“Nazis. I hate these guys.”: 15 WWII Movies Worth Watching Before You See Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Who knew that the Nazis — one of the most brutal regimes in the history of brutal regimes — would be responsible for such fun, mind-blowingly awesome entertainment? The second I see a dude in a grey German uniform and an eye patch enter the frame, I’m like “Whoa. That Nazi is going to provide me a great amount of entertainment this evening”. So, with Inglorious Bastards having recently premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, I figured I’d put together a list of some awesome WW2 films as a resource for anyone wanting to beef up their WW2 film knowledge before checking out Tarantino’s self-proclaimed ‘masterpiece’. It’s worth noting that I focused on older films — pre-1980 for the most part — and only the stories featuring Nazis. It was tough to cut this down to 15 films, but I’m sure you all will be able to come up with some movies I’ve forgotten or haven’t seen. I’m also sure we’ll get lots of people wagging their finger at the absence of Saving Private Ryan, so to be clear: I like that film. Just didn’t make the list.

Anyways, have a look and be sure to make some time to check out some of these films before August! (I will be posting a companion piece to this list at The Documentary Blog, featuring some recommended documentaries on WW2 and the Nazi’s. Stay tuned!)

15. ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1975)
Directed by Don Edmonds

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS

Even though I don’t think Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS is anywere near the caliber of filmmaking represented elsewhere on this list, I do think it’s worth mentioning as the forefront of an entire sub-genre of torture films spawned from the horrible stories that have surfaced regarding the gruesome experimentation that took place in some Nazi concentration camps. The term “Nazisploitation” has since been coined to describe this group of low-budget, graphic torture films that managed to combine the exploitation and women-in-prison sub-genres within a “historical” WW2 setting. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen the censored version of this film and as I watched it, an abrupt cut would interrupt any full frontal nudity or graphic content. Total buzzkill. I can’t say whether or not Ilsa is the best representation of this sub-genre, but I will say I was caught up in its ridiculous characterizations and am amazed that these movies may be the sole representation — in fictional narrative terms — of the atrocities that took place in these camps. And before you ask, I haven’t seen any of the sequels. (For documentary fans, check out Joe Berlinger’s Grey Matter, which looks at some of the Nazi experimentation on the brains of the mentally handicapped.)

14. FIVE FOR HELL (1969)
Directed by Gianfranco Parolini (as Frank Kramer)

Five for Hell

Gianfranco Parolini’s (credited as Frank Kramer) awesome spaghetti WW2 film Five for Hell gives us a goofy but fun look at the American GI as seen through an Italian lens. Gianni Garko (credited as John Garko) plays Lt. Glenn Hoffmann, a bubblegum chewing, all-American who assembles a team of soldiers to infiltrate a German hideout to steal some secret Nazi war plans. We’ve seen the story many times before, but the inconsistent tone and oddball characterizations make Hell for Five a particularly unusual viewing experience. Like all American GI’s, Lt. Glenn Hoffmann’s weapon of choice is a hollowed-out-lead-filled baseball which he whips at the heads of whatever Nazi soldiers get in his way. Even better is the fold out miniature trampolines carried by his platoon, turning an otherwise typical storming of a Nazi base into a glorious circus act. The horrors of war indeed! Worth noting; a great score by Elsio Mancuso (credit as Vasco Mancuso), a great perfomance by Klaus Kinski as a nasty Nazi officer, and a hefty serving of crash zooms. Hell for Five isn’t perfect — and certainly has its slow moments — but it’s a fun watch that proves that in the hands of the right people, stereotypes can be fun!

