Looking for an American war movie to celebrate Memorial Day? Here’s some suggestions from the Pursuitist staff. We’ve tried to mix in some popular films with some lesser known, but still excellent, selections.
The Great Escape (1963)
An all-star cast, including Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn and David McCallum, plot to escape from a high security German prisoner of war camp. Funny, clever and suspenseful, the film made McQueen a superstar. His motorcycle escape will have your heart pumping.
Humphrey Bogart commands a tank and a ragtag group of soldiers as they struggle to survive in North Africa. The movie is crackling with good dialogue, a strong international cast and a great performance by Bogart.
Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his smoldering portrayal of a Union soldier in the first all-black volunteer company in the Civil War. Matthew Broderick is the company commander who must overcome his own fears and anxieties. Excellent supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher and Cary Elwes.
A Walk in the Sun (1945)
During the 1943 invasion of Italy, one American platoon makes its way inland to attempt to take a fortified farmhouse, as tension and casualties mount. A Walk in the Sun was an unusually realistic picture of war, with long quiet stretches of talk, punctuated by sharp, random bursts of violent action.
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Saving Private Ryan 1998
Stunning, shattering film from Stephen Speilberg. Tom Hanks stars in a film many call the greatest war movie ever. The Omaha Beach landing is one of cinema’s most intense scene’s ever made.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Ridley Scott’s powerful film depicts the real-life events of a desperate battle between a small group of elite U.S. soldiers and a large force of heavily-armed Somalis. The ensemble cast is top notch, and Scott keeps the story moving at a breathtaking pace.
Mister Roberts (1955)
Henry Fonda battles boredom and pettiness aboard a supply ship in the Pacific during WWII. Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for the film, but William Powell and James Cagney shine as well. Funny and moving.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.