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The Ten Best World War II Movies For Dad

Updated on June 24, 2014

Well, These are the Movies My Father Watched - He was a World War II Veteran

My Mother called these my Father's "Bing, Bang, Boom!" movies. These are reviews through his eyes, from my memories.

I remember seeing these movies many times over the years and watching them now is a little nostalgic for me. If he were alive today, he would have these DVD movies in his inventory. When he died, the Beta video was popular, that gives you some idea of how quickly some things change.

My Father would provide the commentary and I remember him making the same comments at the same points in the movies; he passed away in 1987 and I can still hear his voice. Funny, I do the same thing myself now. You know, how you always said, "I will never say/do what my Father/Mother said/did?" Then it pops out of your mouth and it is a real eye-opener.

My Father was in D-Day and although most of these films were not historically accurate, he still enjoyed watching them. I have included his comments in each so you can experience it like I did!

Thanks for visiting, read, do the quizzes, enjoy and please, leave your comments! Please leave some comments at the end to tell me what you think of his perspective!

Photo in Collection of Author - My Father, Charles C. Villars, in Germany holding a captured German Luger during World War II

Music Soundtrack for Your Visit - Turn it up and enjoy music from "The Band of Brothers"

World War II - Through My Father's Eyes

Disclaimer: If you walk around making little shooting or exploding noises after watching these films, I will not be held responsible. I hear that watching a Chick Flick will almost stop it like Tylenol stops a headache.

My Father was involved in D-Day so he had every right to review these movies.Who better than through the eyes of someone that was there? No, he wasn't a pilot; nor did he participate in every major battle or experience that occurred. However, he was alive at the time and being in the Army, he knew first-hand what actually happened. What the soldiers learned may not be revealed to the public until many years later, if at all.

There are some historical inaccuracies, as I have mentioned. I will try to let you know what my Father thought of these depictions and maybe what I think of them.

I have included a Dad Meter - These are what my Father thought of these movies in regards to their historical accuracy. Unfortunately, the films are all embellished somewhat so he would not have given any of them an "Excellent rating." That may come later with documentaries if reviewed at a later time. The meter looks like this:

There is nothing like accuracy. Ask any Historian what their opinion of "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer," or "Jesse James versus the Martians" is, and you will know what I am talking about.

The Sands of Iwo Jima - 1949 - John Wayne

Sands of Iwo Jima
Sands of Iwo Jima

My Father liked this movie although he was not in the Pacific Theatre (vs. Japan). My Uncle, however, was. My Father liked this movie because it depicted the Marines in a tough-as-nails fight leading up to the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. He also liked John Wayne, not so much in Westerns but in these blood and guts battle films.

A little trivia - The flag used in this movie was the same one that was raised on Mount Suribachi during World War II.

A must see and although it is black and white, it is very well done. It was also nominated for several academy awards including John Wayne, for best actor.

Dad Meter - Historically, this is a pretty good film. Dad noted the actual landing craft used and I have noted that the actual flag was used on Mount Suuribachi

 

The Flying Leathernecks - 1951 - John Wayne

Flying Leathernecks
Flying Leathernecks

John Wayne is the new Commander and has to get a bunch of ruffians in line. My Father liked this one because of John Wayne's no-nonsense demeanor and the way he snaps the troops into shape to complete the mission.

My Father always talked about "completing the mission" and even as a child, he taught me to always complete what I start and to use the instructions. No doubt, he got a lot of this from his tough military life.

A great movie with some pretty cool flying scenes for the period.

Dad Meter - Historically, this is a fair film. Some of the vehicles were not accurately portrayed and painted poorly in some instances to mimic other types of planes. There is some actual footage in this film, which Dad liked and the main character is based on a Medal of Honor recipient, although the names has been changed. This is a Howard Hughes production and he embellished it a little to make it stand out.

