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Film Archive
Film Archive (G through M)
Organized Alphabetically by Title
Page 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm (2002)
Director: Richard Loncraine
A remarkable cast lends emotional richness to The Gathering Storm, an HBO movie about the life of Winston Churchill just prior to the onset of World War II. Faced with bankruptcy, his career in decline, Churchill (Albert Finney) is beset with depression until the impending danger of German rearmament--along with the British government's reluctance to recognize the threat of Hitler--gives him a cause that brings him back to energetic life. The movie focuses as much on the enduring relationship between Churchill and his wife, Clementine (Vanessa Redgrave), as his political struggles. But though The Gathering Storm clearly admires Churchill, it also acknowledges his tyrannical personality and astonishing ego, turning what could be a puff piece into a well-rounded and moving portrait. The truly topnotch cast includes Derek Jacobi, Jim Broadbent, Tom Wilkinson, Linus Roache, and Lena Headey, all of whom turn in superb performances. --Bret Fetzer

A Generation

A Generation (1954)
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Andrzej Wajda's directorial debut, the first film in his compelling war trilogy, marked the beginning of the Polish film renaissance. Wajda, who fought for the Resistance during World War II, offers a strikingly unsentimental appraisal of heroism in the tale of a cocky Polish youth who decides to fight the Nazis after he falls for a pretty Resistance leader.

Gentleman's Agreement

Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Starring: Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire
Director: Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan directed this sometimes powerful study of anti-Semitism in nicer circles, based on Laura Z. Hobson's post-World War II novel. Gregory Peck is a hotshot magazine writer who has been blind to the problem; to ferret it out, he passes himself off as Jewish and watches the WASPs squirm. Seen a half-century later, the attitudes seem quaint and dated: Could it really have been like this? Yet the truth of the story comes through, in the wounded dignity of John Garfield, the upright indignation of Peck, and the hidden ways bigotry and hatred can poison relationships. That's particularly true in the Oscar-winning performance of Celeste Holm, who finds more layers than you'd expect in what seems like a stock character. --Marshall Fine

The Great Escape

The Great Escape (1963)
Starring: Steve McQueen, James Garner
Director: John Sturges
A stirring example of courage and the indomitable human spirit, for many John Sturges's The Great Escape is both the definitive World War II drama and the nonpareil prison escape movie. Featuring an unequalled ensemble cast in a rivetingly authentic true-life scenario set to Elmer Bernstein's admirable music, this picture is both a template for subsequent action-adventure movies and one of the last glories of Golden Age Hollywood. Reunited with the director who made him a star in The Magnificent Seven, Steve McQueen gives a career-defining performance as the laconic Hilts, the baseball-loving, motorbike-riding "Cooler King." The rest of the all-male Anglo-American cast--Dickie Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Garner, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, James Coburn, and Gordon Jackson--make the most of their meaty roles (though you have to forgive Coburn his Australian accent). Closely based on Paul Brickhill's book, the various escape attempts, scrounging, forging, and ferreting activities are authentically realized thanks also to technical advisor Wally Flood, one of the original tunnel-digging POWs. Sturges orchestrates the climax with total conviction, giving us both high action and very poignant human drama. Without trivializing the grim reality, The Great Escape thrillingly celebrates the heroism of men who never gave up the fight. --Mark Walker

The Grey Zone

The Grey Zone (2001)
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
The title of Tim Blake Nelson's harrowing drama of Jewish death camp prisoners who rise up against their captors to "destroy the machinery" refers as much to the compromise and cloudy morality of collaboration as to the gray world coated in the smoke and ash of the crematoriums. Inspired by real-life events at Poland's Auschwitz death camp, The Grey Zone stars David Arquette as a soul-deadened laborer whose being fiercely jolts to life when he finds a young girl alive among the gassed corpses. He's the heart and soul of an outstanding cast that includes Steve Buscemi and Daniel Benzali as revolt leaders, Allan Corduner as the shunned camp doctor, and Harvey Keitel as the commandant. Nelson's rapid pacing, intimate shooting, and terse, jagged dialogue give the moral debate a discomforting immediacy as it races a deadline. When doom hangs in the air, sure death creates unique priorities. --Sean Axmaker

