, eerie tone and the striking imagery still haunts.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:45 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obviously any ‘seldom-seen’ list that includes Academy Award Best Picture winners like Closely Watched Trains and Best Years (which won 7 Oscars!) — plus Hope and Glory was nominated for Best Picture — is not a very good one

I'm not sure the Academy Award is a fair estimation of how frequently watched these movies are currently. Given the elapsed time, odd things happen - movies drop out of favor, or movies that were passed over at the time become classic favorites.

I became a Golden Age cinema buff about 15 years ago, but it took me a long time to come across Best Years of Our Lives naturally - because I had first worked through the oeuvre of well-known actors and directors by renting videos and then using Netflix, working from known to unknown. The film's actors are no longer household names - the best-known name today is probably Myrna Loy - and the director, though he's responsible for tons of hits that people still watch, is still not as familiar a name as, say, Howard Hawkes. In other words, at least before Netflix, it wasn't something easy to come across, did not appear a lot on television and I"d say you'd have had to be a serious film fan (or have seen it originally) to know about it. I base that entirely on my own experience becoming a big film fan, especially before internet resources were so good, but also upon how often I recommend it to someone who hasn't heard of it, or bring it up in a conversation where the "WWII vets came home and were fine" canard, and I find that most of those people have not seen it.
posted by Miko at 6:56 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Trumpets Fade, worthy....

to me the early WWII movies focused on the earliest parts of the war are alwasy interesting because the genre is still somewhat unrefined.... so the misty, foggy, slightly surreal 1943 Bataan is one I like....

and slightly o/t, recollections are always fairly gripping.... Battle of The Bulge / Hurtgen Forest Recollections
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:18 AM on December 8, 2012


Hell in the Pacific starring Lee Marvin and Toshiri Mifune as soldiers stranded on an island is the best WWII movie ever made. No real dialogue for an hour and 40 minutes and a crazy powerful ending. Also directed by John Boorman!
posted by Jeff_Larson at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2012


Oh darn it, you just beat me to it. I was watching Cross of Iron and when I saw Lee Marvin, I suddenly flashed on Hell in the Pacific.

Let me add one more, Operation: Daybreak.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:19 PM on December 8, 2012


Cross of Iron (which was directed by Sam Peckinpah) has its problems on a narrative level, but man, does it have powerful and beautiful moments!

Here's the ending which, in a weird way, manages to not be a spoiler at all, just amazing cinema. Watch the whole link.
posted by philip-random at 12:41 PM on December 8, 2012


Came in hoping someone would single out A Midnight Clear, wasn't disappointed. I saw it on cable waaay back when, recommended it on and off ever since — even though I don't think I've actually gone back and watched it again myself since then, which this thread reminds me I need to fix.

After I saw it (way back in the day), I described it as a WWII movie made using a tone more associated with WWI movies...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:28 AM on December 9, 2012


I'll add Die Brücke (The Bridge), which was filmed in Germany in 1959. (Teenage high school students get conscripted into the Wehrmacht in the final days of WWII.) Not only is it a solid depiction of the destruction and senselessness of war, but it is a beautiful piece of filmmaking. Many of the images could stand alone as still photos.
It's available in full on YouTube .


I remember watching this as a kid 30 years ago as a Saturday afternoon movie on one of the local Seattle TV stations. It's always stuck in my brain, but I never knew the name of it. Now, thanks to MetaFilter and the Internet, I do.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:20 PM on December 9, 2012


Enemy at the Door is pretty fantastic, although I've only seen it on VHS at our equally fantastic neighbourhood video store, Pic-a-Flic, in Cook Street Village, in Victoria.

It's a television series about the German occupation of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, during the Second World War.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:24 PM on December 9, 2012


The 1984 German television film Wannseekonferenz (The Wannsee Conference) runs 85 minutes—exactly the length of the conference itself, with a script derived from the minutes of the meeting.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:00 PM on December 9, 2012


Apparently the ful dubbed version of Die Wannseekonferenz is available on YouTube.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:02 PM on December 9, 2012


BTW thanks for recommending Die Wannseekonferenz, I am watching it now and it is quite compelling. It is worth noting there is an English language remake by the BBC from 2001, Conspiracy. I am attempting to get ahold of it right now, it seems promising.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:59 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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