 

The Longest Day - 1962 - John Wayne and Robert Mitchum

The Longest Day (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
The Longest Day (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

This was one of my Father's favorite films. It not only was about World War II, it was about something that he participated in, D-Day. He liked John Wayne's acting that the twist in this movie of what happened from the other side. Since he only knew the Allied side, he was particularly interested in the German perspective.

We went to Omaha Beach when I was young and he told us everything that happened. He was part of the Engineers on the beach who went in ahead of everyone else and used metal detectors to find mines. While he himself was a truck driver, he lost friends on the beach and in the days that followed.

I like this one because I have visited Omaha Beach and can relate to what is happening. The more realistic version is "Saving Private Ryan" but it was filmed long after my Father passed away.

Dad Meter - This film was a good film on the Dad Meter. My Father loved it. This film was based on actual historical accounts and incorporated consultants and advisers. One of the most historically accurate on this list but still has some Hollywood in it.

 

D-Day: The Sixth of June - 1956 - Robert Taylor

D-day, The Sixth Of June
D-day, The Sixth Of June

Not your typical era war movie. This is more like the Titanic, where they take the the actual event and revolve a romance around it. It wasn't my Father's favorite, but I do remember him watching it.

This one is based more on human interest and reminds me somewhat of "Here to Eternity," also not one of my Father's favorites.

Dad Meter - I only remember seeing this movie once or twice so I would have to deem it as very poor in my Father's eyes. My Father would watch anything that had to do with World War II or D-Day but believe me, he was far from the romantic type. There are numerous historical inaccuracies in this and only the last 15 minutes shows any action. Others may rate this higher but my Father liked the action in these war movies, not the kissy, kissy.

 

To Hell and Back - 1955 - Audie Murphy

To Hell and Back
To Hell and Back

My Father loved Audie Murphy, as did most of America during and after World War II.

This is a can't miss movie in which Audie actually recreated his heroism and saved countless lives. For that act, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

When returning from World War II, "Audie Murphy" was a household name and he starred in many movies and quite a few before he did this one. He didn't want to star in this due to the fact that he was very humble about his heroism. His best friend in the Army was slated to be in this movie with him but did not end up participating.

When you watch this, you can truly feel honor for serving your country. I know my Father and I both would've done the same thing if we had been presented this circumstance.

Dad Meter - This was also one of my Father's favorites and is rated a Good. This is pretty historically accurate and Audie Murphy himself played himself. You can't get much more accurate than that. There are some incorrect vehicles, including the tank that he performs his heroic act but hey, he did receive the Medal of Honor!

 

Battle of the Bulge - 1965 - Henry Fonda

Battle of the Bulge (1965)
Battle of the Bulge (1965)

The Battle of the Bulge occurred in and around Bastogne, Belgium in the Ardennes Forest, the same location as a major battle in World War I. My Father was not in the Batlle of the Bulge but knew all about it.

We visited there when I was a child and I remember the disabled tanks there as monuments, along with the trees that still had bullet strafing. My Father talked about the bitter cold that the Allied soldiers had to endure while they were virtually surrounded. This is depicted well in "Band of Brothers" and my Father would've liked that series.

A favorite of my Father's, he talked about General McAuliffe and his reply of "Nuts" when asked by the Germans to surrender.

Dad Meter - I would also have to give a Good rating on the Dad Meter. My Father loved this movie also and it was the only one at the time that depicted this part of the war. If he were to see, "Band of Brothers," however, he would probably change this to a lower rating.

 

The Great Escape - 1963 - Steve McQueen

The Great Escape (2-Disc Collector's Set)
The Great Escape (2-Disc Collector's Set)

This was one of my Father's favorites and also is one of mine. I think Steve McQueen was a great actor who met an untimely death.

This one is based on actual events. My Father appreciated the attempts at authenticity and most of this was filmed in Austria and Germany. You can tell the difference. This is really what a German Prison Camp was all about although they probably underplayed the abuse they received.

My Father could not stand Hogan's Heroes and said that was was not like that. Although I have always liked M.A.S.H., he never did for the same reason.

I don't want to give you a spoiler, but one of the very last scenes is the actual reason why my Father always told me that there would be no more German prisoners, by order from command.

