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War Movies in the 1970s

Updated on July 19, 2013
tillsontitan profile image

Mary has been a movie fan since she was a little girl. She watched movies every night of the week on Million Dollar Theater..

Who can forget O'Hoolihan
Who can forget O'Hoolihan | Source

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..

M*A*S*H Quotes

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:, 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 Kr├╝ger, 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 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.

Kelly's Heroes

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! (

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

Apocalypse Now
Raid on Rommel
The Deer Hunter
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Too Late the Hero
You Can't Win 'Em All
The Boys in Company C
Coming Home
Too Late the Hero
Darling Lili
Inglorious Bastards
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 . 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.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

"Bringing you movies that are part of your memories."


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks tsmog. Saving Private Ryan is in my 1990s hub but of course I agree it was a great one! Happy to provoke good memories and I must agree, who you see the movie with and what is going on at the time, of course, add to your memories of the movie(s).

      You're welcome jainismus.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Thank you for sharing this.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great tribute to three of the best and all time classics Mary. Very well written and provokes a lot of great memories - the movie itself, who it was watched with, and the social arena of that time period.

      I say "knock it off with the negative waves" daily in the work place. And, when it is break time I retort, "I'm going to go soak up some rays." A bridge too far had a large cast with many like Redford and John Wayne. That is a turning point movie for John too if I am thinking right. That is near to when he begins portraying characters of wisdom more than righteousness. Cantankerous of course, yet offers wisdom of purpose toward an end seeking less loss. If I were to pick three WWII movies at this moment I would pick Kelly's Heroes, A Bridge Too Far and Saving Private Ryan.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      So many great performances draw us to a movie, even when its dark. Isn't it funny how we can watch these movies over and over and never get tired of them? Glad you enjoyed RC.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Mary -

      M*A*S*H was the first movie I was able to see at the drive-in theater in my own car! I loved it then and still do. Although I like the others mentioned, the "dark side" of "Apocalypse Now" tends to draw me to it more than the rest. Of course, if I'm flipping channels and happen upon "Kelly's Heroes" the flipping stops immediately! Love It! Great Hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks for digging in Thomas. More will come in time.

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      ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      It WAS Kelly's Heroes! lol...Patton certainly has survived the test of time as did most the others on this list. I remember my mom took me to see Midway in the theaters three times (she was also a big fan of the genre!)

      I shall be keeping my eyes pealed for a 90s decade!


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I'm so glad I picked one of your favorites. Believe it or not I know every scene you're talking about.

      What a great memory your grandmother made for you...those are the things we never forget!

      Thanks for your great comment and vote!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      A nice addition to your War Movies series....A Bridge Too Far is one of my favorite movies ever.....the first time I saw it, I traveled cross country with my grandmother(Virgina Beach to Portland, Oregon) and one day she said we were going to the we had to walk to this very old huge theater...probably sat 1000 people it least....that afternoon the theater probably had 50 people at most....and I watched A Bridge Too Far for the first time.

      So many great lines, great scenes and memorable has stuck with me......some of my favorite moments.

      (1) James Caan making the doctor look at his "supposedly" dead superior

      (2) Gene Hackman questioning which side the planner was on when he told Hackman where his troops would be landing

      (3) Robert Redford crossing the water in the very old boats.....and you get Cliff from Cheers fame in those scenes as well

      (4) Anthony Hopkins and his right hand man(Umbrella Guy) telling the Germans they could not accept their surrounder....because they did not have any room for the German soldiers.

      Mash and Kelly's Heroes are also very good.....but I can talk about A Bridge Too Far till the cows come home...voted up and awesome.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      You've listed some good movies rj. Thanks for stopping by.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 5 years ago from Irvine

      The war movies that stand out in my mind from this period include:


      Apocalypse Now

      Tora! Tora! Tora!

      A Bridge Too Far

      The Beguiled

      Johnny Got His Gun

      Slaughterhouse Five

      Kelly's Heroes is a fun flick. I never really cared for M*A*S*H. I suppose it was supposed to be a black comedy, but it just didn't work for me. Neither did the TV show.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Life as a Blog, good of you to stop by!

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      Monty Hamilton 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Excellent choices. I especially love MASH!

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      mikeq107 5 years ago

      Your welcome Mary :0) Knew you would get a kick out of that one !!!!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Oh Mike, how cool is that! Now you know you'll finish the book (though I'm sure you would even without his encouragement). That is really a sign though Mike, meeting the son of the author of M*A*S*H! Thanks for sharing.

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      mikeq107 5 years ago

      Mary Love it brings Back memories...I loved Kelly`s Hero`s Boy I replayed that a 1000 times back when I had my first VCR....but have a good story for you and You will get a kick out of this.....

      Recently I went for a motorcycle ride to the coast ( In Oregon) to enjoy the sunshine and get some writing inspiration on a book I,m trying to finish...well got the sunshine at Cannon beach and the INSPIRATION !!!!???? Met a guy called "Jim Hornberger" who is the The son of "Richard Hornberger" A.K.A Richard Hooker who wrote ...drum roll please!!!!!!!!!! " M.A.S.H".....Met Jim at a viewpoint he approached me Thinking I was a fellow Biker he had met the day before..... he lives in Maine and was touring the west coast...He greatly encouraged me....we talked for a long time as you can imagine...Thanks God for the great encouragement....:0)

      .Later Mary :0))) OOO Mike :0)

      54Like · · Share

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Sometimes it helps to look back so we can go forward Bill.

      I know Deb, it's so great to remember!

