10 Best World War II Movies You Must Watch
American Prisoners of Stalag Luft III enjoying the 4th of July celebrations
Buy 'The Great Escape'
10. The Great Escape (1963)
Based on the book "The Great Escape" by Paul Brickhill, its a War-epic on a real life escape from a German POW Camp by a group of British and American war prisoners.
- SET IN- 1943, in a high security POW camp Stalag Luft III, Lower Silesia (100 miles SE of Berlin).
- RELEASE DATE- June 20, 1963.
- DIRECTOR- John Sturges.
- STARRING- Steve McQueen as American Captain Virgil Hilts, Richard Attenborough as British Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett.
STORYLINE/PLOT- A group of Allied soldiers are imprisoned in a German Prison camp called Stalag Luft III (run by the Luftwaffe). They are determined to escape so that the Nazi forces spend their attention in searching for the escapees, away from the war. The prisoners try to escape by digging a tunnel out of the prison grounds. The group of daredevil Allied soldiers do succeed to escape from the camp but what next?
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE-The filmdepicts the real life escape of Allied prisoners from the prison 'Stalag Luft III' run by the Luftwaffe during World War II.
Only three of the escapees went home safely in the real-life incident. Danny and Willie in the film is based on two Norwegian nationals who escaped by boat to Sweden (Per Bergsland and Jens Müller) and an Australian character named Coburn, based on a Dutchman Bram van der Stok. Its not just a movie, its a real experience of the War!
- THE MOST TOUCHING SCENE- The scene where the American prisoners are celebrating the 4th of July, their Independence Day, within the prison and an American POW smilingly says "Up America, Down the British" to a British POW and the British soldier smiles back.
Steve McQueen In 'The Great Escape'
A Scene From 'Casablanca'
9. Casablanca (1942)
This fictional Romantic Drama on the backdrop of World War Two has been one of the best Movies of all times. It’s a classic tale of War-time Romance that will make you emotional.
- SET IN- December 1941, In the coastal city of Casablanca in Morocco (Unoccupied Africa).
- RELEASE DATE- 26th November, 1942.
- DIRECTOR- Michael Curtiz.
- STARRING- Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo, Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault.
- STORYLINE/PLOT- A former freedom fighter Rick Blaine runs a nightclub in Casablanca. He gets an important letter which allows free access to German-occupied territories. One day, his ex-lover IIsa Lund walks in the cafe with her husband Victor Laszlo who is a Czech Resistance leader. They want that letter badly to escape from Casablanca. However, the unexpected meeting between the former lovers lead to a tense situation. They have to forget their old bitterness and plan out an escape from right under the nose of (Pro-German) Vichy Captain Louis Renault.
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- Casablanca has become a legend due to its emotional attachment to the War. Many of the actors in the film were War refugees (mostly European Jews). They did not have to "act" on-screen as their real emotions came out on their own. This classic Romantic movie was Ingrid Bergman's first major success and Bogart's first Romantic role.
- THE MOST TOUCHING MOMENT- The song "who's happy? i am happy, how much happy, very happy" is one of the best moments and definitely, the scenes where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman spend time together, sharing their emotions.
Humphrey Bogart And Ingrid Bergman In 'Casablanca'
The 'Whistling Scene', One of the Best Scenes of the Movie
8. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
This is a 1957 World War II epic film based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai (1952) by Pierre Boulle. It's more or less a fiction work about a team of captured British soldiers who engineer and build a bridge on the river Kwai. Though the British Colonel understand that the bridge will have immense strategic importance to the Japanese, he is determined to show them their British engineering brilliance but he fails and the movie ends in a bloodbath.
- SET IN- 1942/1943, River Kwai, Burma.
- RELEASE DATE- 2nd October 1957.
- DIRECTOR- David Lean.
- STARRING- William Holden as US Navy Commander Shears, Alec Guinness as British Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, Jack Hawkins as British Major Warden, Sessue Hayakawa as Japanese Colonel Saito
STORYLINE/PLOT- A group of Allied prisoners are brought to a Japanese Prison Camp in Burma. They are ordered by Japanese Colonel Saito to build a bridge on the river Kwai which will connect Bangkok and Rangoon. Colonel Nicholson refuses at first but then gets determined to build the bridge and show them their British genius. Meanwhile, Shears had escaped from the camp and had reached Ceylon where he is told by Major Warden to be a part of a Commando mission for destroying the bridge. Warden, Shears and other Commandos reach the bridge and wait for blasting it up while Colonel Nicholson tries to save and protect it! The drama which follows is a masterpiece, antagonizing and mocking the War itself.