Guadalcanal Diary

Guadalcanal Diary (1943)
Starring: Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan
Director: Lewis Seiler
This is a far cry from The Thin Red Line, but it's engaging and efficient World War II propaganda about the opening of the South Pacific campaign that would ultimately turn the tide of the war. Anxious and unsuspecting Marines land on the Solomon Islands and quickly learn how to engage the Japanese in foxhole warfare. It's full of archetypal characters (tough sergeant Lloyd Nolan, Brooklyn cabby William Bendix, lusty Mexican Anthony Quinn, and gravel-mouthed Lionel Stander) and well-staged battle scenes. There's even a battle-weary narration to provide authenticity and historical perspective. All around, a good grunt film. --Bill Desowitz

Gung Ho!

Gung Ho! (1943)
Starring: Randolph Scott
GUNG HO! is the true story of a special battalion picked from the toughest men in the U.S Marines and given the dangerous mission of recapturing Japanese-held islands in the South Pacific during World War II. Hollywood tough guy Randolph Scott stars as their commander, Colonel Thorwald, who recruits and trains the soldiers--collectively known as "Carlson's Raiders"--in all imaginable forms of combat, culminating in an explosive battle sequence at the Japanese stronghold on Makin Island. The film, which also features a great performance by legendary icon Robert Mitchum, introduced the expression "gung ho" to the American vernacular and was an important piece of morale-raising propaganda during U.S. involvement in World War II.

The Guns of Navarone

The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Starring: Gregory Peck, David Niven
Director: J. Lee Thompson
This rousing, explosive 1961 WWII adventure, based on Alistair MacLean's thrilling novel, turns the war thriller into a deadly caper film. Gregory Peck heads a star-studded cast charged with a near impossible mission: destroy a pair of German guns nestled in a protective cave on the strategic Mediterranean island of Navarone, from where they can control a vital sea passage. As world famous mountain climber turned British army Captain Mallory, Peck leads a guerrilla force composed of the humanistic explosives expert, Miller (David Niven), the ruthless Greek patriot with a grudge, Stavros (Anthony Quinn), veteran special forces soldier Brown (Stanley Baker), and the cool, quiet young marksman Pappadimos (James Darren). This disparate collection of classic types must overcome internal conflicts, enemy attacks, betrayal, and capture to complete their mission. Director J. Lee Thompson sets a driving pace for this exciting (if familiar) military operation, a succession of close calls, pitched battles, and last-minute escapes as our heroes infiltrate the garrisoned town with the help of resistance leader Maria (Irene Papas) and plot their entry into the heavily guarded mountain fort. Carl Foreman's screenplay embraces MacLean's role call of clichés and delivers them with style, creating one of the liveliest mixes of espionage, combat, and good old-fashioned military derring-do put on film. In 1978, the sequel Force 10 from Navarone was released, but MacLean fans will prefer to check out the action-packed thriller Where Eagles Dare. --Sean Axmaker

Halls of Montezuma

Halls of Montezuma (1950)
Director: Lewis Milestone
Lewis Milestone was the American cinema's premier maker of war movies for three decades. He won an Academy Award for the single most honored film about World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), and made one of the most distinctive contemporaneous films of World War II, A Walk in the Sun (1945)--a notable influence on Saving Private Ryan. Still, some of his efforts were rather less than milestones, including The Halls of Montezuma. That still leaves room to accord the picture a marginal recommendation; it's well cast, competently made, and free of "Hollywood" heroics. But the hallmarks of Milestone's style--such as his syncopated tracking shots--were becoming mannerisms, and the screenplay's rhythms of personal crises set against the bigger picture of the military campaign are pretty mechanical. Richard Widmark stars as a Marine platoon leader who, having brought only seven of his men through Guadalcanal, is determined to see them safely through the next island conquest. The lieutenant was a schoolteacher in civilian life--as we see in flashbacks--and one member of his command is a former student (Richard Hylton) he helped overcome fear. Other platoon members include ex-boxer Jack Palance, trigger-happy bad boy Skip Homeier, hardcase veterans Neville Brand and Bert Freed, and Karl Malden as a philosophical corpsman. However, the most arresting performance is given by Milestone discovery Richard Boone, making his screen debut as a sympathetic colonel stuck with fighting the Japanese and fighting off a miserable cold at the same time. --Richard T. Jameson

