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My Top 10 War Movies

Updated on May 12, 2015

My Personal Top 10

In this hub I wanted to share with you my own personal top ten war movies, my thoughts on the films and the legendary movie stars who acted in them. It is I feel quite a broad mix of movies. On the whole centred around World War 2, but also the Vietnam conflict. I hope it may inspire people who may not have seen all of them to give them a try to appreciate some fine acting, exciting stories and dramatic plots.

Band of Brothers
Band of Brothers

No:1 Band of Brothers

This epic t.v. series focuses on the men of Easy Company, an elite unit of American WW2 paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, led by Dick Winters, who time and again are sent on the toughest missions of World War 2. It follows their story from their stringent training in America and Britain, to their landing behind enemy lines on D-Day, their route through France, their jumping into Holland during operation Market Garden, advancement into Belgium and ultimately Germany where they were the first unit to capture Adolf Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgardten.

I found this series to be utterly engrossing and brilliantly portayed the struggle faced by the Allies in their efforts to thwart the Nazis in their attempts to destroy the free world during World War 2. It boasts an extremely good cast of both British and American actors such as Damien Lewis(Life), Ron Livingston(Sex And The City), Marc Warren(Hustle) and David Schwimmer(Friends).

Directed in part by both Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks, it is surely in my mind, without doubt the finest WW2 drama series ever produced for television.

NIght of Night by Dave Harris
NIght of Night by Dave Harris
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan

No:2 Saving Private Ryan

This unforgettable movie must surely be considered as a madern classic, telling the compelling story of a small group of just eight American soldiers led by Captain John MIller(Tom Hanks), who are searching for Private James Ryan(Matt Damon) whose three elder brothers have all been killed during World War 2.

The men must face the ordeal of fighting on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, fighting behind enemy lines and endure the the brutal realities of war in order to find the fourth and last surviving brother, to offer him the chance to escape the war and return home.

An outstanding movie, which graphically shows the sheer brutality of D-Day and beyond, questioning the very thought of war and it's consequences, with excellent acting from Tom Hanks and others like Matt Damon, Edward Burns and Tom Sizemore.

Superbly directed by Steven Speilberg, it is surely a must for any true enthusiast of war films and I could not recommend it highly enough.

Bridge on the River Kwai
Bridge on the River Kwai

No:3 Bridge On The River Kwai

The legendary star Sir Alec Guinness headlines this wartime classic directed by David Lean. It tells of the British prisoners of war in Burma in World War 2, who are forced by their brutal Japanese captors to build a railway bridge through the Burmese jungle, whilst British commandos are sent to destroy it.

This multi award-winning movie is dominated by Guiness's wonderful acting in his portrayal of the British commanding officer who refuses to let the japanese dictate to him, risking not only death by the hands of his captors, but also ending up close to madness in the incescent heat of the jungles' hellish conditions.

I would imagine this movie to be high on the list of any great movies not only of war, but of any genre.

A great film, a superb cast and a legendary theme tune in 'Colonel Bogey' that is surely recognisable even today.

Where Eagles Dare
Where Eagles Dare

No:4 Where Eagles Dare

Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood headline this suspense-fuelled World War 2 tale of two men sent on a daring mission to rescue an American General from a heavily guarded Alpine fortress.

But not all is as it seems.

Burton and Eastwood lend their weight to this adventurous Boys Own style, twist-filled hit, with a memorable theme tune and packed with great action sequences.

It's a thrill-a-minute adrenaline ride to see if they can pull it off and escape with their quarry.

This 1968 box office hit penned by the critically acclaimed Alistair MacLean and diirected by Brian G. Hutton, was terrifically brought to life by the cool presence of Eastwood and the incisive dramatism of Burton which made this MGM's biggest hit of 1968.

This movie is surely 'one for the boys' who long for stories of adventure, action and daring-do.

Perhaps a little indulgent on my part, but a personal favourite none-the-less!

The Longest Day
The Longest Day

No:5 The Longest Day

With an all star cast including screen icons such as John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Michael Caine, Sean Connery and a host of others, this oscar winning dramatisation tells the story of the events of the 6th June 1944, D-Day.

It was the largest naval invasion in history and this movie is considered one of Hollywood's finest ever films. Shot in black and white, in an hour by hour re-creation, told from the viewpoint of both the Allies and the Germans, the movie brings home the unique atmosphere of that momentous and historic day.

It is a truly gripping movie from start to finish and it is a fascinating account of the massive preparations, mistakes and various events that determined the outcome of one of the largest battles in history.

The movie won oscars in special effects and cinematography at the 1962 Academy Awards and is jointly directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton and Bernhard Wicki.

I absolutely love this film, it's content, it's truly superb cast and the way in which it is filmed is a real pleasure to watch.

Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now

No 6: Apocalypse Now

Arguably this is the finest Vietnam war film ever produced, okay you might say what about Full Metal Jacket or Good Morning Vietnam, great films in their own right, but I feel Apocalypse is truly the best.

The film explores in great depth the insanity of the Vietnam war from it's memorable but worrying line "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning", it's jungle girlie show, to the terrifying encounter with Colonel Kurtz(Brando) the epitome of evil.

Based on the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness and directed by the legend that is Francis Ford Coppola, it is a highly graphic and atmospheric portrayal of this crazy war and must surely be regarded as a true classic.