13. MAN HUNT (1941)
Directed by Fritz Lang

Man Hunt


Fritz Lang’s ‘Man Hunt’ is the only film on this list to have actually been in production DURING the war. In fact, after it’s release in 1941, Lang had originally been criticized for portraying the Nazi’s as being too brutal; a result of his extreme anti-Nazi sentiments. Looking at it now, I’d say it seems pretty harmless in its characterizations. I almost didn’t include it on this list seeing as it isn’t really a war film per se, but rather a Hitchcockian thriller with a touch of The Most Dangerous Game. Walter Pidgeon plays Captain Alan Thorndike, a big game hunter who’s decided to hunt down the biggest and baddest game of all; Adolf Hitler. Caught in the act by an SS soldier, Thorndike is captured and thus eleminated; or so they thought. He stows away on a ship, making friends with a young Roddy McDowall (like, 10 year old young). Quick on his heels is a German agent, played by John Carradine, who eventually catches up with Thorndike and thus, adventure ensues! A great film that illustrates the early influence of the war on American filmmaking. (Before you ask, Fritz was born in Austria, but Man Hunt was an American production.)

12. PLAY DIRTY (1968)
Directed by André De Toth

Play Dirty

I liked Play Dirty because of its pacing and it’s quirkiness. Michael Caine plays Captain Douglas; a British Petroleum executive whose comfortable existence as a port contractor is shattered when he’s assigned a dangerous mission: travel deep behind enemy lines and destroy an Afrika Corps fuel depot. He’s accompanied by a rag-tag group of officers led by Captain Leech — an ex-con whose only concern is to get Douglas back safely in exchange for an extra 2000 pounds promised to him by his Colonel. The group also contains a homosexual couple, which must’ve been an interesting choice for the time. The team disguise themselves as Italian soldiers and make their way across the deserts of North Africa. There’s some great action in the film, and a wonderfully mundane — and long — sequence in which the men must hoist their vehicles up a steep hill. The sequence plays like Fitzcarraldo in the desert! Director Andre De Toth handles the film with elegance and style and I was surprised by some of the stylized cinematography; specifically, a sequence in which the soldiers bury some men after a fire fight. The dutch angles and quick cuts has an intense Sam Raimi-esque feel that was an interesting choice. In the end, some might find Play Dirty somewhat dry (no pun intended) but I thought it was an interesting take on the WW2 film.

11. INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978)
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari

Inglorious Bastards

There seems to be some confusion surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s ‘borrowing’ of the title and the overall influence of Enzo G. Castellari’s Italian WW2 film ‘Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato’, a.k.a. The Inglorious Bastards. Tarantino’s film is definitely not a remake but certainly seems to be utilizing the basic premise (which is obviously taken from The Dirty Dozen, and I’m sure can be attributed to tons of films previous to that) and seems similar in tone. Castellari’s version was goofy at times and certainly didn’t shy away from comedy. Although not as directly geared towards humour as Kelly’s Heroe’s may have been, it showcases the charm and oddball sensibilities that you might find in many spaghetti westerns. The film also touches upon some similar plot points seen in a few other films on this list; the men are heading to Switzerland, as are the soldiers in Von Ryan’s Express, and they’re end up taking part in a mission involving the German’s V2 rockets, as do the commando’s in Operation Crossbow. It’s another great representation of the Italian take on American’s in WW2.

10. CROSS OF IRON (1977)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah

Cross of Iron

Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Cross of Iron’ is the only film on this list that’s told strictly from the viewpoint of the Nazi’s, and maybe that’s why it never received much attention. As expected, it’s both dark and violent, and at times might be a little too cerebral for the average war film fan. It’s certainly the least ‘fun’ film on this list, but the complexity of its characters — most notably James Coburn’s Sergeant Steiner and Maximilian Schell’s Captain Stransky — and the viscerally engaging action sequences give Cross of Iron a personality of its own; albeit maybe one of a chaotic, drunken madman. The direction is quite solid as Peckinpah makes good use of slow motion and his colour palette is appropriately drab and desaturated; something that would become almost a cliche in modern war films. Worth noting; the opening credit sequence is particularly effective, mixing stock footage of the Hitler youth and the botched invasion of Russia while underscored by an upbeat German folk song.

9. FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE (1978)
Directed by Guy Hamilton

Force 10 From Navarone

Unlike The Guns of Navarone, Guy Hamilton’s Force 10 From Navarone could probably be considered slightly fluffy and maybe even a little campy. You could say that this film is to The Guns of Navarone as Moonraker is to Guy Hamilton’s own Goldfinger. Hell, Richard Kiel — Jaws from Moonraker — even makes an appearance! Luckily, I liked Moonraker and I loved Force 10 From Navarone. It definitely has that 1970’s James Bond look and feel; diffused cinematography, dated optical compositing and a generous use of miniatures. The plot is a bit complicated, but essentially the two lead surviving characters from the original Guns of Navrone are assigned to a new mission; infiltrate Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia and hunt down a German spy who’d they thought was previously executed. Of course, they’re eventually side tracked and end up attempting to blow up a bridge. Go figure. The story might be a bit of wild goose chase, but I found it to be a great adventure and a ton of fun watching this small group of soldiers eluding the enemy, only to be caught, and elude yet again, and get caught yet again, and so on. The film pretty much picks up where The Guns of Navarone left off, starting with a long — and unnecessary — recap, only this time, Gregory Peck and David Niven are replaced by Robert Shaw (his second last film) and Edward Fox. Joining them on their mission is a young post-Star Wars Harrison Ford and a young pre-Action Jackson Carl Weathers. Worth noting; a pre-Strange Brew Angus MacInnes plays one of the allied soldiers, eh? Beauty.

8. KELLY’S HEROES (1970)
Directed by Brian G. Hutton

Kelly's Heroes

I know some people have reservations about the casting of comedic actors in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Does this mean the film will be…funny? I certainly hope so. If there’s anything Tarantino can do well, it’s black comedy. It’s also a decision that’s in line with some pretty great war films of the past; mainly Brian G. Hutton’s Kelly’s Heroes. With a solid ensemble cast including Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Don Rickles and Telly Savalas, Kelly’s Heroes managed to combine the action and thrills of a decent war film with some good, usually subtle comedy. In fact, the tone and the plot — a group of soldiers infiltrating enemy lines to steal some Nazi loot — is reminiscent of David O. Russel’s ‘Three Kings’, a film that I loved. Worth noting; an awesome theme song and a great performance by Carroll O’Connor as Major General Colt.

7. OPERATION CROSSBOW (1965)
Directed by Michael Anderson

Operation Crossbow

Even though its story is loosely based off of a real military mission, ‘Operation Crossbow’ is more of a lesson in adventure than actual history. George Peppard (best known as Hannibal on the A-Team) stars in this extremely fun espionage thriller that was more than likely an answer to the James Bond craze of the sixties. The film follows at team of engineers who volunteer to be sent behind enemy lines to sabotage a Nazi rocket that could destroy London. The three men, fluent in German, take on the identities of dead Nazi officers and embed themselves within the enemy camp. The twist; their new identities may not be as solid has they’d expected when the men discover that one of their Nazi alter-ego’s is wanted by police for murder! Totally awesome! Sophia Loren received top billing even though she simply makes a cameo in the film; an apparent favour for her then husband and producer of Operation Crossbow, Carlo Ponti. Also worth noting; Trevor Howard, who plays a skeptical science advisor, was also in Von Ryan’s Express! Incestual WW2 movie making rules!

6. VON RYAN’S EXPRESS (1965)
Directed by Mark Robson

Von Ryan's Express

Imagine ‘The Great Escape’ on a train and you’ve pretty much got ‘Von Ryan’s Express’. Old Blue Eyes plays Colonel Joseph L. Ryan; an American pilot shot down in Italy only to be captured and brought to a P.O.W. camp. Surrounded by British soldiers, Ryan finds himself forced into a leadership role after discovering the previous high ranking officer had been killed. After the Italians surrender to the German’s, Ryan and his troops end up re-captured and shoved into boxcars to, I assume, be transported to a German P.O.W. camp. After accusations of treachery – hence the nickname -˜Von Ryan’ – Sinatra’s character decides to lead an escape plan which sees them escaping from their boxcar through a hole in the floor and subsequently eliminating the Nazi guards controlling the train. After donning the German uniforms, the men must guide the train through enemy territory towards freedom; Switzerland! This movie is tons of fun and features a pretty crazy moral crisis for Sinatra’s character and an ending that more than likely surprised audiences upon the films original release. Worth noting; a great Jerry Goldsmith score!

5. THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967)
Directed by Robert Aldrich

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen, as far as I can tell, seems responsible for creating its own sub-genre. Any films featuring a band of unlikely misfits on a suicide mission are usually referred to as being ‘like the Dirty Dozen, only with (fill in the blank)’. Much like Die Hard and Speed resulted in films being described as ‘Die Hard…on plane’ or ‘Speed…on a train’. Lee Marvin leads this crew of military criminals, some sentenced to execution, as they attempt to infiltrate an enemy chateau on the eve of the D-Day invasion. The Dirty Dozen features yet another great ensemble cast with many names mentioned elsewhere on this list, including Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown and John Cassavettes. Definitely one of the more unconventional war films of the time and certainly a representation of the era in which it was made, The Dirty Dozen is totally bad ass.

4. THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961)
Directed by J. Lee Thompson

The Guns of Navarone

Like Where Eagles Dare, The Guns of Navarone is a fun, albeit much slower, thrill ride that finds a small team of officers infiltrating a seemingly impenetrable German outpost. This time, Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn are among a team of men who accept the mission to sabotage a pair of guns on the island of Navarone, keeping the Royal Navy from rescuing 2000 soldiers held up on the island of Keros. Disguised as Greek fisherman, the team approach the island and scale a massive cliff wall, immediately reminding me of The Princess Bride — yet not once reminding me of the opening of Star Trek 5. There’s a great relationship between Peck and Quinn’s characters, who at one time were friends yet now are enemies forced to work together. Sort of like Balki and Larry in Perfect Strangers. The Guns of Navarone is an epic journey and certainly set the bar for many adventure films to follow.

3. WHERE EAGLES DARE (1968)
Directed by Brian G. Hutton

Where Eagles Dare

This could be the most fun I had out of all the WW2 films on this list. There’s something about snow Nazi’s that really gives me a solid buzz. Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton lead a team of British commandos (Eastwood being the sole American) on a mission to infiltrate a Nazi castle and rescue a captured Brigadier General. The cool thing? The only way to access the castle is by cable car! (A sequence that is later imitated in Moonraker) There’s tons of action and adventure mixed with a touch of espionage and a few plot twists. Definitely a fun time. Worth noting; Where Eagles Dare is one of three films on this list based off of novels written by Alistair Maclean, but the only one in which he wrote the screenplay. The other two are The Guns of Navarone and Force 10 From Navarone.

2. THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)
Directed by John Sturges

The Great Escape

Here’s a film that successfully combines the horrors of Nazi P.O.W. camps with the universal fun of tunnel digging. Seriously, I remember watching this movie when I was a kid and being totally enthralled by the trolly system these guys had going. It’s like The Dog Who Stopped the War, only with guns instead of snowballs and no dog. (Note: It’s nothing like The Dog Who Stopped the War) This could manage to hold ones interest simply from an engineering aspect; nevermind the awesome cast (Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, James Garner) and cool action, all at the hands of the amazing John Sturges. A definite must see for all film fans and a movie that simply couldn’t be left off of this list.

1. THE BIG RED ONE (1980)
Directed by Samuel Fuller

The Big Red One

Samuel Fuller’s ‘The Big Red One’ manages to cover so much ground and assemble so many characters that it puts The Band of Brothers to shame. His trademark grittiness and occasionally heavy handed social commentary shines through as we follow the 1st Infantry Division — nicknamed ‘The Big Red One’ — from North Africa to Sicily, and eventually to Omaha beach on D-Day. Lee Marvin plays Sgt. Possum, who’s experience in the first world war finds him leading his “Four Horsemen” through some pretty crazy situations, including delivering a baby inside of a panzer tank — a scene that plays out quite hilariously in contrast to the otherwise morose tone of the film. Star Wars geeks will recognize this film as the ‘Luke Skywalker war movie’, as Mark Hamill plays Pvt. Griff, a soldier who refuses to kill. I was lucky enough to see the fully restored Cannes 2004 version of the film — now available on DVD — as Fuller intended it to be seen. This version was put together under the supervision of Richard Schickle after Fuller passed away. Please take the time to check out ‘The Big Red One’. And while you’re at it, have a look at his Korean war film, ‘The Steel Helmet’.



