In honor of the Military, I wanted to reflect on what my favorite military movie is. A quick search online will yield answers like the battle of Britain, Das Boot, and even The Dirty Dozen (talk about best online military quotes). But there is one movie that has always been number one for me, Kelly’s Heroes.
The Battle of Britain (1969)
The Battle of Britain is a 1969 British war film. It depicts the events of the Battle of Britain in the Second World War and was produced by Euan Lloyd and directed by Guy Hamilton. The film’s soundtrack is by composer Ron Goodwin.
It is unique in British cinema history as the only film to have been made with the cooperation of all three armed services (RAF, Army, and Navy). A large number of these are seen throughout the movie; a very rare example is a sequence where two RAF pilots are shot down behind enemy lines but escape capture by hiding out in an air raid shelter full of German soldiers (an actual incident).
Das Boot (1981)
If you are a fan of the genre, then this movie is a must-see. It’s the story of a U-boat crew during World War II. These submarines were so cramped that even when submerged, there was barely any room to move around. The claustrophobic atmosphere alone makes it worth watching but what really makes this movie stand out is how much it focuses on the character development of each member of the crew and their captain in particular. In fact, there is so much focus on this aspect that at times it feels like there isn’t enough action going on (which some people might consider a bad thing). That said, if you’re looking for something that shows how warfare affects people on an emotional level rather than just showing them shooting guns at one another all day long, then this movie should be right up your alley.
It’s also worth mentioning that Das Boot clocks in at over three hours long and while most people would say that’s too long for any single film (or even two films.), I would argue differently because each minute feels like its own chapter in someone’s life–which adds up quickly. There are moments where you will feel like giving up along with some characters but stick through it because everything always works itself back out eventually.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
The Dirty Dozen is a classic military film. It was based on the novel by E.M. Nathanson and directed by Robert Aldrich, who had previously worked with Burt Lancaster on ‘Ulzana’s Raid’. The movie starred Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Charles Bronson as three army sergeants tasked with training a group of convicts to participate in a suicide mission behind enemy lines.
The Dirty Dozen featured several different plot twists that kept viewers engaged throughout the film. One of my favorite scenes was when all but one member of the main character’s platoon are killed during an assault on an occupied French town; this provides for some excellent drama around whether or not our hero would make it out alive.
If you’re looking for an exciting war/military movie check out The Dirty Dozen today.
Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
Kelly’s Heroes is a 1970 war film directed by Brian G. Hutton, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jerome Coopersmith. It stars Clint Eastwood, TellySavalas and Donald Sutherland as soldiers who go AWOL during World War II to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The title refers to an American division of soldiers serving in France under George S. Patton (played by Carroll O’Connor).
The plot centers on a group of misfit American soldiers who go AWOL from their duties during World War II in order to steal $8 million worth of gold bullion from the German army.
Forrest Gump (1994)
In the movie Forrest Gump, a man whose life is an unlikely series of events that bring him from borderline intellectual disability to national hero and even more improbable run for president. The film follows Forrest through many different stages in his life, including his time as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam. Throughout these chapters of the film, we see him overcome obstacles with the help of friends and family members who believe in him unconditionally. While not every viewer will be able to relate directly to this storyline, and that’s okay.there are plenty of important messages about friendship and staying true to yourself within its pages.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Full Metal Jacket (1987) is based on the novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford, who served in Vietnam. It tells the story of Private Joker, a trainee at Fort Benning who is sent to Vietnam with his fellow recruits and assigned to Charlie Company. The film shows how war affects soldiers: their lives are turned upside down and it’s very hard for them to go back home after they’ve been in battle.
The movie has an anti-war message that makes it stand out from other military movies. R. Lee Ermey plays Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, who trains new recruits for combat duty near Hue City during 1968’s Tet Offensive against North Vietnamese forces; John Cusack co-stars as Private Leonard Lawrence aka “Gomer Pyle.”
Full Metal Jacket was nominated for an Academy Award for best-adapted screenplay (also known as a screenwriter award).