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- You may have watched all great WWII movies but this War Drama, is one of its kind! This movie explores the pathos and contradictions the World War 2 generated. A must watch for all movie buffs!
- THE MOST TOUCHING SCENE- The whistling scene and the last scene!
The Bridge On The River Kwai
Tom Hanks And Matt Damon In 'Saving Private Ryan'
Invasion Of Normandy From 'Saving Private Ryan'
Barry Pepper As Private Daniel Jackson, A Sniper
7. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
This Steven Spielberg War epic is one of the most realistic portrayal of the Normandy invasion. Starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, the film emphasizes on the huge irreplaceable losses suffered in the landing at the Omaha beach and also in the War.
- SET IN- The Allied invasion of Omaha beach in Normandy, 1944.
- RELEASE DATE- 24th July, 1998.
- DIRECTOR- Steven Spielberg.
- STARRING- Tom Hanks as US Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller, his squad (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies) and Matt Damon as Private First Class James Francis Ryan.
- STORYLINE/PLOT- The film starts with the Allied offensive on Normandy, where Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) survives through the landing. After three days of the landing, he receives an order from General George Marshall, Washington, D.C, to search for a certain Private Ryan. Miller quickly assembles a team and they start searching for Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon). Ryan is a paratrooper and the only surviving person among his four brothers. They locate Pvt. Ryan where he is defending a bridge on the Merderet River in the town of Ramelle. Miller and his men join Ryan. A German team with 4 tanks come to capture the bridge and kills most of them, leaving Miller fatally wounded. Before the Germans kill all of them and occupy the bridge, an American P-51 Mustang destroys the tank with an incoming American division. Miller dies in front of Ryan and another surviving soldier. The film ends with an aged Ryan paying homage at Miller’s grave!
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- Every soldier is so realistic that you forget it’s a film after all. The film has one of the best performances by Tom Hanks, the violence around is so massive that Captain Miller’s hand keeps shaking after the landing. Further, the movie precisely depicts the “Normandy invasion” with huge Allied casualties.The scene where Miller says that he’s a teacher and teaches English Composition back home, is so touching that the soldiers become numb for a moment and there’s this scene at the last of the movie, where a fatally wounded Miller helplessly shoots at a German tank with a pistol! Saving Private Ryan is made up of many more great little moments which makes it one of the best movies of all times.
- THE MOST AWESOME MOMENT- Many! From the historical reference of Abraham Lincoln's 'Dixby Letters' to the marvelous depiction of the 'Normandy Invasion', from Miller's brilliant leadership to the great sniping activities shown in the movie, there are lots of great scenes. Then there's the last scene where an aged Ryan asks his wife whether he had been a good man; he says he must have been a good man because so many men died to save him!
Tom Hanks As Corporal Miller, During The Normandy Invasion; Breaching The Coastal Defense
The Massive Guns Of Navarone From The Movie
6. Guns Of Navarone (1961)
Based on the Battle of Leros during the Dodecanese Campaign of World War II, its a story of an Allied team which sets out on a secret mission to destroy two powerful German guns set up on the sea-side mountain of Navarone.
- SET IN- 1943, in the island town of Navarone where two German super-guns are placed.
- RELEASE DATE- 27 April 1961
- DIRECTOR- J. Lee Thompson
- STARRING- Gregory Peck as Captain Keith Mallory, Anthony Quinn as Colonel Andrea Stavrou, Anthony Quayle as Major Roy Franklin, David Niven as Corporal Miller.
