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Awake In The Dark
What you're watching these days on the Big Screen and the Small Screen.


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Old November 18th, 2004, 01:41 PM   #31
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i'll be catching la grand illusion soon, keith, have you seen the other renoir films?
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Old November 18th, 2004, 03:48 PM   #32
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No I haven't had that complete a film education. Especially with the French directors.
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Old November 18th, 2004, 06:25 PM   #33
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Although it may not be a narrative film about fighting and planes and bombs, it's still WWII material:

Nuit et Brouillard
(night and fog)

I personally think it is 32 of the most powerfull minutes on film.
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Old November 18th, 2004, 10:39 PM   #34
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You have all named many fine films, but, under the heading of American War Movie, I have to go with Patton, and The Deer Hunter, the latter of which i just enjoyed again on DVD. It is truly an amazing film, maybe not even a "war" movie, as the actual screen time for war violence is minimal. But no one can forget the russian roulette scene on the river. As for Patton, well, George c. Scott was fantastic, even if he wouldn't accept the Oscar.
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Old November 18th, 2004, 10:42 PM   #35
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Oh, and on the lighter side ( if there is such a thing ), Kelly's Hero's never fails to entertain me.
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Old November 19th, 2004, 11:51 AM   #36
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Just saw "Tora Tora Tora" again on TV. What the heck were the makers of "Pearl Harbor" thinking. Oh yeah- money. "Tora Tora Tora" is a way better movie- IMHO.

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Old November 19th, 2004, 12:49 PM   #37
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Not quite WWII or WWI movies for the first two:

THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER - This is one of the great flying movies about an American pilot played by Robert Redford who missed his chance at being a WWI flying ace and now makes his living as a barnstormer. After a tragic accident he loses himself in the midwest until he is recruited to be a stunt pilot for a film about a famous duel between two aces, an event he wishes he had taken part in. On the set he discovers that the real life German ace will be flying the opposite stunt plane (though he is being played by a younger, handsomer actor). This sets up the confrontation he had always dreamed about.

THE THIRD MAN - The classic post-war Carol Reed movie about a writer in post-war Vienna who becomes wrapped up in a search for his supposedly dead friend, a notorious black marketeer sought by the British authorities. One of the top films ever with a memorable end chase. Starring Orson Welles.

Orson Welles is in another sort of spy thriller called THE STRANGER. He plays an escaped Nazi who is hiding out in a small town as a teacher. Edward G. Robinson is the federal agent who is trying to sniff him out. The ending is a really wonderful almost Hitchockian setup. Welles directed this one.

This year THE BIG RED ONE was re-released after being restored as per Sam Fuller's script. It was written up in Film Comment but I never got a chance to see it (maybe it didn't come to Vancouver). I only remember it when I saw it as a teenager. Did anyone see the restored version? The film follows one unit of Americans from North Africa to the Italian campaign to the end of the war. There is also an interesting sublot involving a 'shadow' unit of Germans they keep tangling with.

No one also has mentioned Sam Peckinpah's brutal CROSS OF IRON which is about a veteran unit of German infantry who are fighting on the Eastern Front. It stars Lee Marvin as the cynical leader Steiner who has to help his men survive even as they are sent on suicidal missions by their superior played by Maximillian Schell.

Another overlooked WWII movie is THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN, about the true battle for one of the last standing bridges over the Rhine which is protected by fanatical (though they are depicted as human) Hitler Youth and Volkskorp (third rate) soldiers. Both sides alternately try to save and blow up the bridge which becomes a symbol of futility.

Not as well made, though starring an assortment of stars was A BRIDGE TOO FAR based upon the Cornelius Ryan non-fiction book. I've read the book and it has an energy and flavour entirely missing from the film which nevertheless is full of good actors from Anthony Hopkins, Liv Ullman, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Michael Caine and lots more I've forgotten. Although it was shot on location and uses lots of hardware, it pales in comparison in its depiction of urban warfare to Saving Private Ryan with a lack of gore and other realism that modern audiences expect. It also does not compare very well to the The Longest Day which is also based upon a Cornelius Ryan account.

Less well-known than Operation Market Garden is the story of a joint Canadian-American unit called THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE starring William Holden. It is the account of the precursor to today's special forces, the First Special Service Force, made up of mountaineers, lumberjacks, hard rock minors and other hard men recruited from all over North America to fight on mountain peaks and rugged terrain. I've read oral histories about these guys and they were tough. The movie "The Devil's Brigade" is all right - I don't really remember it that well. But it's a story worth telling because of its little known history. The real unit eventually earned the name "The Black Devils" from the Germans because they were the first large unit who trained to fight at night, often hand-to-hand. Although they were always outnumbered, they made up for it by patrolling aggressively and always keeping the enemy off-balance.

TOO LATE THE HERO is a zesty and surprisingly humane adventure starring Michael Caine who plays a British soldier on a Pacific Island split in two by Japanese and allied forces. Caine and an American played by Cliff Robertson realize that a passing convoy will come under attack by the Japanese and have to traverse the length of the island in order to destroy a Japanese communications station. I say humane because although the action is in close and brutal, it also questions the inhumanity of warfare. They question taking prisoners, the length to which they will go to complete the mission.
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