Hanover Street

Hanover Street (1979)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Lesley-Anne Down
Director: Peter Hyams
Harrison Ford is impossibly young and handsome as an American pilot in the World War II romance Hanover Street; Lesley-Anne Down (The Great Train Robbery) is stunningly beautiful as the British nurse who falls in love with him, despite being married to British intelligence agent Christopher Plummer. In fact, everything about Hanover Street is just a little over the top, from the insanely romantic dialogue to the absurd war-buddy banter of Ford and his bomber crew to the love-making montage in which Down seems to have at least a dozen orgasms. Down and Plummer have a daughter (played by future Lethal Weapon 2 love interest Patsy Kensit) who's so precious and precocious you just want to smack her. The whole thing is almost a camp pastiche of a war romance--but when Ford and Plummer find themselves together behind enemy lines, you'll suddenly discover that you're caught up in the story. Through sheer movie-star charisma and cunningly ridiculous plot mechanics, Hanover Street becomes not only entertaining, but even touching. Plummer is particularly good as an ordinary man who wishes to become something more, Ford is stalwart as only he can be, and Down is just too lovely to resist (it's hard to understand how her career ended up with the likes of Beastmaster 3: The Eye of Braxus and Death Wish 5: The Face of Death). All in all, a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic experience. --Bret Fetzer

Hart's War

Hart's War (2002)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Anyone who appreciates subtle tension will enjoy this World War II prison-camp drama, based on John Katzenbach's novel, in which honor, courage, and sacrifice are revealed in unexpected ways. Bruce Willis plays the ranking U.S. prisoner in a Nazi POW camp, joined in December 1944 by a law-student lieutenant (up-and-coming star Colin Farrell) who'd been captured despite his father's powerful military connections. When a black pilot (Terrence Dashon Howard) from the famous Tuskeegee airmen is falsely accused of murdering a fellow prisoner, Farrell tries his case and discovers the real motivation behind Willis's kangaroo court. While combining elements of Stalag 17 and The Great Escape, director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Frequency) spices this moral dilemma with well-crafted suspense and a rousing dogfight sequence, but the human drama remains muted despite fine, understated performances by Willis, Farrell, and Howard. An escape thriller with an ethical twist, Hart's War works best as a study of heroism under extraordinary circumstances. --Jeff Shannon

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum
Director: John Huston
If a war movie can be lovely, this is it. John Huston directed this touching World War II story about a Marine (Robert Mitchum) stranded with a nun (Deborah Kerr) on a Pacific island overrun by Japanese. After initial antagonism, the resulting kinship between the two characters is human and civil, even after Mitchum's grunt understandably falls in love with his unlikely companion. The action scenes, in which the pair works together to stay ahead of the enemy, are first-rate. The actors have never been better, and Huston's perennial theme about destiny's denial of our dreams is achingly clear in this essentially two-person drama. --Tom Keogh

