War movies have been popular since the birth of motion pictures. For some reason, we are drawn to them. Whether it's the excitement or the historical remembrance, most people love a good war movie. These are the to 10 war films from Hollywood:
#1 U-571 (2000, Directed by Jonathan Mostow) Mathew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi. Based on true events. A great movie about a submarine crew's mission to capture the Enigma encryption system from a German U-Boat. Events cause the destruction of their own submarine, so they must board the enemy U-Boat, and the movie unfolds from there. Good action, suspense, direction and acting.
#2 Valkyrie (2008, Dir: Bryan Singer) Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh. This one surprised me, and I really liked it. Also based on true events, it's the story of the many attempts on Hitler's life during WWII by his own German officers. Good suspense, and a story that's rarely been told. I especially liked Col. Stauffenberg's motivation to save Germany from Hitler, and the ingenious plan his team concocts.
#3 The Great Escape (1963 Dir: John Sturges) Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn. Based on a true story of Allied POW's in a German high-level security prison, supposedly escape-proof. Their leader plans to lead a large group of prisoners to escape via tunnels, boats, trains and planes. An exciting film with a good cast. I can watch it over and over.
#4 Tora! Tora!Tora! (1970 Dir: Richard Fleisher, Kinji Fukasaku) E.G. Marshall. James Whitmore. A great movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific maneuvers of WWII as told from both the Japanese and American sides.
#5 M*A*S*H. (1970, Dir: Robert Altman) Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould. An unforgettable comedy set in the Korean conflict, about a group of prankster doctors in a MASH unit. We don't laugh enough, so I wanted to include one comedy. Alternatively, you can watch some of the M*A*S*H TV series episodes.
#6 Das Boot(1981 Dir: Wolfgang Peterson). The tale of 42 new recruits on a German U-Boat in 1942, and how they deal with boredom, claustrophobia, and fear. A powerful film.
#7 Casablanca (1942. Dir: Michael Curtis) Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman. We sometimes forget this is a war film, as the drama between the characters dominates the scenes. Set in WWII in unoccupied North Africa, in an American expatriate's nightclub, as the Nazis just arrive. Winner of 3 Oscars.
#8 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957 Dir: David Lean) William Holden, Sir Alec Guinness. Before he was Obi Wan, Alec Guinness was Colonel Nicholson, a British officer and POW who supervises the construction of a railway bridge for his Japanese captors ... a bridge which the allies plan to destroy. An excellent movie that was well told and often finds its way into top 100 lists for all-time films.
#9 - 36 Hours (1965) James Garner stars as an American agent, whom Nazis have convinced that he's just come awake from a coma, and the war is over. They pretend he is now in a US Army hospital. They build a whole fake town in a scheme to get him to spill military secrets.
#9 (tie) Patton (1970 Dir: Franklin Schaffner) George C. Scott, Karl Malden. The film portrays the controversial career of General Patton during World War II. His clever tactics and ruses are dramatized. A good film that was well cast. George C. Scott played the role of the General perfectly.
#10 Apocalypse Now (1979 Dir: Francis Ford Coppola) Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Lawrence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper. Set in the Vietnam War, this is a dark film about a Captain sent on a mission to assassinate a renegade Green Beret in Cambodia. The film takes many disturbing turns, but is an important war film.
See also: Top 25 Mystery Movies of All Time
Memorial Day was started to commemorate those who have served in past conflicts and in times of war. These war movies to great to watch during Memorial Day weekend, or any time, for a look at history through war.