      Thank you both for reading.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Wow do i remember these movies..i was in my twenties in the seventies.....excellent hub.....really enjoyed this thank you..debbie

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A great list Mary and I've seen them all. I love looking back at some of the classics. Thanks for awakening my memory and bringing these back to life.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Everything changes with the times, even war movies tirelesstraveler. I can imagine you mother's shock (even though she thought M*A*S*H was funny) definitely not your average war movie!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      War movies really did change in the 7o's. Still I love Kelley's Hero's. I was in high school when my mother and my best friend and her mother went to see MASH. BF and her mother were horrified. My mother was an army nurse in WWII, she and I thought it was hilarious.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks sligobay. As you could tell from my Mary Maxwell video, I prefer humor to deal with the day to day. Glad you enjoyed my choices here.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

      Hi Mary: I saw all three of the movies reviewed and am glad that you lean toward humor. Patton and Deer Hunter would have given this Hub a much different feel. Great Hub.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I'm so happy you enjoyed this Lord. I am also happy to hear that you think the movies today, though very good, sometimes miss the mark in acting and/or interpretation...I thought it was just something 'older' folks noticed.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Hy Mary,

      You captured my attention to the end. Your three 'showcased' movies were excellent. What Really amazed me was the acting. When I go to see a movie today I sense all kind of role interpretations but they do no get close to those classics. Christian Bale from Batman for instance, doesn't deliver like Sir Lawrence Olivier or Donald Sutherland. It must be me...!

      I loved those selections, and I have missed so many. I was in first Grade in 1969, so by the time I saw Jaws or Star Wars, I left behind so many great movies. I can watch them now with more time and all. Great review Mary. I really enjoyed it!


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      So glad I could help bring back good memories TT.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Mary. Funny, I was thinking the same thing (about the actors).

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Oh, yes, these were good movies. They just don't make um like they used to, do they?? I couldn't help but think when I read these titles, of how many of these great actors have died?

      Great Hub, I voted it UP, and will certainly share.


    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      My dad loved war movies and I think I've seen almost all of them on your list. Thank you for the walk down memory lane of afternoons spent watching these with dad. :) VUM!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Ah Mohan, movie buff I am but not too up on the latest movies so I depend on you for that! One hand washes the other and all that. Glad to have you aboard! As the decades moved forward war movies were more realistic and showed both sides of the story as you pointed out.

      b.Malin glad you enjoyed this hub and hope to see more of you.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      Good Hub, Mary. Yes, I remember a lot of these movies, and agree with your analysis. I also remember one called "Battle Cry" with Aldo Ray. I don't remember what year it was made. But I was a kid, and fell Madly in LOVE with him...I would love to see that one again.

      I now look forward to Following your Hubs.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Great selection here Mary, Have seen them, liked them and all three are on my ' if I catch a rerun on TV, will sit down and watch it again' list. The seventies were more anti-war than war movies- where apocalypse now, Bridge too far, Kelly's and MASH showed that war is not all it was cut out to be- no more glorifying the battles and stiff upper lips but to show that i could be people having fun or people getting hurt and not always upstanding heroes. I am loving your movie themed hubs. I am glad to have found a fellow movie buff! voted up of course.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Suzette, seems we all need ways to cope and humor is one of the best. Glad you enjoyed my hub!

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      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      I have seen all three of these movies you have reviewed and I'm glad you chose these three. We need a rest from Viet Nam movies. I enjoyed all three of these movies for the same reasons you did. MASH, the movie, is my all time favorite war movie followed by Catch-22. I worked for the Dept. of Defense in Germany off an army base, and I found the antics of MASH to be so true to life, even though my base wasn't a surgical unit. Just a hoot! Great Hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Jools. It's always nice when someone agrees with you ;)

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      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Mary, three great choices - I would happily sit down to watch any of these but of these, A Bridge Too Far is my favourite. I have seen MASH quite a few times but prefer the TV show version. And you're right, Clint Eastwood is always worth seeing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Effer you are an especially good friend! You even read my hubs on war movies. What more could I ask for? I'll start researching gnats this week ;)

      Thanks Vocalcoach. Actually I was a child of the forties myself. Praying for soldiers is second nature to me too! Thanks for stopping by.

      Josh you make my day! Its so nice for an old f@# like me to be able to impress a youngster like yourself ;)

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Awesome reviews! These are some classic movies, and I wasn't even born yet! :) You do a great job with all of your hubs! I am glad I am following you, keep up the great work! :) Many votes and sharing!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I have to second fpherj48 comments. Especially the last two lines. :)

      You've done a terrific job here and I enjoyed reading this . As a child of the 4o's I was brought up on war movies. One of my favorites was a movie titled "Back to Bataan." (Before your time.) It left such an impression on me that after I came home from this movie I began praying for our soldiers and have never stopped. A big UP!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I want you to know, that for no one else but YOU, would I read a war movies Hub......although, M*A*S*H hardly qualifies as depressing and violent!! ......and btw, I love the TV series (reruns) and like "Seinfeld" & "Frazier," can watch them over and over.

      Can't say I've seen any of the others, but you already suspected that.

      "Kudos," to you for this job so well-done & researched!

      When I enjoy a writer's work.....I will read whatever they, if you choose to do a hub on the reproductive habits of gnats.....I'm on it, GF!!! UP++

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Steve...first to comment and as always interesting comment. I liked Patton and found Apocalypse Now very intense! Sutherland was a riot in both M*A*S*H and Kelly's Heroes.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Good work Mary, a nice list of favourites. I've seen all of these many times over the years. From the three you've picked I'll pick A Bridge Too Far as my fave, its packed with great actors and spectacular scenes of war. MASH is a classic and Kelly's Heroes is good fun, Sutherland a hippie in WWII!

      My two top favourites of the 1970s appeared at opposite ends of the decade - Patton (1970) and Apocalypse Now (1979).

      Voted Up and Interesting.