STORYLINE/PLOT- A team of Allied soldiers are sent to destroy two German super-guns which are placed on the top of a mountain in the island of Navarone, which prevent the passage of any Allied vessel in that area. In the early course of the mission, Major Roy fell from a cliff when they were climbing a mountain and broke his leg. Captain Mallory took command since then. After a long difficult journey, the team managed to enter into the top of the mountain at Navarone. Colonel Stavrou and and a local accomplice were creating distractions in the town while explosive expert Corporal Miller set up explosives under the guns and escape. The near-to-impossible mission is successfully accomplished when the Germans break in and fire at the Allied vessels. The whole mountain of Navarone explodes!
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- Great performances by Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and their whole crew makes this movie a must watch. The film is full of action, suspense and thrill. There is a scene of a Turkish marriage in a small Turkish town with a beautiful local song, which is soon interrupted by the German army in search for the fugitives (Mallory and his team). This scene clearly depicts the disruption of civil peace during a War.
- THE MOST AWESOME MOMENT- I personally love the last part where Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn become friends again (They had developed an enmity over a past incidence). The part where Anthony Quinn acts of illness in front of the Germans and due to his effort, they get away from German captivity, that part is also great. Then, there's the sensational Guns situated on the top of Navarone!
Anthony Quinn, James Darren, Stanley Baker, David Niven And Gregory Peck In 'Guns Of Navarone'
Melanie Laurent And Daniel Brühl
5. Inglorious Basterds (2009)
This Quentin Tarantino masterpiece is a typical movie one of its kind. Written and directed by Tarantino, the fictional story is about two different plots to kill Hitler and the Nazi leadership, one by a young French-Jewish girl whose family was killed by the Gestapo and another by a team of Jewish-American soldiers known as the "Basterds" who kill Nazis.
- SET IN- Germany and German occupied France, mainly Paris (1941-1944)
- RELEASE DATE- May 20, 2009
- DIRECTOR- Quentin Tarantino
- STARRING- Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo "The Apache" Raine, Christoph Waltz as SS Colonel Hans Landa, Michael Fassbender as Lieutenant Archie Hicox, Eli Roth as Sergeant Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz, Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus (alias Emmanuelle Mimieux), Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark
STORYLINE/PLOT- In the first part, we see Colonel Hans Landa searching for Jews to kill (1941) in a french village house. He manages to kill all of them except a young girl Shosanna who escapes. In the second part (1944), we see Lieutenant Aldo Raine recruiting American Jews to the "Basterds" who kill Nazis cruelly by taking their head scalps out by a knife and we see a certain Sergeant Donny Donowitz (known as the Bear Jew) who kills German soldiers with a baseball bat in a gruesome manner! The next scene shows a furious Hitler inspecting a German soldier who had a "swastika" carved in his forehead by Raine's men.
The next part shows Shosanna running a cinema hall in Paris pretending to be a Non-Jewish French girl, plotting to invite the Nazi leadership and burning them down with the cinema hall! The next parts intelligently inter-connect the plots with each other! These characters further enrich the plot, the German killing Hugo Stiglitz (who has killed 13 gestapo officers), german actress Bridget von Hammersmark (secretly helping the Allies), British Lieutenant Archie Hicox, German sniper Fredrick Zoller (who is to star in a film which is to be shown in Shosanna's hall)!
For those of you who are reading this and haven't watched this movie, I wont expose the rest of the film. Please watch.
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- Every actor in the movie is fantastic. Every character in this highly fictionalized alternate-history masterpiece is magnificent. It took Tarantino 9-10 years to complete the script. According to Tarantino himself, this film was his Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare or Guns of Navarone kind of thing! There are lots of scenes which will be impregnated in your mind after you've watched it. Sheer Brilliance of Tarantino!
- THE MOST AWESOME SCENE- Torn between lots of amazing scenes to find out only one! Well, the speech of Brad Pitt with the no-nonsense-American accent is the best to many, many people love the part of Hans Landa and how he says that 'the milk is good' in french, many love Shoshanna and Zoller's scenes and also that part where Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels cries in happiness because Hitler had appreciated his movie! Now that is loyalty, as you might call it.
Brad Pitt As Aldo 'The Apache' Raine In 'Inglorious Basterds'
Poster Of 'Valkyrie'
The Men Who Revolted Against Hitler
A Scene From The Movie
4. Valkyrie (2008)
There were 15 plots to kill Hitler in his Nazi Germany. The last and the most famous of the those "failed plots" took place on the 20th of July, 1944 when an attempt was made to kill Hitler along with other Nazi leadership in Hitler's bunker called "Wolf's Lair". The film is about the development of the plot by the Anti-Hitler clan within the German Army. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg carried out the assassination attempt but Hitler somehow survived the blast!