Hell is for Heroes

Hell is for Heroes (1962)
Director: Don Siegel
Don Siegel brings his tough worldview and crisp, no-nonsense direction to this quintessential World War II drama of an undermanned American platoon in France holding off a German advance through sheer bluff and bravery. Steve McQueen is curt and surly as the insubordinate loner whose tactical skills and soldiering savvy make him indispensable to his new unit. His reputation precedes him, but commander Fess Parker is in no position to be choosy when he learns that his tired platoon will not be shipping home as rumored, but tossed into a ragged new offensive. Harry Guardino costars as the soulful Sarge; James Coburn is the slow-talking, forever-tinkering mechanic; Bobby Darin is the scavenger with a small fortune in trinkets; and Nick Adams is the Polish orphan and unit mascot. Bob Newhart makes his feature debut as a hopelessly lost typing clerk drafted into the undermanned unit and re-creates his nightclub shtick making phony phone calls near a Nazi listening post in the pillbox. Like Pork Chop Hill, this film is less a patriotic flag waver than a "war is hell" drama that frames the battle not in its tactical importance (which is negligible) but in its cost in human life. McQueen's taciturn performance as a ruthlessly effective soldier and Siegel's tough, lean direction make it a modest classic of the genre. --Sean Axmaker

The Hill

The Hill (1965)
Starring: Sean Connery, Harry Andrews
Director: Sidney Lumet
The Hill was unfairly subjected to ridicule by the more obtuse "critics" of 1965 who harped on the fact that it starred Sean Connery and, unlike Connery's Bond pictures, had no women in it. Bypassing these cretinous comments, it must be noted that The Hill is an above-the-norm entry in the "military prison" genre. The film takes place during World War II, in a Libyan stockade for incorrigible British soldiers. The camp's brutal Sergeant Major (Harry Andrews) puts his charges to work on grueling, monotonous and pointless projects to break their spirits. When one rebellious inmate dies due to this treatment, the Sergeant Major is reprimanded by Joe Roberts (Connery), who has been appointed as the prisoners' spokesman. The result is that Roberts is likewise subjected to the most demeaning and humiliating of prison chores -- but his spirit, and that of his comrades, is not so easily crushed. Based on a TV play by Ray Rigby, The Hill should never be seen in any form other than its dusty, parched original black-and-white; the currently available colorized version is a crime against humanity. One problem: The British dialects in the first 20 minutes are so thick that an American viewer practically needs subtitles (British critics chalked this problem up not to elocution but to poor sound recording). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Hitler: The Last Ten Days

Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973)
Director: Ennio De Concini
Guinness gives a harrowing performance as the demented Fuhrer. Based on eyewitness accounts of the events which took place in Hitler's bunker during the last ten days of the war.

The House on 92nd Street

The House on 92nd Street (1945)
A groundbreaking film for its docu-drama feel, this film about counterespionage efforts against Nazi spies in New York was filmed with the cooperation of the FBI. This exciting story was based on an actual incident in which a Nazi agent attempted to steal parts of the atom bomb and uses newsreel as well as location shots to give it atmospheric authenticity.

In Harm's Way

In Harm's Way (1965)
Starring: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas
Director: Otto Preminger
Otto Preminger's sprawling World War II drama packs a lot into its 165 minutes, beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor (which Preminger re-creates in amazing detail) and ending a couple of years later with America's return to the South Pacific in force. John Wayne and Kirk Douglas star as a career naval captain and his self-pitying commander in the peacetime navy who are thrust into battle when Pearl Harbor is bombed while they are on maneuvers. Minutes into WWII, they are already scapegoated and demoted by the embarrassed military brass. Wayne romances a WAVE nurse (Patricia Neal) and attempts a reconciliation with his estranged, spoiled son (Brandon de Wilde) while Douglas sinks into the bottle after the death of his cheating wife until the American fleet rebuilds and calls upon Wayne to lead one of the initial invasion forces. Henry Fonda makes a brief but commanding appearance as the fleet admiral. Burgess Meredith is a former writer turned witty commander, Dana Andrews a showy but indecisive admiral, and Stanley Holloway a genial Australian scout working with the American invasion forces. Tom Tryon and Paula Prentiss play newlyweds torn apart by the war, and also appearing are Franchot Tone, Carroll O'Conner, Slim Pickens, George Kennedy, Bruce Cabot, and Larry Hagman, among many, many more. Loyal Griggs's handsome black-and-white photography is topped only by Saul Bass's impressive closing credits sequence, a rising cascade of crashing waves and rough surf reportedly paced to mirror the dramatic rhythm of the film. --Sean Axmaker

