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War Films Throughout the Decades

Updated on August 27, 2011

As a genre, war films and western films have sort of fallen out of Hollywood's favor. Of the two, certainly there have been more recent war films with American forces in Afghanistan or Iraq fighting the terrorists and generally losing because of its nature.

Since the 1930's, there seems to be a war film that defines that era or created a lot of buzz during its release and still does:

  • 1930- All Quiet on the Western Front about WW1. The film today is still brutal but it is hard to still watch because of the technology then. Sound movies were new and its technology horrible by today's standards. I can handle the black and white, though.
  • The Story of GI Joe (1945) WW2 through an correspondent's eye. Very interesting content with a young Robert Mitchum.
  • Bridge Over the River Kwai (1950s) Still an excellent POW film based on a true story and brutality of Japanese soldiers in WW2.
  • Retreat, Hell! (1952) Americans on retreat in Korea at the Chosin Reservoir. Vastly outnumbered by hoards of Chinese soldiers. it depicts brutal combat as good as any today. In fact, even today, certain scenes are provoking you- the movie goer.
  • The Great Escape (1962) remains the best true account of how British and American POWs escaped from a German camp in WW2. The epic star Steve McQueen and a host of ten star actors. It cannot be remade, it still is that good.
  • The Green Berets (1968) Not many good war movies were made in the 60s because of Vietnam. This is one of the better one depicting Special Forces and John Wayne in a Vietnam-like area.
  • Apocalypse Now (1979) Remains a solid Vietnam film despite some odd scenes, in many ways, it is realistic of many American soldiers and commanders during that war.
  • Platoon (1980s) This is the best and accurate picture of the Vietnam war. Epic.
  • Top Gun (1980s) A light weight post-Vietnam war movie about flight jocks in training and made Tom Cruise a star. The aerial dogfights are its best moments
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998) Still a great movie on WW2 and personalities of soldiers all coming to together for a common cause. The D-day scenes are very realistic in how it was like.
  • Black Hawk Down (2001) a post 9\11 movie that shows how combat is nasty shit and in your face. Depicts how a simple RPG can so many things to go wrong in Somalia crawling with terrorists.
  • The Hurt Locker and Green Zone - both made since 2005, the first shows you in a brutal manner how bombs and IEDs are removed in Iraq and Afghanistan and how that combat poisons the mind month and month. The Green Zone is in Iraq, just after the fall when special squads were seeking WMD's. They raced to known or suspected sites to secure them from terrorists. The problem was real- they were never there.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago

      yes, the longest day and others!

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Hi perrya...good list. I would probably also added (top O head stuff) but The Longest Day...good stuff. Voted Up, useful, and interesting.