- SET IN- 1944 Nazi Germany
- RELEASE DATE- 25th December, 2008
- DIRECTOR- Bryan Singer
- STARRING- Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, Kenneth Branagh as Major General Henning von Tresckow, Bill Nighy as General of Infantry Friedrich Olbricht.
STORYLINE/PLOT- General Olbricht brings Stauffenberg at a meeting of the German Resistance as a replacement of General Hans Oster who had been arrested by the Gestapo. which plans to kill Hitler and the Gestapo leadership. The resistance members include distinguished Army-men/politicians/citizens including General Ludwig Beck, Dr. Carl Goerdeler, Erwin von Witzleben, General Henning von Tresckow, etc. Stauffenberg plans and takes charge of the mission, where he is to plant a bomb in the Wolf's Lair where Hitler would be speaking in a meeting. The plan was to carry out "Operation Valkyrie" after Hitler had been killed. The German Resistance would take total control of Military/Civil affairs by operating Valkyrie by preventing the Nazi leadership from seizing power. However, Hitler survives the blast and most of the plotters are executed soon.
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- This movie beautifully depicts the sense of nationalism which lingered in the hearts of many Germans, who were realizing that they were going to lose pathetically due to Hitler's poor handling of the War. Tom Cruise is brilliant as a determined and brave Colonel Stauffenberg.
- THE MOST TOUCHING SCENE- When the Commander Of the Reserved Army Freidrich Fromm warns Stauffenberg to be on the right path and demands that he say "Heil Hitler" before leaving the room, Stauffenberg puts his right hand forward and does the familiar 'Hitler Salute' saying 'Heil Hitler' which reveals to Fromm that his right hand is till his elbow (He had lost his hand in an Allied air raid in Tunisia)!
Tom Cruise In 'Valkyrie'
Jude Law And Joseph Fiennes
3. Enemy At The Gates (2001)
Based on William Craig's book "Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad", the film is loosely based on war stories told by a Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev.
- SET IN- The Battle of Stalingrad (1942–1943)
- RELEASE DATE- April 16, 2001
- DIRECTOR- Jean-Jacques Annaud
- STARRING- Rachel Weisz as Tania Chernova, Jude Law as Vasily Zaytsev, Joseph Fiennes as Comrade Commissar Danilov, Bob Hoskins as Soviet General Nikita Khrushchev, Ed Harris as German Major Erwin König.
STORYLINE/PLOT- Vasily Zaytsev, a shepherd from the Ural Mountains has been sent as a soldier of the Red Army to the Battle of Stalingrad. He survives the first thrust and then saves Commisar Danilov by killing five Germans with five bullets; showing immense nerve and great shooting. Danilov takes him to General Krushchev and Vasily is sent on mission to kill top German men, thus, paralyzing their war effort. Within a few days, he becomes so infamous in the German camp that a special German sniper, Major Konig is sent from Berlin to kill Vasily. After a few days of hunting each other, Vasily outwits Major Konig and kills him.
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- There has been lots of issues with the film; many claim that the story is not authentic, there has been no trace of Major Konig from Berlin, the film didn't get positive reception in both Russia and Germany. However, as a war story in the bloody battle-fields of Stalingrad, this film is brilliant in its graphics, acting, camera work. A must watch for history lovers.
- THE MOST TOUCHING SCENE - Being rejected by Tania (she loves Vasily), Danilov says to Vasily that there will be inequality in society (He's a staunch communist!), he says that there will always be people, rich in love and people - poor in love.
Jude Law As Soviet Sniper Vasily Zaytsev
Liam Neeson And Ben Kingsley
The Schindler Jews Today
The Little Girl In Red Dress
2. Schindler’s List (1993)
This epic historical period drama, directed by Steven Spielberg is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by an Australian writer Thomas Keneally. The film is based on the real-life activities of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who had saved the lives of 1100+ Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.
