War Movies in the 1970s
Whether you call them "war movies" or "war films", every decade has them. War movies and the seventies are no different. I've been going through war movies in each decade and I always have to search and filter to choose only three or four movies to write about. There are just so many classic war movies and so many lists of great war movies. Why would you want to read this? Well, I try to break it down and give good coverage to the few I choose. My personal opinion is the seventies is the decade with the least amount of war movies, the seventies was the time of movies like The Graduate, The Onion Field, The Sting, Halloween, Love Story, James Bond, Star Wars, and so much more! But, not to worry, there were war movies.
I couldn't possibly do a seventies war movies hub without M*A*S*H! M*A*S*H started the seventies off with a bang! With the Korean War as a backdrop to the surgeons and nurses of M*A*S*H you are moved, amused, and saddened at various times throughout the movie..
Maj. "Hot Lips" Houlihan: I wonder how a degenerated person like that could have reached a position of responsibility in the Army Medical Corps?
Father Mulcahy: He was drafted.
Capt. "Hawkeye" Pierce: Frank, were you on this religious kick at home, or did you crack up over here?
Colonel Blake: Hawkeye Pierce? I got a twix from headquarters about you... says you stole a jeep.
Hawkeye Pierce: No sir, no, I didn't steal it. No, it's right outside.
Colonel Blake: Ever since the dark days before Pearl Harbor, I have been proud to wear this uniform.
M*A*S*H the Movie
Of course when most people think of M*A*S*H they think of the TV show, but the movie is what started it all! M*A*S*H stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, in this case the 4077th. Who can forget "Hawkeye" Pierce or Major Frank Burns? What about America's favorite Army War Nurse, Major Hoolihan? The combination of Major Burns and Nurse Major Hoolihan (a married Major Burns and a single Nurse Hoolihan) is the basis for a lot of jokes and pranks throughout the movie...mostly perpetrated by Hawkeye and Captain "Trapper" McIntyre.
Nurse Hoolihan, a/k/a "Hot Lips" is often outraged at the insane behavior of the doctors around her. In spite of the doctors' drinking and womanizing they take their medical skills very seriously and treat each patient with exceptional care and almost reverence. Their antics are their way of dealing with the pain, suffering, and death they face every day.
According to The Making of Mash, from the Gerard Plecki book, as written on the website: http://sarcasmalley.com/mashline.htm, most of the actors were introduced to acting in this film or had little recognition prior to it. Additionally the dialog is often filled with humorous insults, propositions, and sarcastic interjections....not your average war movie. M*A*S*H grossed over 30 million it's first year in theaters, back in 1970!
If you haven't seen it, you should give it a try. Not your typical war movie.
A Bridge Too Far
Totally on the other end of the spectrum is A Bridge Too Far. This is the story of a failed attempt to seize several bridges in the German occupied Netherlands, one in particular in this movie, by dropping both American and British soldiers in parachutes to capture the bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem. Unfortunately, they were defeated. The Allies believed there was just a smattering of German soldiers to deal with instead of the top SS troops they encountered. This attempt was also known as Operation Market Garden and was one of the most disastrous battles of World War II.
It is a long movie, just shy of three hours, but makes a point...not all battles were a success. This one was a disaster. The battle scenes are realistic which only serve to make it that much more difficult to watch this defeat.
As with many war movies, this one has a superb cast including; Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Hardy Krüger, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford and Maximilian Schell.
The movie opens with a German evacuation somewhere in the Netherlands. It then moves to the German Headquarters on the Western Front showing a very unhappy officer, though it is in German so you're not sure what they're talking about.
As the movie progresses and the soldiers land..an amazing sight - all those paratroopers landing in broad daylight, they encounter various citizens from the Netherlands willing to help them hide from the Germans as they try to get to the bridge. The English countryside and it's landscape are beautifully shown in this film. The people, the soldiers, all of their actions and reactions to what transpires in this failed attempt are all interesting. There is too much action in this movie to give you a blow by blow so I would suggest you watch it and judge it for yourself, if you haven't already seen it.
This movie takes us back to a more light-hearted theme.Here's a war movie with a twist...planning a robbery in the middle of a war! Clint Eastwood can carry off any theme and this one is no different and he is far from alone! The line up in this movie includes; Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor, Donald Sutherland and Gavin McLeod.
What really makes this movie though is unlike other movies which bring together a lot of big names and top character actors, Kelly's Heroes did not lose focus on the importance of the plot. THe story never gets lost to the characters. Absolutely great job! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065938/)
Ex-Lieutenant Kelly (who was demoted for following orders, though not good ones) manages to get a German Officer/prisoner of war, drunk and finds out this Officer was about to ship $16,000,000 of gold to France. This is too much for Kelly to pass up! He gathers up a small crew to sneak behind enemy lines to steal the money. His crew consists of a big, coarse Sgt. Joe Brown (played by Telly Savalas), a conman named Crapgame (played by Don Rickles) and a hippie tank commander played by Donald Sutherland (the same Donald Sutherland that was in M*A*S*H).
This movie is based on a true event. The Germans hid over $530 million in a village called Merkers. When Gen. Patton captured the town the French civilians told him about the money. At least nine tons of gold were sent to Oberbayern along with bags of foreign currency and coins. At the end of the War $11 million was found. The Guinness Book of Records records this as "the largest robbery in the history of the world."
Other 1970s War Movies
Raid on Rommel
The Deer Hunter
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Too Late the Hero
You Can't Win 'Em All
The Boys in Company C
Too Late the Hero
MacArthur, The Rebel General
All Quiet on the Western Front
There is less of the reality of war in this movie than even M*A*S*H although the Kelly's Heroes Fan Website says,
"Using vintage World War II equipment, machinery, locales, and dialogue "KELLY'S HEROES" features some of the most realistic battle sequences ever filmed."
Turner Classic Movie's website tells us,
"There's also a funny parody of the climatic showdown in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) in which Clint and his cohorts square off against a Panzer tank while the background music playfully imitates the spaghetti western music of composer Ennio Morricone."
I think the best thing here is for you to judge for yourself. If you haven't seen this movie give it a shot and see what you think.
I'm sure I've left out something in my list of 1970s war movies (above right) but I tried to capture as many as possible. Patton and The Deer Hunter won Oscars in the 1970s, Patton in 1970 and The Deer Hunter in 1978. Patton is also listed as one of the best World War II films on MSNBC's Today's Movies and http://movies.popcrunch.com . Still I chose the three here, not because of any anti-war theme, not because they were the best or the worst but because I enjoyed these films. Each had something to offer in it's own right and I must admit I lean more toward comedy than drama if given the choice.
I hope you have enjoyed this hub and feel free to comment, either about the hub, the movies, the movie list, or to add your favorite film.
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