By: James Favata
Veteran’s Day is coming up tomorrow, and I know we’ll all take the time to honor the brave men and women who served our country with such courage.
If you are a veteran, everyone here at America Uncensored thanks you for your service.
Each year on Veteran’s Day, the cable television channels are flooded with war movies celebrating our soldiers. But let’s face it – some are much better than others.
American Uncensored asked me to rate my top-five war movies of all time. Here’s my list – what would you include on yours?
#5: World War II in Color
This is actually a documentary produced for the History Channel. But it’s powerful – they should be showing this in American high schools.
The rare video footage, converted to color, tells the story of the war through the letters and memoirs of people who lived through it.
From its coverage of the D-Day invasion to the Battle of Iwo Jima, this is possibly the best documentary ever made on World War II (a companion documentary, Vietnam in HD, is definitely worth watching, too).
#4: Full Metal Jacket
A list of war movies would not be complete without Full Metal Jacket. This 1987 movie brings us inside Marine Corps basic training at Parris Island, SC as soldiers get ready to fight in Vietnam. Marines I’ve met over the years rave about Full Metal Jacket.
It introduces us to the mental stress, lack of sleep, and deep bonds that characterize basic training. R. Lee Ermey did an outstanding job portraying what a drill instructor truly is like (I’ve met a few like him). This movie also gave us the memorable phrase, “This is my rifle, this is my gun.”
#3: The Dirty Dozen
Lee Marvin… Telly Savales… Jim Brown… Charles Bronson. What a cast – and what a movie! The Dirty Dozen, released in 1967, tells the story of a group of misfits enlisted to pull off a suicide mission during World War II.
What’s fascinating about the movie is that it’s actually based on a rag-tag World War II demolitions squad known as the “Filthy Thirteen.” The Dirty Dozen features superb acting by one of the great all-star casts ever assembled. That Lee Marvin was one cool customer – and he was actually a World War II Marine who received a Purple Heart.
#2: Saving Private Ryan
This 1998 film may not be the oldest… nor always the most accurate… movie on the list. But the opening 20 minutes, depicting the brutal Normandy invasion, will take your breath away.
When I watched Saving Private Ryan in a theater, you could have heard a pin drop. The crowd was literally stunned by the realistic depiction of war. Steven Spielberg took home a Best Director Oscar for the movie, and it was well earned.
You probably say this one coming, right? George C. Scott’s opening speech in Patton, which was released in 1970, is one of the greatest movie scenes ever.
If you need a shot of adrenaline, you can watch it here.
This movie covers the exceptional and controversial life of General George S. Patton, from his North Africa Campaign to his exclusion from the D-Day invasion. Patton won seven Academy Awards.
My list is admittedly heavy on World War II flicks – although Hollywood has focused on this war more than any other. Still, there are other movies like MASH (1970) and Platoon (1986) that are well worth seeing.
Apocalypse Now is another personal favorite, although the plot is a little fat-fetched at times.
These are my five favorites – what would you put on your list?
James Favata is an Air Force veteran and freelance writer based in Virginia. He covers military issues for America Uncensored.