5 CLASSIC WAR FILMS REVIEWED
“5 Classic War Films” is a collection of Columbia Pictures’ flicks that either on MOD or Out of Print. The people assembling these compilations know their work, but it leaves a film fan to wonder. Why is there no push to get Blu-Ray releases for these titles? I get that Criterion and other outlets might be looking at Blu-Rays for these releases, but let’s get on it! It has been ages since I sat down to watch “Young Winston”, but it bares my same experience across the other films.
These are films that have missed a generation due to their nature and careful examination of War. None of these works are traditional Gung-Ho fare. They are steady examinations of what makes humanity matter in times of dire warfare. Plus, there’s gunfights and explosions. Take what you can get.
- 1.78:1 standard definition transfer
- Dolby Digital 2.0
RELEASE DATE: 6/7/16
The Plot Thus Far
(1972) – Color – PG
Simon Ward, Robert Shaw, Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins
Richard Attenborough’s examination of the early life of Winston Churchill – up until his early days at Parliament, before his marriage – is a fascinating look at the formative years of one of the greatest politicians and most influential world leaders in recent history. Played by Simon Ward (All Creatures Great and Small and TV’s The Tudors), young Churchill is ambitious and over-eager, with a tendency toward boastful over-exaggeration and opportunism, all of which served him well in overturning the low expectations of his father. The film flashes back through three main periods of Churchill’s life narrated by the older, knowing Churchill (well-voiced by Ward, based on Churchill’s own autobiography). In boyhood and adolescence, Churchill’s self-consumed parents, Lord Randolph (Robert Shaw, A Man for All Seasons) and American-born Lady Jennie (Anne Bancroft, The Graduate), are too busy with their own lives in Parliament and social engagements to see him off to boarding school, a task fulfilled by a beloved nanny. The adventure of Churchill’s years as a war correspondent and soldier is enthusiastically depicted. Anthony Hopkins, John Mills, Jack Hawkins, Patrick Magee and Ian Holm also appear in supporting roles.
(1955) – B&W – Not Rated
Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
Two Legendary Actors at the height of their careers face off in a film so controversial that both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals banned it. Following World War II, a strong-willed cardinal (Academy Award winner Alec Guinness, 1957 Best Actor, The Bridge Over the River Kwai) is arrested as a traitor to the state. His will is strong, but so is that of his inquisitor (Jack Hawkins), a seemingly benevolent man who uses oily charm to lure the cardinal into speaking freely. The interrogator eventually resorts to false evidence, dirty tricks and cruelty. Months pass, and the cardinal’s spirit seem impossible to break. As the interviews become increasingly hostile, the captors turn to the last bastion of the immorally powerful: . Eventually the cardinal is exploited and destroyed. A tale for all times, all beliefs, and once witnessed, impossible to forget. The Prisoner is a bold example of corruption, power and faith.
Commandos Strike at Dawn
(1943) – B&W – Not Rated
Paul Muni, Lillian Gish, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Anna Lee
Oscar-winner Paul Muni (1936 Best Actor, The Story of Louis Pasteur) gives a dynamic performance in this dramatic World War II story that also stars Academy Award-winner Lillian Gish (1971 Honorary Award), Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Anna Lee. Muni plays Erik Toresen, a simple Norwegian fisherman who finds his quiet coastal village shattered by the Nazi invasion. Untrained in the ways of war, the villagers use only their cold, sullen hatred as defense. But when an elder member of the community is maimed and d, Muni mobilizes the villagers and trains them to fight. Eventually discovered by the Germans, Muni and four others escape to England to lead British troops against the Germans, who intend to attack the Arctic supply lines.
(1969) – Color – R
Burt Lancaster, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Peter Falk, Scott Wilson
Near the end of World War II, American Major Falconer (Lancaster, Academy Award®-winner Best Actor Elmer Gantry, 1960) leads his weary eight-man squadron to a perfectly preserved medieval castle in the Adrennes Forest. CASTLE KEEP’s owner, the aging Count of Maldorais (Jean-Pierre Aumont), shelters the servicemen in hopes they will defend his fortress and his priceless collection of art masterpieces from the advancing German troops. But the servicemen have plans of their own. Major Falconer begins an illicit affair with the Count’s beautiful young wife, while Sgt. Rossi (Falk) romances the wife of an absent baker. As the German soldiers push forward, a deadly game of possession ensues, leading to a spectacular ground battle for keeper of the castle. Shaded with off-beat comic moments – a soldier (In Cold Blood’s Scott Wilson) falls in love with a battered Volkswagen and a religious fanatic (Bruce Dern) leads his shell-shocked troops through the bombed-out streets – CASTLE KEEP features a top-notch cast hailed as “excellent” by Vincent Canby, The New York Times.
(1957) – B&W – Not Rated
Richard Burton, Curt Jurgens, Ruth Roman
A Word War II drama starring Richard Burton (Academy Award nominee for Best Actor, Equus 1977 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, 1966) and Curt Jurgens (The Spy Who Love Me) as Captain Leith and Major Brand, a pair of British Army officers assigned to execute a daring commando raid on the Libyan stronghold of General Rommel. Even before the mission begins, the tension between the two is evident. This is further exacerbated when Brand learns that Leith and his wife (Ruth Roman, TV’s Knotts Landing), were once romantically involved. Once the operations is underway, Leith must save the day when Brand’s cowardice is revealed, thus putting the mission and the lives of the men in jeopardy. As they struggle through the wastes of the Sahara we learn who will live, who will die and what is the price of glory.