  • JackieD

    Great list of movies! Seen most of them and am def looking forward to inglorious bastards. Thought this list could use a few more contemporary films though. Tim Blake Nelson’s “The Grey Zone” (2001) is a favourite of mine although not many people have seen it. I also LOVED valkyrie – missed it in theaters but rented it on blu-ray a few days ago. Good link i found is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haF29n7lSUw

  • saw Man Hunt – awesome!

    !!!SPOILER WARNING!!!

    the guy at my rental shop started telling me that there is stuff online that reveals the referenced movies for each chapter in Inglorious Bastards. I told him I didn’t want to know but it got to my ears before he would stop. Apparently, each chapter references non war films like Days of Heaven. Jay might want to search and add this as an aside. I also see a lot of footage is coming on line from the Cannes screening:

    http://www.cinematical.com/2009/05/20/first-reviews-and-clips-for-tarantinos-inglourious-basterds/

  • oh, and there is a great little “making of” thingy on my copy of Man Hunt; I didn’t realize that Hollywood, and specifically Man Hunt, was brought up on charges by the US government for violating the Neutrality Act the US had prior to entry in to the War. Man Hunt was indicted but Pearl Harbor made the case null and void!

  • Howard

    Great list, but just one little cavil: I was a little taken aback by the comment that Jerry Goldsmith’s score for _Von Ryan’s Express_ is “worth nothing,” especially when it is described as “great”; I suspect that you meant “worth noting.”

    There is a genre that might be described as anti-war-film (not just anti-war, like _Grand Illusion_); I wasn’t crazy about _How I Won the War_, but I would definitely want to put _Castle Keep_ at the top of that list, and maybe in this list as well.

  • Whoops. You’re right Howard, his score is worth ‘noting’. I’ll have to fix that. Thanks for the comment!

  • Rich W

    “Samuel Fuller’s ‘The Big Red One’ manages to cover so much ground and assemble so many characters that it puts The Band of Brothers to shame.”

    You have to be kidding. The Big Red One extended edition was quite a bit better than the original theatrical release as it attempts to cover alot. One could have used the 10 part mini-series treatment the 101st 506th Easy got. But it hardly puts Band of Brothers to “shame”.

    On Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes… I saw them both at a drive-in and was immediately hooked.

    Cross of Iron has to be one of the best war films out there.

  • MG Shanks

    I have ‘Five For Hell’ on a disk with some other movies and have never made it through the first few minutes. It is just awful! For a good laugh, look up the review on IMDB.com

    And I have never understood why so many people compare ‘Three Kings’ and Kelly’s Heroes’ as being similar. The only thing they have in common is the subject of gold.
    Kelly’s Heroes is a classic example of great casting, action and humor. If your not looking for a factual WWII education and just want some great entertainment, it’s one of the best! And is a favorite in my collection.
    If I had a DVD of Three Kings, I would use it as a coaster to set my drinks on.

  • STALAG 17

  • ThreeFingerMary

    I agree with u guys about Downfall, good movie. You gotta see “the Counterfeiters” if you haven’t yet. Awesome! Based on real event/people. Like Downfall it’s German too, so rednecks who can’t read subtitles may want to pass on these movies.

  • Greg Wilson

    Lot of talk about Valkyrie here…while I agree the accents at first were a little bit…odd, I got over them fairly quickly, and was pulled right into the story. I thought the acting was really good all around, and the tension (despite the fact that I was aware of the final outcome) was well done. I especially liked the amount of work that went into making it as authentic as possible. Really enjoyed it, is what I’m saying.

  • Michael

    The Dirty Dozen is probably in my top10 for favorite movies. Really fantastic. I haven’t seen Big Red One, I might have to rent that.

  • David

    What about Das Boot, The Longest Day, and The Battle of Britain? And some not so Nazi- The Devil’s Brigade, Command Decision, and 12 O’Clock High.

