Archive for: WWII

Nazi Spies from the Archives


Fox is digging deep into their vaults with the Cinema Archives series, reissuing titles that either haven’t been widely seen in years. There are quite a few espionage and war movies in the catalog and two World War II-era titles, 5 Fingers and Margin for Error have just been released on DVD. +Continue Reading

War Movies & The Oscar


By Brig. Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, Jr., USA-Ret., Executive Director, The Army Historical Foundation

Rick Atkinson, the brilliant Pulitzer-winning author of The Liberation Trilogy on the U.S. Army in World War II, says that war reveals character.  And revealing character is what most movies are all about, so it should come as no surprise that there have been a lot of war movies made over the years.

What astounds me, however, is finding out that 23 movies about war or which use war as an important backdrop have won the best picture Oscar, and that doesn’t count all the other very good war movies that were nominated or won the Oscar for best director, actor, cinematography, writing, etc. Here are those 23:

Saving Private Ryan (WWII), Patton (WWII), The Deer Hunter (Vietnam), Platoon (Vietnam), Mrs. Miniver (British family survives bombings  and other exigencies), Lawrence of Arabia (WWI), Casablanca (1942—WWII is backdrop), The Best Years of Our Lives (WWII returning veterans), All Quiet On the Western Front (WWI), Wings (WW I), Gone With the Wind (Civil War), From Here to Eternity (WWII), The Bridge On the River Kwai (WWII), Ben-Hur (sea battle is key plot element; primary antagonist, Messala, is a Roman Tribune/Commander), Dances With Wolves (Civil War and Indian Wars), Schindler’s List (WWII as backdrop to the Holocaust—Schindler is war profiteer who has a conscience), Forest Gump (Vietnam), The Last Emperor (WWII, Chinese Civil War), Braveheart (Scottish War of Independence), The English Patient (WWII), Gladiator (opens with huge battle scene, the gladiator is also a Roman General), The Hurt Locker (Iraq, an explosive ordnance disposal unit) and The King’s Speech (World War II is key plot element).

Despite the greatness of those 23 winners, my Top Ten list includes some others as well as a few of the above, so here goes (in no particular order): +Continue Reading

‘Stalingrad’ Just Wants Some Respect for Russia


Stalingrad is the highest grossing movie in Russian history and its Doctor-Zhivago–meets–Call-of-Duty 3D sensibility arrives in U.S. IMAX theaters this weekend. +Continue Reading

A First Look at ‘Unbroken’


Louie Zamperini competed for the USA in the 1936 Olympics and later served as an Air Force Lieutenant during World War II. After his plane was shot down over the Pacific, Zamperini survived 47 days at sea before spending three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. His incredible story was chronicled in Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken and that book is now the basis for a new movie directed by Angelia Jolie and written by Joel and Ethan Coen. +Continue Reading

Facts Vs. Truth in ‘The Monuments Men’

George Clooney;Matt Damon;John Goodman;Bob Balaban

The Monuments Men is unapologetically based on a true story. It takes incidents from the experiences of the real-life men who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section during World War II and uses them to craft a story that makes a broad point about the importance of protecting culture during wartime.

All the characters in the movie have definite connections to real people, but director George Clooney (and his co-writer/co-producer Grant Heslov) have changed enough details and shuffled the chronology enough that they’ve given everyone a new name so there’s no confusion about the movie’s intentions. +Continue Reading

Talking With Bob Balaban from ‘The Monuments Men’

Bill Murray;Bob Balaban

The chemistry between actors Bob Balaban and Bill Murray provides some of the nicest comic moments in director George Clooney’s The Monuments Men.  Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov have made a movie that’s serious about the subject of protecting the arts and culture during wartime, but they’ve wrapped the whole thing in an old-school Big Hollywood picture that aims to entertain. Think Oceans 14 with Nazis as the enemy instead of casino owners.

All of the characters in the movie are loosely based on the real individuals whose stories appear in Robert Edsel’s The Monuments Men book. Balaban’s Preston Savitz character is inspired by Lincoln Kirstein, a New York cultural legend who founded the New York City Ballet after his World War II service. Balaban’s had a long career in movies, starting with Catch 22  and continuing through the Christopher Guest improv comedies (including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind), Gosford Park, Ghost World and, recently, Moonrise Kingdom. He also had a recurring role on Seinfeld+Continue Reading

The Man Behind ‘The Monuments Men’


For the last decade, author Robert Edsel has been on a mission to educate the world about the Monuments Men and their efforts to preserve European culture in the final days of World War II. Edesl’s books are the basis for The Monuments Men, a new movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett (and directed by Clooney).

Edsel learned about the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program while living in Florence, Italy after selling his oil and gas exploration company. He was amazed that he’d never heard about the efforts of the Monuments Men and decided he wanted to share what he’d learned with the world. +Continue Reading

A First Look at ‘Monuments Men’


The Monuments Men, the George Clooney-directed movie based on Robert Edsel’s book about the men tasked with saving monuments and recovering art during and after the World War II Allied invasion of mainland Europe, opens in theaters on February 7th.

The picture stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett playing characters based on the real-life people who worked in the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives) group. They play middle-aged, (mostly) out-of-shape museum directors, artists, curators and art historians recruited in an attempt to preserve Europe’s cultural legacy in the face of war.

+Continue Reading

Fake Outrage & the Greatest Generation


Comedian Natasha Leggero got slammed for an “insensitive” joke she made about WWII vets during the live telecast of NBC’s New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly. Instead of throwing herself on the mercy of the Internet and issuing an overwrought “apology to anyone I’ve offended,” she hit back, proclaiming “I’m not sorry” and challenging her critics to do something about the real issues that veterans face.

Let’s go to the videotape: +Continue Reading

A Gold Medal for the Monuments Men

  • December 6, 2013
  • Movies
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George Clooney;Matt Damon;John Goodman;Bob Balaban

Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas has introduced bipartisan legislation that would honor the “Monuments Men” of World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal.

After President Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved the idea of cultural preservation officers in 1943, the Monuments Men (and women) helped locate famous works of art confiscated by the Nazis, and return them to their rightful owners.

+Continue Reading