My Extremely Long Memorial Day Movie List (Revised for 2020)

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By Hammerhead

I have been seeing a lot of Memorial Day Movie List lately, and although some of the list are commendable, some of the list just plain suck!

So being a veteran, (and historian) I thought I might give you guys my List. I will warn you..It’s long and I did not number them because there is no certain ranking order; they are all good IMO and worth watching.

While you are enjoying the movies this Memorial Day Weekend with your Family and Friends, Remember these words. I am not sure of the author..I found it written inside a book I bought at a Garage Sale on the Revolutionary War. It was dated 1957.

“WHEN YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT, EVERYTHING IN LIFE WORTH SOMETHING, COST SOMETHING, SO WHY SHOULD FREEDOM BE ANY DIFFERENT? IF YOU ARE ENJOYING THE BENEFITS OF FREEDOM, NO MATTER HOW SMALL OR MUNDANE THEY MAY BE, IT MEANS SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE, HAD TO PAY FOR IT. NOTHING (EXCEPT THE GRACE OF GOD) IS EVER FREE IN LIFE, SO FOR US TO SIT HERE AND ENJOY THE FREEDOMS WE HAVE TODAY MEANS SOMEBODY, AT SOME POINT IN HISTORY, HAD TO FIGHT AND PAY TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE. WE CAN NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF THAT FACT AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WE CAN NEVER LET GENERATIONS THAT COME AFTER US LOSE SIGHT OF THAT FACT, BECAUSE AS SOON AS THEY DO, THIS REPUBLIC WILL PERISH FROM THE EARTH”

 

Bacon

 

Taking Chance

I know I said there was no order, but if you can, watch this one first. This is one of those movies that is more about the true COST of War than about War itself and I think More Americans need to understand that. Not a run n’ gun type flick, but definitely one that will grab your heart and make you think.

Restrepo

Sebastian Junger and Time Heatherington broke the mold for “Embedded Journalism” with this one and made one of the finest War Documentaries ever.  Most War documentaries are so heavily edited they rarely show you the complete picture of men in action. Restrepo holds nothing back. You get to see war in all of it’s Rawness and Horror with a little levity and humor mixed in as well.

The Railway Man

This movie went right under the radar of a lot of people, but I thought it an outstanding movie in a lot of respects. Both of the story of the British POW soldiers who endured the virtual HELL ON EARTH working conditions of the  Thai-Burma Railway ran by the Japanese in WW2  and of the Hell On Earth that PTSD can be for some returning veterans, regardless of what War they fought in.

Apocalypse Now

My Favorite Vietnam War Movie. I actually own 3 different versions of this movie, but the Original is the one I recommend. No other War Movie has been quoted more by popular culture than this one (I Think). I remember when I learned the story for the movie was adapted from the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad it really got me into Literature.

Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam Masterpiece and the Movie that introduced us all to the loveable R. Lee Ermey and made countless numbers of young men want to be Marines.

 Flags of our Fathers

Next to Saving Private Ryan, this is one of my FAVORITE all time WW2 Movies. I remember reading the book while deployed and it just blew me away. This movie (and Not American Sniper) is one of Eastwood’s best War Films by far.

Unbroken

Amazing true story of Olympian Louis Zamperini who after his B-24 is shot down over the Pacific, spent 47 days on a raft with his crew before becoming a POW and spending several years in a Japanese prison camp.

Hacksaw Ridge

The True story of World War II American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

To Hell And Back Again

What happens to Wounded War Veterans when they return home?If  You want an unvarnished, gritty look at that reality, watch this film. Just like any War film it is hard to watch, but I think it should be to remind people of the hardship these brave men and women have to endure when they get back. Support worthwhile Wounded Veterans charities!

 Saving Private Ryan

OK, so there is really not a lot I can say about this movie except it is THE BEST WW2 War Movie ever made in this authors opinion.

Band of Brothers (Entire DVD Set)

Me and my son watch this every Memorial Day. I know this is technically not a singular “movie” but it is one of the best mini-series EVER made about a WW2 Combat unit. If you do not own the DVD or Blue-Ray set, do yourself a favor and buy it today and watch it every Memorial Day like we do!

The Pacific

Another HBO Mini-Series Produced by Spielberg and Tom Hanks that tells the story of the Pacific Campaign of World War Two as seen through the eyes of several young Marines such as Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie and John Basilone.