  • El Hefe

    Lee Marvin’s character in _The Big Red One_ is billed simply as “The Sergeant”. He used the name “Possum” to alert the lieutenant to the fact that he was about to give a ficticious report.

  • Puma

    There must be something wrong w/ me because I LOVE THESE FILMS(all but’Ilsa,The Shewolf’, but I’m willing to tolerate that one)!!! I say that ‘cuz I’m a female and most of my gf’s find this genre of films boring. But I love the actors they use, the subtle machismo (key word here:SUBTLE), and confidence that their characters possess, not to mention the fact that these men were real heroes ready to put their backs against the wall to preserve life & liberty for the oppressed!! I need a cold shower.:o)

  • Emma

    I’m female as well, but I love WW2 films. I grew up watching “The Dirty Dozen”, “The Great Escape”, and many others with my father, and I always enjoy discussing and watching new ones with him.

    I was sad to see my favorite WW2 film (“Sahara”) left off the list. From 1943, it stars Humphrey Bogart in charge of a very ragtag group of soldiers and two prisoners (one of whom is–you guessed it, a Nazi). Then the group decides to hold off a Nazi battalion from a waterhole, although the only firepower they really have is a tank.

    It’s a great film, but not nearly as well known as most of the others on your list.

  • steve

    I cannot fathom your choices except for the Guns of Navarone and the Great Escape!!!
    The 1950s movie Tobruk comes to mind.
    Also the following:
    Reach for the Sky..
    Battle of Britain,
    A Bridge too Far
    The Longest Day,
    The Dambusters,
    Patton.
    Someone mentioned Slaughter House Five which essentially is a Love Story, using the Dresden Bombing by the RAF as a backdrop, to Kurt Vonnegurt’s wonderful tale.

  • Second post
    also include
    Mr Klein starring Alain Delon Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, Francine Bergé, Juliet Berto, Jean Bouise, Suzanne Flon, …
    The Last Metro.
    Stalag 17
    The Malta Story: Alec Guinness.
    Sink the Bismark
    That’s enough for now…

  • Marius Langbein

    The Victors (1963)
    Directed by: Carl Forman

    This film is impossible to view much less obtain. It is hard to believe that it is suppressed, even to this day. The makers of this movie must have really pissed someone off.

  • ignatius

    Besides “Das Boot” and “Der Untergang” which already got mentioned, other lesser known German / Austrian WK-II movies include:

    08/15 (1954)
    Der letzte Akt (1955)
    Enemy at the Gates (2001)

  • Nimadan

    Marius,

    This guy says he has “The Victors”:

    http://www.joesclassicmovies.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=554&gclid=CN766fPSupsCFQtN5Qod9ifZ_w

    I just found the site now so I cannot verify whether he’s on the level or not.

  • Zardoz

    Not a very good list, although I did like Cross of Iron. Better to watch:

    The Longest Day
    King Rat
    They Were Expendible
    Hitler: The Last Ten Days
    Battleground
    G.I. Joe
    39th Parallel
    Inside the SS
    Best Days of Our Lives
    The Dam Busters
    The Hill
    Back to Bataan
    Decision at Dawn
    The One That Got Away
    The Search

  • B1G_D0G

    cross of iron-exceptional
    kelly,s heroes-ditto
    also
    too late the hero
    when i was a kid mosquito squadron did it for me too but not so much now
    oh and bridge over da kwai

  • Of this list, the only three I don’t already have on DVD are the first three: Ilsa, Five For Hell, and Man Hunt. (So, for the sake of completeness, I’ve gone off and ordered them…) I have yet to watch a couple of the others … but I’ll get to them soon… :-)

  • Monster

    O.K., now make a list of the top 15 PACIFIC war movies! That would be GREAT!!!

  • Pete

    I remember seeing The Steel Helmet when it was released. I am sure the version being shown now has been edited. There is a scene where Sgt Zack kills a North Korean soldier posing as a woman refugee. For some reason it was cut out.