It Happened Here

It Happened Here (1966)
British film historian Kevin Brownlow was all of 18 when he conceived the idea for this alternate-history film depicting what life in London would have been like if Nazi troops had conquered England in July 1940. Along with his friend and collaborator Andrew Mollo (only 16 at the time), he took eight years to piece the film together using borrowed equipment and begging scraps of film stock from established filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick. The result owes much to Brownlow's penchant for silent films (he authored a classic text on the subject entitled The Parade's Gone By), and possibly to Italian neorealism, since the semidocumentary style bows in that direction. Good thing, too. The documentary feel captivates the viewer. The story follows an Everybrit named Pauline as she grows from complacence and resignation over the Nazi occupation of England to when she becomes a nurse for the Nazis and realizes the true horror of her and England's situation. Brownlow's pure desire for authenticity makes the film more chilling than it would otherwise have been. For instance, on the film's initial release, Jewish groups objected to a sequence involving a real-life fascist of the time, Colin Jordan, spouting his opinion of Jews and euthanasia. They feared people wouldn't pick up on the film's anti-Nazi stance, and would therefore take the comments seriously. So seven minutes of footage were cut that have now been restored, making the film scarier than ever. --Jim Gay

Kanal

Kanal (1957)
The central film of Wajda's war trilogy follows Resistance fighters as they descend into Warsaw's sewer system (or kanaly) to escape the Nazis. Based on actual events during the Warsaw uprising in 1944, "this hallucinating picture is a heartfelt reenactment, taut and penetrating" (Variety).

Kelly's Heroes

Kelly's Heroes (1970)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas
Director: Brian G. Hutton
This tongue-in-cheek 1970 variation on The Dirty Dozen looks less fresh than it did in the year of its release, but it still has some enjoyable moments. Clint Eastwood stars along with Donald Sutherland, Harry Dean Stanton, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor, and Gavin MacLeod in the story of American soldiers who try to steal gold behind enemy lines in World War II. Sutherland's hippie G.I. doesn't have the sardonic and timely appeal he did during the Vietnam War, but the film's irreverence and several of the performances are worth a visit. --Tom Keogh

King Rat

King Rat (1965)
Starring: George Segal, Tom Courtenay
Director: Bryan Forbes
High on the list of best POW movies, King Rat bears some comparison to that compound over by the River Kwai... but this is an entirely more cynical exercise. In a Japanese prison camp, a brash American corporal (George Segal) runs a variety of money-making operations, much to the amazement of a young British officer (James Fox). Director Bryan Forbes, who adapted James Clavell's novel, follows different POWs through various strands of plot, each episode seemingly designed to highlight the dog-eat-dog nature of men held in close confinement. (In one pointedly black-comic sequence, it becomes man-eat-dog.) This was one of Segal's breakthrough roles, and his modern style fits the movie's anti-heroic, '60s approach. It was Oscar®-nominated for art direction and cinematography, which may sound odd for such a bleakly confined location, but the lucid starkness of the camp justifies the nods. The John Barry score, while apt, is similarly stark. --Robert Horton

The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home (1997)
Starring: Morgan Freeman
Director: Mark Jonathan Harris
As Allied troops liberated Nazi concentration camps in the final weeks of World War II, the trials of the Jews in Europe were hardly over. The end of the war brought extreme deprivation and even, in some places, further violence directed against survivors of the Holocaust. This documentary tells the story of the struggle European Jews faced in trying to reach Palestine, which they hoped would become the new Jewish homeland. Archival footage documents how Jews literally walked across snow-clogged mountain passes to reach the Mediterranean. In Italian ports they boarded overcrowded freighters and tried to slip past the blockage of Palestine, which was then controlled by Britain. The physical hardships were only part of the problem, and The Long Way Home does a fine job of describing the complicated political dealings that involved the United Nations, the U.S. administration of Harry Truman, and, of course, the Arab states that were hostile to the very idea of the country of Israel. Drawing on letters, diaries, and oral histories of participants, as well as interviews with Holocaust survivors and those who volunteered to help the fledgling Zionist state, an inspiring human story of courage and fortitude emerges in the course of this moving and fascinating film. --Robert J. McNamara