Come and See

A Russian Made Film about the Horrors of Nazi Genocide on the Eastern Front in WW2. This is a tough and gritty War Movie, that cuts out the melodramatic crap you find in most WW2 period pieces of this kind…but hey it’s Russian, so what did you expect?

Black Hawk Down 

One of the best movies about Modern Urban War ever made. As a supplement to this I would highly recommend a Documentary DVD called The Battle of the Black Sea made by one of the actual members of Delta Force that was there that Fateful Day, Mr. Paul Howe.

The Hurt Locker

You will come away from this movie with a greater appreciation for people who diffuse bombs without a doubt. This is my favorite Kathryn Bigelow movie next to K-19: The Widowmaker.

Above and Beyond

A Netflix Documentary about a group of WW2 Aviators who, after surviving the War, went back to Fight and Protect their “other” Homeland; Israel. The Courage of these men absolutely inspires me and it should you too.

Lone Survivor

This is one of the Hardest War movies to watch for me personally, bu it is definitely one of the most Amazing War Stories of the 21st Century.

 The Tillman Story

The Story of Pat Tillman is absolutely one of the most amazing and heartbreaking tales you will ever hear. It is stories like this we need to pass down to future generations because it is MEN like Pat Tillman that make it all possible.

Generation Kill (Entire Mini-Series)

Again not a singular movie, but this short HBO Mini-series about the 1st Marine Recon Division as it trail blazes into Iraq in 2003 is one of the only worthwhile series (or movies for that matter) made about the Iraq War. It shows both the horrors of Modern War and the absolute hilarious (and at times dumb ass) behavior  that occurs in a Forward Deployed Military Combat Unit.

13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

I debated on including this one but in the end I feel it is a movie We All need to watch, if for no other reason to remind ourselves of what Serving A Cause Higher than Ourselves really means and also so the INJUSTICE that was committed that day by Politicians and Bureaucrats is Brought to Justice.

American Sniper

I could not include fellow Texan Marcus Luttrell’s Amazing Story in Lone Survivor without including another fellow Texan, Chris Kyles Story as well. This movie is more about how the EFFECTS of War than War Itself IMO, but irregardless it is great watch.

The Thin Red Line

This movie got released around the same time as Saving Private Ryan in 1998 and therefore it got heavily overshadowed at the Box Office. Based on the James Jones Novel about the Battle at Guadalcanal in 1942, this movie has an all-star cast and I think it will stand the test of time as one of the best movies about one of the most intense Battles of the World War Two Pacific Campaign ever made.

Paths of Glory

Kubricks Anti-War Masterpiece of WW1, I remember first watching this movie with my late grandfather. He told me when we finished watching it that “In ANY War, Bad Officers making Bad Descisions get more Good men killed than enemy bullets or bombs.” 

Beneath Hill 60

One of those “Below the Radar” World War One Movies, Beneath Hill 60 is about a little known Outfit during WW1 composed of Australian and New Zealand Miners that were tasked with digging tunnels BENEATH the German defenses. The only problem is the Germans were trying to do the same thing!

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

 

 

Top Ten World War II POW Movies Worth A Damn

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Well made World War Two POW Movies  is a very select genre for the discerning film lover. There are only a small number of films, at least in this authors opinion, that make the cut.

So enough jaw jacking… here is my Top 10 of WORLD WAR TWO POW MOVIES (in Chronological, NOT ranking order) and if you have NOT seen all of these, do yourself a favor and BINGE watch them tonight on Netflix or Amazon!

(Note: I know some of you may argue that The City of Life and Death is technically not a “World War Two POW Movie” since it occurred in Nanking in 1937. However, I would argue the movie has historical merit since a number of Europeans and Americans were held against their will by the Japanese military during this time. The film also goes to great lengths to show the Horrible brutality and genocide the Japanese Military were responsible for during this time.)

 

  1. A Man Escaped (1957)

2. A Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957)

3. The Great Escape (1963)

4. Empire of the Sun (1987)

5. Paradise Road (1997)

6. As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me (2001)

7. The Great Raid (2005)

8. City of Life and Death (2009)

9. The Railway Man (2013)

10. Unbroken (2014)

 

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

 

 

Netflix Pix & War Movies Worth A Damn: Kilo Two Bravo (Kajaki: The True Story)

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Kajaki: The True Story, released in North America as Kilo Two Bravo, is a 2014 British War Film directed by Paul Katis, written by Tom Williams, and produced by Katis and Andrew de Lotbiniere. The plot is based on the true story of Mark Wright and of a small unit of British soldiers positioned near the Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

When I first saw this movie it was not on Netflix and was without sub-titles and I gotta be honest, even though these were British soldiers, and they were speaking English, I had no friggin’ ideal what was being said. The combination of the various English regional accents combined with the British military slang will definitely confuse the average person, so with that being said, be sure you turn on the English sub-titles!