With a stellar cast including Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford and the outstanding Dennis Hopper lending their weight to terrific roles, this movie would surely grace anyone's top 10 war films and rightly so.

The Great Escape
The Great Escape

No: 7 The Great Escape

This is another true 'Boys Own' style classic tale, with a strong cast of British and American talent including Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Gordon Jackson.

Based on a true story, the movie is a suspense-filled captivating masterpiece directed by John Sturges who also directed the Magnificent Seven and screen writer James Clavell who went on to produce Shogun, the classic samurai t.v series.

Centred around the prisoners of war at Stalag Luft 3 prison camp in Germany in WW2, the film tells the story of the group of escapees who worked on what became the largest prison break-out ever attempted.

With a memorable theme tune composed by Elmer Bernstein known the world over, The Great Escape really stirs the imagination and thrills the audience from beginning to end.

Another great favourite of mine, perfect for that lazy sunday afternoon on the sofa, it is surely one of the most memorable war films of all time.

Das Boot (The Boat)
Das Boot (The Boat)

No:8 Das Boot

This movie centering around a German U-boat crew operating in the North Atlantic Sea during World War 2 is an utterly compelling and gripping tale.

It really brings home the claustrophobic atmosphere of life below the sea and the terror the men face when they are confronted by their enemy, the British Navy.

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot is one hell of a couragous tale from whichever viewpoint and the spirit of comradeship is truly awe-inspiring.

I watched this film many years ago when i was still a boy and was enthralled by it's drama  then, watching it again years later gave me exactly the same feeling of claustrophbia and intense drama and I would most definitely recommend it to any war movie fan.

Jurgen Prochnow is outstanding in his portrayal of the U-boat's Captain and for every war film enthusiast, this is surely a must see.

The Heroes of Telemark
The Heroes of Telemark

No:9 The Heroes of Telemark

This is another excellent suspense-filled war movie telling the story of how nine Norwegians destroyed a Nazi atomic bomb making facility during World War 2 at the Norse Hydro Plant at Telemark.

Headlined by Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris, it shows just how close the Nazis came to developing the apocalyptic weapon and by destroying the factory, effectively stopped the outcome of the war.being very different.

Directed by Anthony Mann(director of El Cid), this 1965 movie is a very true re-creation of exactly how the mission actually happened.

Another great movie for that lazy rainy sunday afternoon, curled up on the sofa

Saints and Soldiers
Saints and Soldiers

No:10 Saints and Soldiers

Winner of 13 international film awards, this movie, based on a true story, tells the tale of a group of American prisoners of war who manage to escape, but are without weapons and food, who are attempting to make it back to their own army's frontline.

It is an excellent portrayal of the hellish landscape of a battle-scarred Ardennes Forest of Belgium during World War 2.

Their perilous mission takes it's toll on the men and their lives hang in the balance. A gripping tale of ordinary men and the mission that made them heroes.

Directed by Ryan Little, Saints and Soldiers is a very powerful, wartime story of survival, morality and honour, well worth a watch and I highly recommend it.


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    • rjbatty profile image


      2 years ago from Irvine

      And give "Patton" an honorable mention.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Would like to find (iTunes) judgement at Nuremberg, and Audie Murphy tale "here to eternity" (I think)

    • rjbatty profile image


      3 years ago from Irvine

      If you do another list, be sure to include Steve McQueen's "Hell is for Heroes." It's a small film compared to the others listed, but we must not forget those treasures from the earlier era.

    • Adam Allcroft profile image

      Adam Allcroft 

      3 years ago from Sheffield

      Can't fault the films you put on here, but I would have liked to see Full Metal jacket and Paths of Glory on here!

    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      4 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Hi vocalcoach, Glad you enjoyed the hub, Schindler's List is a great film and another of my favourites though I find it difficult to watch more than a couple of times unlike the films I have listed which i could watch over and over again!

      Hi mio cid,

      Deer Hunter, platoon and Full Metal Jacket all superb films too, unfortunately I could only choose 10, but maybe I'll have to write another hub for the next 10! :)

    • mio cid profile image

      mio cid 

      4 years ago from Uruguay

      I would put in the list ,The deer hunter,Platoon,and Full Metal jacket.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I enjoyed this hub and the list of your favorite war films. I love WW2 movies. "Schindler's List" is a favorite of mine. Voted up and sharing. Thanks.

    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      4 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Hi amandajoyshapiro,

      I have indeed seen Black Book and really enjoyed it, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image


      4 years ago

      It's unique you included Das Boot. Too many people omit non-American films when talking about WW2 movies. If you really want to be different, there's a Dutch film called Black Book (2006): In the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II, a Jewish singer infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance. Check it out!

    • bensen32 profile image

      Thomas Bensen 

      5 years ago from Round Lake Park

      This is a good list, few others I would have had on there but these are some good ones.

    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      8 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Thankyou goodmovies, McQueen is the epitomy of cool, love him!

    • goodmovies profile image

      Randy Ray 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Great list--it's always fun to find more Steve McQueen fans on Hubpages!

    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      8 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Thanks CASE1WORKER, glad you liked it. I'm a bit of an anorak on war films(particularly WW2), not everyone's cup of tea I know, but great entertainment I reckon! Story of the Spitfire coming soon.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      8 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      well done dave- a good assortment of films- one or five of them are as my husband says so well known for us to be word perfect on them


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