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About the WWII war movies

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mrsl
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About the WWII war movies

Postby mrsl » May 29th, 2007, 7:54 am

Thanks for this topic Jon!

After watching several Memorial Day war movies over the past weekend, I had several questions, which naturally escape me now. I'll be back and ask them as they come to me.

One of the ones I do recall was whether you prefer John Wayne as a cowboy or as a military man? All those years as a 'good guy' cowboy just seemed to naturally train him to play all those sergeants, captains, majors and generals he portrayed during the late 40's and the 50's. He just naturally had the commanding presence to make you believe he could lead men in the way he did.

Seeing the movies now in retrospect, you realize they were mainly just propaganda devices, but what great devices they were. America was right, and the Germans and Japanese were wrong - there was no middle or grey line. The war was going on for several years before we got into it in '42. Think, as a teenager, seeing those scenes of the American G.I. marching into France and Poland, and the looks of admiration on the peoples' faces as if to say, 'the Americans have finally arrived, now our problems will be solved'. Imagine what pride the viewing audience felt, I feel it myself sometimes. I was too young to see it, but my parents told me stories of missing certain parties and events because they didn't conserve enough of their gas rations to be able to go. They didn't mind though, because they knew the soldiers needed gas for their tanks, jeeps, and planes. Spam became a staple in the kitchen like sugar and flour, again, because the 'boys' needed the fresh meat. Seeing the men drop out of planes with parachutes made the girls happy to wear anklets and bobby sox instead of nylons because the 'boys' needed the nylon.

We knew our enemies through the movies, yes, sometimes they were portrayed too harshly, but were they really? Who has heard stories from ex-POW's? Most of my uncles never talked about their bad experiences, only the comaraderies of the good ones. Even Vietnam vets don't speak much about it.

So, I ask you, what was the harm in the propaganda of the 40's war movies? Were they good or bad for us? I don't even want to think what a mess a movie about Iraq would be, mainly because the main factions in Iraq had nothing to do with the war, but also because too many innocent lives were needlessly lost on both sides to ever condone it.

Anne
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Postby MikeBSG » September 19th, 2007, 12:47 pm

I watched "Battleground" the other day for the first time in my life.

Although it was the first time, it was as if I had already seen the film before. I guess it set the pattern for every "GIs in European Theater" film that followed. Even the much vaunted "Band of Brothers" clearly owed a lot to this one.

Some realistic bits that were unexpected included James Whitmore's spitting tobacco (in an MGM film no less), the frank way people talked about getting sent back and out of harm's way, and the way the one mortally wounded soldier cried for his mother while dying. Also the frankness about stealing eggs was a bit surprising.

This was a good film, but because it has been so copied from it will never have the power it did in 1949.

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Postby nightwalker » September 19th, 2007, 3:06 pm

Hey Mike (or anyone else):

Did you ever see MERRILL'S MARAUDERS from 1962? It stars Jeff Chandler in his last role as Brig. General Frank Merrill, whose unit fought in the CBI Theater in World War II.

Written and directed by Sam Fuller, it's the story of men driven to the breaking point more by their own commander than by the enemy. The scene where Claude Akins' character begins to weep when informed that they will have to make another attack is quite moving.

Based on real incidents, which only adds to the gritty realism, the film also features one of Chandler's best performances.

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » September 19th, 2007, 4:20 pm

nightwalker wrote:Hey Mike (or anyone else):

Did you ever see MERRILL'S MARAUDERS from 1962? It stars Jeff Chandler in his last role as Brig. General Frank Merrill, whose unit fought in the CBI Theater in World War II.

Written and directed by Sam Fuller, it's the story of men driven to the breaking point more by their own commander than by the enemy. The scene where Claude Akins' character begins to weep when informed that they will have to make another attack is quite moving.

Based on real incidents, which only adds to the gritty realism, the film also features one of Chandler's best performances.


It's a good one, and several of Chandler's were similar: the reviled commander pushing his men to new extremes of valor. The Red Ball Express, and Away All Boats come to mind, and there was another where he was a 19th Century cavalry officer hated by his men - I forget the name of that one. Chandler was generally a lot better than the material he was given, and frequently made something out of cinematic nothing.

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Postby Sue Sue Applegate » September 19th, 2007, 9:02 pm

I enjoyed Jeff Chandler in every movie I ever saw him in, and he was able to make something out of cinematic nothing.

When he died tragically, I remember how upset my mother was because she loved him so much.
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Postby jdb1 » September 20th, 2007, 8:14 am

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:I enjoyed Jeff Chandler in every movie I ever saw him in, and he was able to make something out of cinematic nothing.

When he died tragically, I remember how upset my mother was because she loved him so much.