It took me a while to get into this movie, not because it is bad per se, but because it is one of those war movies where the main plot revolves around a certain incident, in this case, an ambush on a small patrol. The first 20 minutes or so of the movie are you mainly getting to know the soldiers, and what life is like on a British forward operating base in Afghanistan.

I really enjoyed the banter between the soldiers, particularly where they were quoting the famous poem by Rudyard Kipling entitled “The Young British Soldier,” wrote some hundred odd years ago by Kipling when he was deployed in the same patch of dirt as these young lads. The poem is rather long, so I will just quote the last stanza, which is by far the best:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
   An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Even if you have never been in the military, you will appreciate this movie. In part because it is a case study in the importance of having good comms during a tragedy and having good training in trauma Medicine. With the recent surge in terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the need for the average martial civilian to have some type of Medical training in treating traumatic wounds such as gunshots, stabbings and shrapnel wounds from bombs is beginning to be more and more of a Practical Skill-set to have in your toolbox.

Overall this is a no holds barred, realistic, gritty look at War as seen through the eyes of a soldier. No media bias, no Political agenda, Just a true Story of War, plain and simple.

Definitely worth an hour and half of your time.

 

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

 

Netflix Pix & War Movies Worth a Damn: The Best of Men

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I came across this one on Netflix last night under “World War Two Movies” (Now how did they know I would like those?) Anyways, this is not your typical “War Movie” per se, more like a “What Happens After a War” kind of movie. It is about a German Doctor who comes to an English hospital for paraplegic Veterans in 1944 and pioneers their recovery and care with wheelchair athletics. I guess you could call it the genesis of wheelchair sports, which currently is a HUGE deal among Disabled veterans.. Check out some of the sports these guys participate in at the Wheelchair Sports Federation

Movies like this are an important part of  the”War Movie” experience IMO because they show people that War has a steep cost; but it also shows irregardless of the injuries to the Physical bodies of the soldiers, the SPIRIT of some these men REFUSE be broken, and that is one of the most inspirational messages you can share.

Watch this Movie and I guarantee you will come away with a greater respect for ALL of our wounded warriors who are  fighting everyday to have Normal Lives despite their injuries.

Please do what you can by donating your time or money to a Charity that TRULY HELPS these Heroes.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

 

Netflix Pix for January 2016

 

The movies in this Pix are not only set during World War Two, but also deal in a subject that I have been interested in for quite a while: Intelligence Operations regarding the OSS and SOE.

 

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The Heavy Water War

As many of you know I am a HUGE fan of World War Two Historical foreign films, not because I am trying to be some elitist film critic snob but because over the years I have found some real gems.

The Heavy Water War is a World War Two Historical six part mini-series about the Nazi’s race to develop Atomic Weapons and the Allies (primarily the British SOE) subsequent race to stop them. For those of you familiar with the subject, it primarily revolves around the mission to blow up the Norsk Heavy Water Plant in Norway in 1943. Similar films have been made in the past about this mission, most notably “The Heroes of Telemark” with Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris from 1965.

The film is primarily in Norwegian with English subtitles, but there are large parts of it in English as well. As a World War Two historian, the film is extremely accurate in its depictions. The only bad thing about the mini-series is that for some reason the writers found it necessary to try and intertwine love stories and domestic squabbles within the story line. It does not detract from the story per se, but it is an annoyance none the less.  Overall, an excellent World War Two Mini-Series and definitely worth your time.

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Female Agents

Female Agents is a french film (Les Femmes De L’ombre) with English subtitles that chronicles the mission of an SOE all-woman task force sent into France to rescue a captured British agent who was sent into help prepare for the D-Day landings.  For those of you that share a fascination (like me) with the OSS and SOE’s operations during WW2, you will know that Women played a huge role. Movies like Carve her Name with Pride from 1958 and Charlotte Grey from 2001 with Cate Blanchett are great examples.

Overall a Good Movie on an Awesome subject. It is important that we remember that Women played a HUGE role in Intelligence and Sabotage Operation both in the SOE and OSS during WW2.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!