The Longest Day

The Longest Day (1962)
Starring: Richard Burton
Director: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton
The Longest Day is Hollywood's definitive D-day movie. More modern accounts such as Saving Private Ryan are more vividly realistic, but producer Darryl F. Zanuck's epic 1962 account is the only one to attempt the daunting task of covering that fateful day from all perspectives. From the German high command and front-line officers to the French Resistance and all the key Allied participants, the screenplay by Cornelius Ryan, based on his own authoritative book, is as factually accurate as possible. The endless parade of stars (John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton, to name a few) makes for an uneasy mix of verisimilitude and Hollywood star-power, however, and the film falls a little flat for too much of its three-hour running time. But the set-piece battles are still spectacular, and if the landings on Omaha Beach lack the graphic gore of Private Ryan they nonetheless show the sheer scale and audacity of the invasion. --Mark Walker

MacArthur

MacArthur (1977)
Starring: Gregory Peck, Ed Flanders
Director: Joseph Sargent
A biographical sketch of one of America's most famous generals. While delivering the farewell address to the students of West Point in 1962, General Douglas MacArthur (Gregory Peck) reflects on the events of his life: his achievements as the head of the American forces in the Pacific during World War II, his years governing postwar Japan, and his final campaign in Korea which led to clashes with President Harry S. Truman and his subsequent dismissal.

The Man Who Never Was

The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Director: Ronald Neame
A spy thriller about a WWII British spy trying to fool the Nazis into believing false plans for a British invasion of Greece. His nemesis is a German spy who tries to verify the identity of the British corpse on whom these false plans were planted.

The McConnell Story

The McConnell Story (1955)
Biography of Captain Joseph McConnell, a highly regarded jet pilot and hero during World War II. Film follows McConnell's life during his tenure with the armed forces, and dramatizes his relationship with wife and supporter Pearl "Butch" Brown.

Memphis Belle

Memphis Belle (1990)
Starring: Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
If you've never seen an aviation movie before in your entire life, you'll be blissfully ignorant of the fact that Memphis Belle shamelessly (and yet gloriously) incorporates just about every cliché in the flight-movie handbook. If you're a big fan of aviation movies--especially movies about World War II bomber crews--you'll be glad that the genre's clichés have been handled with such professional flair. As it follows the crew of a B-17 bomber on its final and most dangerous mission over Germany, Memphis Belle may be little more than a slick and highly authentic presentation of familiar thrills and characters, but it's a rousing piece of entertainment. Featuring an ensemble cast of fresh faces who've since enjoyed thriving careers (including Billy Zane, Sean Astin, Eric Stoltz, D.B. Sweeney, and Harry Connick Jr.), the movie exists as a fitting tribute to the men who fought and often died in the air over hostile territory. It's the Hollywood version of a 1944 wartime documentary made by legendary director William Wyler (whose daughter served as one of this film's producers), and as such it's a bit contrived and melodramatic. And yet, this exciting movie is almost certain to grab and hold your attention, offering an honorable reminder of the bravery and integrity that were crucial ingredients of any bomber's crew. --Jeff Shannon