  • David

    Great list (esp Dirty Dozen & Kelly’s Heros, 2 of my all-time faves)…How ’bout:

    Patton
    Stalag 17
    Saving Private Ryan
    Das Boot
    1942

  • Kev

    Got to be the Russian film “Come and See” for the best WW2 movie.

  • andrew Cathcart

    WW2 films from a European perspective are also worth watching e.g.;
    ‘Come and See'(Russian) ‘Stalingrad (German) Europa Europa (German) ‘Two Women’ (Italian) Self-Made Hero (French)’Dunkirk’ (English) Dark Blue Sky (Czech)Hansum (Norway)

  • Bruce

    Quintin’s movie is more of the 60”s 70’s exploitation genre, such as Kill Bill was to Kung Fu movies. I don’t think a big budget films (Guns of Naverone, Great Escape)should be on this list. IMO, the list should be more of the low budget schlock like “5 for Hell”. Another movie that should be on the list is “The Hornet’s Nest”. Quintin is not just paying tribute to WWII European theater movies, as much as the low budget productions which poured out of Europe after the war. Quintin is paying tribute to the hokey, campy WWII movies of the genre.

  • FredrikH

    @Cathcart: And do not forget the 2 fantastic finnish war movies Talvisota and Tuntematon sotilas.

  • Carla O’Neill

    Come on–what about: A BRIDGE TOO FAR!!!!!!!!!!

  • Carla O’Neill

    Airforce, The Sands of Iwo Jima, The Flying Tigers…

  • Mike

    Let’s give a shout-out to the late Ron Goodwin, who did the rousing scores to a few of these – Force 10, Operation Crossbow, Where Eagles Dare – and several other British based WW2 movies, like Submarine X-1, Battle Of Britain, and 633 Squadron, as well as Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. His scores are as much a part of these movies as the action is. If you like his music there’s a collection of his scores’ main themes downloadable as mp3’s from Amazon.

  • katy

    gosh! thanks to everyone for mentioning all these great movies! (i guess some of them really are great!). Got to try and find some of them!

  • Zonker

    Great list… a few I need to see. I love science fiction, but forget Luke Skywalker… Mark Hamill firing those single shots into that oven at the concentration camp… being given another clip instead of told to stop…. that moved me as much as anything like Schindler’s List… more. This is the first I’ve ever seen of recognition to The Big Red One, my favourite WWII movie.

  • Marius Voinea

    A list of best WWII movies without “Saving private Ryan ” ???? Are you guys blind ?????? The opening scene in this movie only, makes more than the whole list here !!!……Great escape a top ten ???????? Pathetic !!! Donald duck is better than that!!

  • Great list!

    I’ve thought of two more WWII films you should check out.

    Stalag 17 and Castle Keep. You should definitely give these two films a watch if you haven’t already done so.

  • bad bob

    can’t believe no one brought up Roger Corman’s”The Secret Invasion”. Made in’64,he beat “The Dirty Dozen” to the punch.

  • Penelope

    Wow! Great list, but you forgot a recent release, that is fantastic. “Flame & Citron”, Its a Danish movie, sub-titled, but a breathtaking thrill ride. This is such a great movie. The thing I never liked about American WWII movies done in the sixties, was that all the women were made up to look like they were walking through a sixties movie. No real feel for the forties. This movie got it all right. Check it out.

  • Henrik

    Flame and Citron is a fucking disgrace. And when I saw it, it wasn’t even subtitled!

  • Chris

    Band of Brothers (I know it’s a mini series but hands down the best WWII movie)
    1941
    Patton
    The Thin Red Line
    Kelly’s Heroes
    Stalag 17
    Das Boot
    Dirty Dozen
    Pearl Harbor
    Defiance
    The Longest Day (for its cimematography)

    I agree I don’t like the big budget WWII movies like Saving Private Ryan, A Bridge to Far, to many stars ruin it for me. But S.P.R. almost made me cry.

  • Chris

    oh and Hell in the Pacific

  • Sylvan

    An excellent list, indeed!

    I must disagree with those who do not care for “Saving Private Ryan” merely because of it being “Big Budget Hollywood”; it was -for me- the first time I saw a World War II film that -to me- brought home the scope of the conflict while, simultaneously, getting into intricate details of both personal and brutal life on the lines. From this, you may guess that I’m not one for war films.

