OT: Happy Memorial Day/Favorite War Movie Thread

Submitted by MaizeMN on May 30th, 2016 at 8:57 AM
Happy Memorial Day to my fellow MGoBlog brethren. Thank you to those who have served and to those that continue to do so. While celebrating today, I will also try to remain mindful of the sacrifice that so many have made to make these celebrations possible. On a lighter note, I'm a war flick aficionado, so will have myriad programming choices today. For those of you who also enjoy the genre, what is your all-time favorite war movie? Most underrated? Overrated? My favorites: Patton. Inglorious Bastards keeps moving up on that list. The Outlaw Jose Wales is underrated. And while I generally like Tom Cruise's films, I thought Valkyrie didn't live up to its hype.



May 30th, 2016 at 11:56 AM ^

Just watched that again last month. Fantastic work, honored the men who served but didn't gloss over their flaws, and didn't sugar-coat the gore and destruction.

And I always get a kick out of the fact that the actor who did some a great job playing Eugene Sledge was the little kid from the first "Jurassic Park" movie.


May 30th, 2016 at 12:34 PM ^

Patton was seriously overrated as a commander(as were most US generals of that time period).

German view of Patton: http://www.historynet.com/patton-the-german-view.htm

The glory--if that is the right word--belongs solely to the officers and enlisted men wno fought th at war.  The US did not "win" the war by brilliant generalship, but with immense numerical advantages in raw material, weapons, and supplies and the raw courage and tenacity of the soldier, sailor, airman, and marine.


May 30th, 2016 at 8:53 PM ^

I agree with your statement about the

immense numerical advantages in raw material, weapons, and supplies and the raw courage and tenacity of the soldier, sailor, airman, and marine.

Of course, legends grow over time, but Patton's performance should be judged in relation to his peers. Of the northern (Montgomery) and Southern (Patton) flanks, I'd think it's fair to say the Southern performed better while being supplied as the lower-priority.

From page 4 of your link http://www.historynet.com/patton-the-german-view.htm/4

Patton, for his part, fully intended to make an unrelenting push to the Rhine after Normandy. He succeeded for a short time, brazenly gambling that the speed of his advance and Allied air superiority would keep the Germans too off balance to attack his unprotected flank. But Third Army’s advance was soon slowed by gasoline and ammunition shortages as Third Army reached the bank of the Moselle River, giving the Germans time to organize their defenses. Patton finally began receiving adequate supplies on September 4, after a week’s excruciating pause, and Third Army established a bridgehead across the Moselle on September 29—before halting again to wait for supplies. The fortress city of Metz did not fall until December 13, holding up Third Army long enough for the Germans to make an organized withdrawal behind the Saar River, setting the stage for the Battle of the Bulge.

The Germans, unaware of the Allies’ supply issues, credited their counterattacks throughout the withdrawal for Third Army’s seemingly hesitant advance. Lieutenant General Hermann Balck, who took command of Army Group G in September, thus did not think highly of Patton—or any other opposing commanders—during this time.

Meanwhile, Montgomery was pushing for the priority of Operation Market Garden in the north.  http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_arnhem.html

In mid-August, Montgomery first raised the idea of changing Allied strategy to encompass a single thrust by his 21st Army Group, supported by the US First Army under Major General Courtney Hodges, through northern France, the Low Countries and into Germany. Montgomery's point was that there was not enough transport available at the moment to supply all three Army Groups going at full speed across a broad front. ...

The plan was firmly opposed by Bradley who believed that the Allies had won the Battle of Normandy in spite of Montgomery, as opposed to because of him. Now that final victory was in site, it was time for the Americans to take the lead. Also, such a plan would mean halting the American forces that had advanced the farthest from the Normandy beachhead - the US Third Army under Lieutenant General George S Patton Jr., Montgomery's old rival. Montgomery however, eventually persuaded Eisenhower that the 21st Army Group's thrust should have priority in supplies and that Bradley's US First Army, which would advance north of Aachen, should support it. In a letter to General George C Marshall, Eisenhower admitted to changing his "basic plan of attacking both north and east in order to help Montgomery seize tremendously important objectives in the northeast."