A Midnight Clear

A Midnight Clear (1992)
Starring: Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon
Director: Keith Gordon
William Wharton's autobiographical novel of World War II becomes a moving portrait of war's madness in the microcosm of a small intelligence patrol on the German front in 1944. The unit, composed of high IQ soldiers, is sent to scout ahead. They discover a small platoon of Germans hiding in the forest, but these soldiers would rather fight with snowballs than guns and exchange Christmas presents instead of mortar fire. The young, rather unsoldierly Americans are offered the opportunity to "capture" the Germans without a fight--until a fatal misunderstanding plunges their efforts into tragedy. Director Keith Gordon, who also penned the screenplay, creates an unusually eloquent, offbeat platoon drama shot amidst the tranquil beauty of a snow-covered forest. His excellent cast includes future stars Ethan Hawke and Gary Sinise, with Frank Whaley, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, and Peter Berg rounding out the platoon. Though little seen upon its 1992 release, this moving drama received high praise for its vivid characters and delicately wrought imagery and remains one of the most powerful pacifist dramas of the post-war era. --Sean Axmaker

Midway

Midway (1976)
Starring: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda
Director: Jack Smight
Six months after the Japanese destroyed the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Americans discovered the Japanese were planning to seize the Naval base at Midway Island--a perfect staging point for invading Hawaii or the mainland. Outnumbered four to one, the Americans won a surprise victory and shattered the backbone of the Japanese Imperial Navy. This 1976 film feels more like a history lesson than a drama, but World War II buffs will appreciate the attention to historical fact (especially the way in which fate and a few bad decisions turned the tide), as well as the generous use of actual battle footage. The all-star cast includes Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, and Cliff Robertson in cameos and a whole slew of familiar TV faces in supporting roles. Hal Holbrook is fun as an oddball intelligence officer. --Geof Miller

Mission to Death

Mission to Death (1966)
A group of American infantrymen are sent on a suicide mission to destroy a radar installation deep within Nazi-occupied France. After a series of brutal attacks, the patrol makes one last heroic stand before facing its final destiny.

Mister Roberts

Mister Roberts (1955)
Starring: Henry Fonda, James Cagney
Director: Joshua Logan, John Ford
The film represents Henry Fonda's return to the screen after an absence of seven years, part of which was spent playing the eponymous officer in the immensely successful stage version of Thomas Heggen's novel. As cargo officer and second in command on a supply ship during World War II, the easygoing Lt. Doug Roberts is excluded from a much desired combat role while playing whipping boy to dyspeptic tyrant Captain Morion (James Cagney). Ensign Frank Pulver (Jack Lemmon), a brash yet cowardly wheeler-dealer, entertains Roberts with his elaborate pranks while the fatherly Doc (William Powell in his last screen appearance) offers advice. The young crew tries every available means of killing boredom, including eyeballing the nurses on a nearby island through a telescope, and Roberts does what he can to get them the R and R they badly need. The film had a troubled production history, mostly because of conflicts between Fonda, a friend of author Thomas Heggen's, and Ford, who wished to make changes that Fonda disliked. Shortly after physically attacking Fonda, Ford suffered a ruptured gallbladder and was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy. Fonda is excellent, and Lemmon gives an inspired, Oscar-winning performance in a film that flows evenly from the comic to the tragic and stands among the best World War II films produced in the 1950s.

Mosquito Squadron

Mosquito Squadron (1970)
Director: Boris Sagal
World War II aviation buffs may quibble with details in Mosquito Squadron, but they'll love it just the same. It's an average war movie, capably directed by Boris Sagal, who thrived in television before he was tragically killed by a helicopter rotor in 1981. At the peak of his post-Man from U.N.C.L.E. success, David McCallum plays a melancholy RAF ace, leading his squadron of De Havilland "Mosquito" bombers on low-altitude strikes over Nazi strongholds in Germany and France. His ground-based dilemma involves the grieving wife of his best friend, a fellow pilot presumed dead but later discovered alive with other POWs held at a French chalet where the Nazis are developing advanced V-class bombers. The RAF employs bouncing "highballs" capable of penetrating difficult targets, and the rousing climax doubles as a rescue mission and treacherous bombing run. Explosive action compensates for predictable melodrama, and Rocky Horror fans will enjoy seeing Charles ("the Criminologist") Gray as a stuffy RAF Commodore. --Jeff Shannon

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