    That said, World War II films like “Casablanca” are favorites of mine and “The Great Escape” certainly belongs on this list! Kudos! :)

  • Nilay Vishwakarma

    nice list . You must Also add Schindlers List Man . Thats really worth watching

  • I was wondering if you knew the name of an old WWII movie. I remember there was a woman and her family home was destroyed and she was arrested but then rescued by a german soldier whom she then fell in love with. Later in the movie she was engaged to a jewish guy and had to explain that she wasn’t a prisoner but his lover. Do you think you can help?

  • motoman

    I’d like to nominate “Anzio,” another dark and cynical, if historically questionable, WW2 film from the ’60’s. Robert Mitchum as a (pacifist?) war correspondent, Earl Holliman as the obligatory Sergeant, and a creepily effective Peter Falk as a pathfinder. A semi-Spaghetti war film as the crew was Italian.

    For some really camp butchering of history, how ’bout Battle of the Bulge? Cringeworthy nonsense starring Robert Shaw, Telly Savalas, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews and Charles Bronson.

    Play Dirty, BTW, is one of my favorites.

  • Josh

    Did anyone mention The Devil’s Brigade?

  • mac mackenzie

    whys cross of iron even in your list? theres only 1 party member in the film, and nobody likes him… best war films all seem to be foriegn, das boot, stalingrad, letters from iwo jima, days of glory, brotherhood, assembly, americans just cant do war films too much cigar chompin gum chewin brooklyn tom sizemore style numptys in them

  • Dave

    I guess you could come out with a list of the 15 most mediocre movies and get an argument but I’d like to toss in my two cents worth too. I think you were talking German not Japanese fascists here so “They Were Expendable” and others in that vein like what I consider perhaps the best war movie ever, “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo” (they everything right in that movie except casting tall, full head of hair Spencer Tracey as short, bald Jimmy Dolittle)kinda don’t apply. Also someone mentioned “Pearl Harbor” apparently not knowing what a steaming pile that turkey was. Real war movie aficionados retch at the mention of that dog, call it the polar opposite of “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo”. That having been said I’d like to note the following two films. “What did you do in the War Daddy?” is particular favorite of mine. It’s hard to find and was panned by critcs because it was a comedy but I think this attitude
    comes from the fact that the bulk of movie critics were never in the military. They say that combat is hours of boredom interspersed with moments of abject terror. Humans tend to find humor even in such bleak surroundings. I remember reading where a war correspondent asked a B-17 tail gunner why he decided to become a tail gunner and he replied “It’s the only outfit I know of where you can retreat at 300 miles per hour”. “What did you do in the War Daddy” is a riot with two of my favorite actors, Dick Shawn and James Coburn. It even has Carroll O’Connor doing the hard nosed general bit he pulled off so well in other flicks. It even has a super patriotic flag waving finale so if you’re an America hating nutball either get over it or skip watching it. (BTW if you happen to be an America hating nutballit’s not likely you will find any of the movies cited here any fun to watch at all) The other movie is called “The Secret of Santa Vittoria”. It too is a comedy, but not the laugh variety. Like “What did you do in the War Daddy” it’s set in WWII Italy and pits town drunk Anthony Quinn against ubicquitous bad guy kraut Hardy Kruger. Santa Vittorias claim to fame is unique and tasty wine and when the towns folk replace their local fascist government with the town drunk they get the idea that they may have been a touch impetulant when the Nazis show up and announce they intend to approriate the towns entire stock of wine. The rest of the flick is spent showing Quinn leading the town in ingeniously hiding a million bottles of wine from the germans. Not a shoot’em up like “Where Eagles Dare” but great fun. I don’t know your age but I’m 52 and I’ve found to my distress that most people under thirty have never heard of these films. The modern movies young folks watch are slick and high tech but I find the great majority of them to be either stupid, offensive or both they lack the character and originality of older movies.

  • Francis Ouseph

    There is the classic Odessa File which is not in your list. No other film can move you the way it does.