The plan consisted of

The overall Market Garden plan called for the First Allied Airborne Army to assist the rapid advance of the British Second Army from the Meuse - Escaut Canal to Nunspeet on the Zuider Zee (Ijsselmeer), a distance of around 100 miles (160km) and who would then turn east into Germany towards the industrial heartland of the Ruhr. A "carpet of airborne troops" would capture the road bridges over the major rivers and canals that lay along the route in three places: Eindhoven (around 13 miles / 20km from the start line), Nijmegen (53 miles / 85km) and Arnhem (64 miles / 100km), as well as a couple of smaller bridges at Veghel and Grave that lay between Eindhoven and Nijmegen. The route that XXX Corps (under Lt General B G Horrocks) would take (the formation that would head the British Second Army advance - the Garden part of the operation) was a tree-lined double-track road that ran across country that was almost entirely flat, consisted of sandy soil and polder (drained bogland) and broken by orchards, small woods, streams and ditches. All of this would make cross-country movement difficult and time-consuming.


For the airborne (Market) operation, as far as possible USAAF aircraft would fly the paratroopers while RAF aircraft would tow the gliders, for simplicity.The first wave of each division would land as a formed body around six miles (ten kilometres) from their objectives and then advance to capture them. The three divisions would have finished landing by the end of day three and each holding an all-round perimeter of over 25 miles (forty kilometres) allowing the ground forces to advance over them. Such timescales and distances only really made sense if there were an indication the Germans would put up little, if any, resistance.

Unfortunately, the assessment was not realistic and important intelligence regarding the presence of German tanks was ignored.

As Major Brian Urquhart, Chief of Intelligence British I Airborne Corps commented, "I simply did not believe that the Germans were going to roll over and surrender." There was poor coordination between SHAEF, 21st Army Group and the First Allied Airborne Army, which meant that although the overall estimated strength of the German forces was reasonably accurate, Allied intelligence lost the II SS Panzer Corps as it approached the Arnhem area. Most assumed that they had moved east, rather than stay in the general vicinity of Arnhem. Reports by the Dutch resistance and last minute aerial reconnaissance photographs indicated the presence of an armoured formation, as Major Brian Urquhart commented - "There, in the photos, I could clearly see tanks - if not on the very Arnhem landing and drop zones, then certainly close to them." These reports were however, dismissed all along the chain of command with the result being "the evaluation of intelligence on the Panzers in the Arnhem area was magnificently bungled." Major Urquhart was then visited by the Corps Medical Officer who suggested he take some sick leave.

In a nutshell, the result was that the land Garden forces could not advance anywhere near the planned timetable, and the glider-dropped Market forces could not hold on indefinitely.

Operation 'Berlin' (the evacuation of the Market forces) began that evening (Sept 25) with a sustained bombardment from 43rd (Wessex) Division and XXX Corps artillery while British and Canadian Engineers crossed the Lower Rhine to start ferrying the survivors of 1st Airborne back across the river. The wounded were left with a number of volunteers and the British retreated through a gap barely 700m wide. The evacuation proceeded until first light. The survivors of the division marched from Driel to Nijmegen where the seaborne tail of the division was waiting with clean uniforms and equipment. The Germans had occupied the pocket by 14.00 the next day and taken prisoner the troops who could not be moved. With the end of the evacuation, Operation Market Garden also ended.

Montgomery had the gall to deem the operation a 90% success, which was met with derision.

Montgomery estimated that the operation was ninety per cent successful but the failure to take the final objective, that of Arnhem Bridge, had nullified the whole thing. "My country can never again afford the luxury of another Montgomery success". (Bernhard, Prince of the Netherlands) "In return for so much courage and sacrifice, the Allies had won a 50-mile salient - leading nowhere." (Dr John C Warren)

In comparison, I'd say Patton looks pretty good. From your link again http://www.historynet.com/patton-the-german-view.htm/4

On December 16, 1944, Germany launched one of its last massive attempts to reclaim the destiny of the Third Reich. In the same blitzkrieg style that had served so well in France in 1940, the Germans pushed into the heavily forested and mountainous Ardennes region of Belgium, creating the bulge in the front for which the resulting battle would be named. ...