Dad Meter - Yet another Good rating. This one is filmed in the actual country that it took place and is also based on historical fact. Some of the characters are not accurate and there is some sensationalism, especially in McQueen's motorcycle riding. One thing that my Father noted was that the Germans may not have been as nice as this film depicts when infractions occurred.

 

Tora Tora Tora - 1970 - Jason Robards

Tora! Tora! Tora! (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Translated as "Tiger Tiger Tiger," this is a realistic depiction of the attack of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941.

My Father was a farmer when this occurred and no doubt was like many Americans and eager to attack Japan. The depictions in this were from both sides of the War, much like they are in "The Longest Day."

My Father was drafted and went to fight in Europe but he talked about this day. He didn't live to see 9/11 but I am sure he saw it from his spot in Heaven. Another film that is similar to this is more modern and is called "Pearl Harbor." This movie came out after my Father passed aways but again, it would've surely been in his library.

Dad Meter - He liked seeing both perspectives from both sides of the war. However, you can tell with some of the vehicles and planes that they were cheaply made and not really convincing in some scenes. In addition, some of the Japanese conversations are based on speculation and not historical fact, especially dialogue by the Kamikaze. Dad liked this but wasn't overly thrilled with it. Part of it could be that he was stationed in Europe but this was a good depiction at the time on what might have occurred in some circumstances. We give this one a Fair.

 

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo - 1944 - Spencer Tracy

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

My Father loved this movie because it depicted the retaliatory strike by Jimmy Doolittle on the Japanese homeland, four months after they bombed Pearl Harbor.

While this attack did not cause a lot of damage, it let the Japanese know they we were not going to stand back and be attacked without provocation without retaliation. This event also solidified support in the USA for the war effort and the wheels started turning.

I wrote to General Doolittle many years ago and he sent an autographed photo. This event was also depicted in the movie "Pearl Harbor," many years later and long after my Father had passed away.

Dad Meter - A Good on the Dad Meter. This is a good depiction of the actual circumstances of Doolittle's Raid with some footage taken during the time period. There is a little embellishment and a fictional storyline romance. Dad liked this one. He liked seeing how we retaliated after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

Patton - 1970 - George C. Scott

Patton (Cinema Classics Collection)
Patton (Cinema Classics Collection)

What can you say about George C. Scott or General George Patton? It is no surprise that they have the same first name.

Patton was a character and my Father loved his no-nonsense approach and no holds barred statements. While I don't suggest that you try the language that Patton used at work, it is interesting to hear the philosophy of this controversial man.

When I lived in Europe, I went to his grave and it was solemnly quiet there. Although my Father thought that Scott was a little overly-theatrical, he still liked this movie. Not for the person who wants to watch a quick movie before you go eat; this is over 3 hours long.

Dad Meter - This film would be rated Fair by my Father but since it won so many awards and is so historically accurate, we will give it a Good. My Father loved the character of Patton but wasn't crazy about George C. Scott. This movie shows several historical aspects of World War II and also gets into some personal conflicts that Patton had. There is some artistic license in this film and as I have said previously, my Father wasn't too interested in the deep personal aspects of character. It was not his favorite war movie, but he liked it.

 

Movies & Television Shows My Father Would've Loved - If he were still alive

"I never worry about action, only inaction." Winston Churchill - Please provide some active comments

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    • renewedfaith2day profile image

      renewedfaith2day 4 years ago

      Good choices. I think that Tora Tora Tora was great. I watch it every time it is on.

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @senditondown: These are all from World War II, you should rent them, they are worth a watch!

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @vinodkpillai lm: Thank you! I am glad his choices are appreciated!

    • vinodkpillai lm profile image

      vinodkpillai lm 5 years ago

      Thanks for providing a writeup on your Dad along with a fantastic list of great war movies.

    • senditondown profile image

      Senditondown 5 years ago from US

      I enjoy war movies, but haven't seen most of these.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very good selection of movies.