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Collection of nine classic war films.
In 'Twelve O'Clock High' (1949), Colonel Keith Davenport (Gary Merrill) is more of a friend than a commander to his men, a US bomber crew stationed in wartime Britain. After a series of dangerous missions, the pilots are living on their nerves and when Davenport is replaced by the callous General Savage (Gregory Peck), the latter's attempts to whip the crew into shape result in a deluge of requests for transfers. However, young Lieutenant Bishop (Robert Patten) rallies his fellow pilots, and soon they and Savage begin to develop a mutual respect.
In 'The Longest Day' (1962), an all-star international cast re-tells the events of the Allied Landings in Normandy in 1944. Events are seen from various points of view, including the Germans', in an epic and spectacular style. Along with the 43 international stars, the film used 23,000 Allied troops and despite costing over $10 million to make, it has now become one of the most successful films of its genre. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Henry Fonda head the cast.
In 'The Great Escape' (1963), during World War II, a collection of hardened Allied prisoners are kept in an 'escape-proof' German camp. Led by the 'Big X' (Richard Attenborough), the men formulate a plan for a mass breakout, digging three tunnels - Tom, Dick and Harry. The team behind the escape includes a near-blind forger of passports (Donald Pleasance), a claustrophobic tunnel-digger (Charles Bronson) and the independent American 'Cooler King' (Steve McQueen). With men like that on their side, how can they fail?
In 'Von Ryan's Express' (1965), when US pilot Colonel Joseph Ryan (Frank Sinatra) is shot down and placed in a German POW camp, he is more concerned with his own survival than escape. The top-ranking officer in the camp, he is initially reviled by his fellow British and American prisoners, who nickname him 'Von Ryan'. However, Ryan eventually comes to lead them in a daring escape attempt, taking over from the commanding British officer (Trevor Howard) and the escapees face many hazards as they commandeer a train to make their way across Italy, closely followed by the Nazis.
In 'The Sand Pebbles' (1966), in China, 1926, the US gunboat San Pablo cruises the Yangtze river on a peacekeeping mission. New crew member Jake Holman (McQueen) causes friction when he insists upon looking after the San Pablo's engines himself, rather than leaving the hard labour to the Chinese helpers. Holman ruffles more feathers when he falls in love with an American missionary (Candice Bergen), and as the political climate becomes more and more volatile, he begins to question the validity of the American presence on the river.
In 'Patton' (1970), the life and times of America's most famous modern general, George Patton (George C. Scott), are recreated in a screen biography which focuses on Patton's controversial exploits during the Second World War, where he eventually gave up command of the Seventh Army after slapping a soldier and accusing him of being a coward. Patton was highly successful in his campaigns over North Africa, Sicily and parts of Europe.
'Battle of Britain' (1969) is Guy Hamilton's classic war film which looks at how England defended itself from the German aerial onslaught of the summer of 1940. Laurence Olivier plays Sir Hugh Dowding, the Air Chief Marshal whose fleet outmanoeuvres the Luftwaffe, despite a numerical disadvantage; and those few to whom so many owed so much are portrayed by an all-star cast including Michael Caine, Kenneth More and Ralph Richardson.
'Tora! Tora! Tora!' (1970) covers Japan's 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. Told from the perspective of both the Japanese and the Americans, it draws upon the talents of four different directors - including Richard Fleischer ('The Boston Strangler') and Kinji Fukasuki ('Battle Royale') - and at a cost of 25 million dollars, was one of the most expensive movies ever made. The film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Finally, 'A Bridge Too Far' (1977) is Richard Attenborough's star-studded account of the failed 1944 Arnheim assault. Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Robert Redford and Sean Connery are among those battling against insurmountable odds - foul weather, bad luck, negligence on the part of intelligence officers - to secure one of the bridges essential to the Allied advance into Germany.
Sound: Dolby Digital
Running Time: 1342 minutes
Main Language: English
If you like war films, look no further. Some of the best.