Patton, in the meantime, had anticipated a German offensive and was prepared to wield his armored forces with the speed and relentlessness he longed for. In just four days, three of his Third Army divisions turned their advance 90 degrees and trekked over 100 miles through ice, snow, and fog—an extraordinary feat for heavy vehicles and exhausted men. Patton’s spearheads arrived at Bastogne on December 26, driving into the flank of the German offensive and reaching the city’s beleaguered defenders. But a lack of cold weather gear and one of the region’s harshest winters hampered subsequent Allied efforts. The German hold on Bastogne finally broke on January 9, 1945; even then, the Germans were not pushed back to their former line until January 30.

Patton’s finest moment was thus lost on the Germans, as the long struggle to reclaim Bastogne overshadowed his lightning-quick arrival.


May 30th, 2016 at 12:08 PM ^

The critics disagree.  Saving Private Ryan received excellent reviews.  If the opening scene on the beach didn't give you a sense of the particular hell landing on Normandy beach represented, I don't know what would.  There were several scenes in that movie that I found incredibly powerful, powerful enough that I never wanted to watch the movie again. 

God bless all who serve and have served.  Thank you for your courage and your sacrifice.


May 31st, 2016 at 12:08 AM ^

The Normandy landing was so violent and bloody several older couples sitting ahead of me could not take it left early in the movie. I thought it was a good movie with a predictable plot. I think it captured the real like experience of the true landing. I'm sure it was the closes thing to hell on earth. Glad our boys fought hard to secure a beach head. There was chance that D-Day was not going to end well but those brave guys!


May 31st, 2016 at 6:05 AM ^

As with so many films, the book is better. Samuel Fuller goes into much greater detail and has much better stories on the pages than he does on the screen.

One of my favories (not in the movie) is when the men get to see a USO show. Anna Lee, the gorgeous English actress who had parts in several noteworthy films and ended her career on "General Hospital" as Lila Quartermaine, was the mistress of ceremonies. In front of her audience, who hadn't seen a woman like her in many months, she confessed that she didn't know what to do on stage. "I don't sing, and I don't dance," she said.

From the crowd, a soldier yelled, "Just stand there!"

The scene actually happened, and years later, when Fuller was a filmmaker, he met Lee and recounted the story. She remembered it well, and the two became good friends.


May 30th, 2016 at 4:57 PM ^

and thought it was riveting, though I thought it underplayed the true story on which it is based. The village's defense of the US soldier should have been a much bigger proportion of the film as opposed to just a few minutes at the end. 


May 30th, 2016 at 11:19 AM ^

I liked the movie; I loved the book.

If you've not read the book, I highly recommend it.  It provides a more complete picture of the interwoven events of that day.


May 30th, 2016 at 12:23 PM ^

I am fascinated by everything Normandy.   The people, the culture, the calvados, the French country cuisine, the waterfowl hunting.  It pulls at my heartstrings.  

Naturally, I sponge up anything D-Day related. 


May 30th, 2016 at 9:17 AM ^

and I could watch Patton over and over. Almost forgot, We Were Soldiers is great, imo, as well. Details very near spot on. I found too many liberties taken with most movies of that particular war and tend to lean toward WWII movies,  both for importance and simply reminds me of a much better time in America, after they returned home to a homecoming they deserved and being treated like the heroes they were, of course.

Damn, almost forgot Tora Tora Tora or Pearl Harbor, basically the same story, shot a couple decades apart.  Windtalkers, Thin Red Line, The Desert Fox, too damn many but all deserving of being made.

The Mad Hatter

May 30th, 2016 at 9:38 AM ^

Is an excellent movie. It shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as the Ben Affleck "Pearl Harbor" movie.

Also, The Gathering Storm is good too. It's an HBO movie about Winston Churchill in the pre-war years. Really well done.

CSB time. I went to a midnight showing of Saving Private Ryan the day it came out. The theater was full of old men, many of them wearing their 50 year old uniforms and medals. It was incredible being in the presence of so many heroes. Those men really did save the world.