Ugh, please, Christy, don't remind me. The poor man died as a result of medical malpractice. It's one of those really stupid tragedies. His daughters received what was at the time, I believe, the largest medical malpractice suit award in California, if not the country. How could that even begin to replace such a loss? And I think that both daughters, who were about my own age, are deceased. What sadness for that family.

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Postby Sue Sue Applegate » September 23rd, 2007, 9:04 pm

Yes, Judith. I also read on imdb that there was a great incidence of cancer in his family. Both the daughters died in 2002 and 2004, I think.

He had such a quiet, peaceful quality onscreen, plus I think he was so cute.
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Postby movieman1957 » November 28th, 2008, 11:44 pm

I watched "Where Eagles Dare" tonight. I've seen it before and it still a pretty good action picture. Except for a couple of plot points to help make things interesting it mostly is action.

A couple of things struck - Clint Eastwood doesn't have a lot to do. He spends most of the movie killing Germans. Hardly any of the Germans speak German but they do have a German accent which is odd because there was no attempt to hide the main characters lack of an accent. Never have two people (Eastwood and Burton) been in plain sight so much and still managed to get through everything.

Yakima Canutt was the second unit director and it seemed like he had as much to do as the primary director. They sure did blow up a lot of stuff.
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Postby stuart.uk » November 29th, 2008, 9:23 am

Chris

I don't think Mary Ure, or her character Mary Ellison get the deserved credit for Where Eagles Dare. It's always called the Burton/Eastwood film, but it was Mary, who stood shoulder to shoulder with Clint at the back of the bus fighting of the German's, as Burton drove it. She was an important part of the mission, there to protect Burton's back from double agents.

Mary was a great actress that died young, I think commiting sucided because she felt a failure. It's a pity IMHO she didn't get the proper credit for the film, who knows it might have made a difference

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Re: About the WWII war movies

Postby movieman1957 » June 24th, 2009, 12:19 pm

I watched "The Purple Plain" with Gregory Peck. I thought it only fair. THe primary plot has Peck and two others crash land in a Burmese jungle and work their way back to their base. The trouble is it takes nearly an hour to get to this point. Then I thought it kind of predictable.

It is a very British looking film. (I mean that in a complimentary way.) They go to great detail to make everyone look hot and uncomfortable. (A rare thing in Pacific war films.) Peck is good in the lead and is well supported by Bernard Lee ("M" later) and Brenda De Banzie, whom as I recall has some fans here.

Watched it from a TCM broadcast last year.
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Re: About the WWII war movies

Postby movieman1957 » August 23rd, 2012, 8:36 am

"Guadalcanal Diary" stars Lloyd Nolan, Anthony Quinn and William Bendix among others and tells the story of this unit's time on the island.

I imagine it's typical WWII Hollywood rousing treatment of the Marines. The unit is made up of the stereotypical hodgepodge of guys from around the country up to and including dumb young kid (Richard Jaeckel) and NY City everyman (Bendix.)

The picture has some good battle scenes. They sure liked to blow things up in the picture. The stunt work seems especially noteworthy though. Lots of Japanese soldiers falling out of trees and down hill sides. The characters are well enough played and there is some humor. All in all though I wasn't enthralled with it. It suffers, for me, from being over-narrated. And especially so at the end.

I know it is generally considered among the better WWII films and parts were good especially during the battles but some of it didn't play as smoothly.
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Re: About the WWII war movies

Postby RedRiver » August 23rd, 2012, 12:46 pm

I like "Guadalcanal." Yet another "people from different walks of life" story, a concept I find enormously entertaining. GRAND HOTEL with mortar fire! WAKE ISLAND may be a better, more serious, war story. This one is lighter in tone, less tragic if I remember correctly.

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Re: About the WWII war movies

Postby JackFavell » August 23rd, 2012, 9:51 pm

Yes but is Dane Clark in it? I think he was in all those 'different walks of life' war movies.

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Re: About the WWII war movies

Postby moira finnie » August 23rd, 2012, 10:24 pm

JackFavell wrote:Yes but is Dane Clark in it? I think he was in all those 'different walks of life' war movies.

Our pal Dane the Everyman was only in Warner movies just then. I thought Guadalcanal Diary (1943) was a Paramount flick, but Chris has corrected that--it was a 20th Century Fox movie. Lloyd Nolan was wonderfully down to earth in this movie, but William Bendix and Richard Jaeckel broke your heart. There was a great scene with Quinn on a beach too. This film also presented a chaplain as more than a reason for escaping to the refreshment counter for popcorn when Preston Foster was on the screen--especially in one scene when Bendix finds a way to pray while he and the other Marines endure a horrendous bombardment. It was one of the few times when a Padre wasn't presented as a plaster saint "making with the holy stuff" in a film of this period.
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Re: About the WWII war movies

Postby JackFavell » August 24th, 2012, 8:03 am

Thanks Moira, for answering that all important question! You are actually making me want to watch a war movie.... :D


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