- SET IN- Nazi Germany, mainly in the ghetto camp of Krakow, Poland. (During the Holocaust)
- RELEASE DATE- November 30, 1993
- DIRECTOR- Steven Spielberg
- STARRING- Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Goeth, Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern
STORYLINE/PLOT- A German Businessman Oskar Schindler comes to the city of Krakow to make money in war-torn Poland. He sets up a factory by bribing German officials and tries to protect Jews from being killed by the Gestapo by bringing them to his factory. Schindler appoints Itzhak Stern as his secretary, a Jewish official who has contacts with black marketeers and rich Jewish businessmen. In the ghetto of Plaszow (built to accommodate Jewish refugees), Schindler has to tackle the commanding SS officer Amon Goeth with intelligence because Goeth is a near-mad gestapo officer who is always in a Jew-killing-mood. Schindler deliberately becomes his friend, partying and spending time together with him. When Nazi Germany starts to lose the war in 1944, Goeth receives order from his superiors to send the Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp. Schindler spends huge money in bribing Goeth to take more than a thousand Jew labors to a factory in his hometown of Zwittau-Brinnlitz. The war ends soon and the Jews survive! The last scene where Oskar cries in Stern's embrace saying "See Itzhak, I could have saved more.." is one of the most touching cinematic experience you'll ever come across!
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- If you are interested about WWII and the war-time sufferings of the Jews, you must watch this movie. If you want to see the best acting of Liam Neeson (Not to forget his baritone voice), Ben Kingsley (Gandhi is not his best performance, Itzhak Stern is!) and the brilliant Ralph Fiennes (as the torturous SS officer Amon Goeth), you must watch this movie. If you want to see the best work of the master director Steven Spielberg, you must watch this movie. Not to mention the emotional essence of the film, I bet you'll cry once at least!
- THE MOST TOUCHING SCENE - We see a little Jewish girl walking amongst the Jewish refugees, wearing a bright red dress (The whole film is shot in Black and White). Later we see that her dead body (wearing the same red bright dress) is carried in a trolley, i.e. she had been murdered by the Gestapo. Spielberg deliberately brought out this contrast to demonstrate the heart-wrenching cruelty of the Nazi's during the Holocaust.
Liam Neeson As Oskar Schindler
Where Eagles Dare
A Scene From The Dramatic Climax
1. Where Eagles Dare (1968)
One of the best WWII films ever, the film has every elements of a commercial success such as Action, Suspense, War-time-Drama, A Romance or two and a great military thriller. Written and directed by Brian G. Hutton, this classic award winner movie involved some of the best men in the business such as associate director Yakima Canutt who shot most of the action scenes, famous stuntman Alf Joint who was a body double for Richard Burton in the action scenes, award-winning composer Ron Goodwin and cinematographer Arthur Ibbetson, not to mention Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood!
- SET IN- A fortress called 'Schloss Adler' in the Alps in southern Bavaria (1943-1944)
- RELEASE DATE- 4 December 1968
- DIRECTOR- Brian G. Hutton
- STARRING- Richard Burton as British Major John Smith, Clint Eastwood as U.S. Army Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer and Mary Ure as MI6 Agent Mary Elison
STORYLINE/PLOT- American Brigadier General George Carnaby (A chief planner of the second front) is captured by the Germans and imprisoned in the fortress 'Schloss Adler'. An Allied team of commandos comprising of Major John Smith, American Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer and is sent on a mission by Colonel Turner and Admiral Rolland of the MI6. The mission is to stealthily enter the castle and rescue General Carnaby before the Germans can interrogate him. MI6 Agent Mary Elison is a secret accomplice in the mission. They enter the castle and plan an escape route. The turnout of events is as thrilling as it could get. Please watch the movie to know the rest.
- WHY YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE- Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood were the best of their times. They perform their very best in this superb suspense thriller. The movie is an epitome of war-time espionage. The ending of the film is still more thrilling. The fact that I put this classic on the top of the list is because the film never lets you to take a break even for a second. Watch it out and you'll understand!
- THE MOST AWESOME MOMENT- A disguised Richard Burton goes past the German check-post while talking to Clint Eastwood (They were dressed as German Major, normally they are required to show their identifying documents but they smartly go past the German soldiers and instruct them to open the gates!). Now that's style! Personified!