Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Great Escape

With V-E Day earlier this month, I thought it would be interesting to share a relatively recent Time Out poll of the 50 best World War II movies, with guest contributor Quentin Tarantino.  The poll was timed with the release of Inglourious Basterds, which QT notes was loosely based on an earlier Italian production.  Both seemed to be inspired by The Dirty Dozen.

Quite a number of American films, but topping the list was a 1985 Belarus production, Come and See, which surprisingly Mr. Tarantino had no comment on, as I would think this surreal depiction of the ravages of the war in Russia would be right up his alley.  Of course, there are many notable omissions, as there usually are with such lists.  

The poll seems to favor action films over more cerebral ones, and surprisingly has very few Holocaust films.  I thought Agniezka Holland's Europa, Europa was excellent.  It was based on the true story of Solomon Perel.   Also not included are films that dealt with coming home after the war, like William Wyler's classic The Best Years of Our Lives.

But, there are some great films listed, like Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron, which Tarrantino claims to have seen as a kid.  Yea, right!  My personal favorite is The Great Escape, which I did see as a kid but not its original release.

It seems war movies are generally escapist movies, often romanticizing conflict, but at least The Great Escape had plenty of humor, notably Steve McQueen, "the cooler king," who failed repeatedly during the course of the film.


  1. Unless I missed them, these deserve a rating in that list:

    "Is Paris Burning?" [1966]

    "I Was Nineteen" [1968]

    and possibly,

    "The Devil's Brigade" [1968]

    There were a couple of movies that dealt with the post war era on that list but it did not include "The Third Man". Sorry to say that I hadn't heard of most of them and might give a few of them a look some day.

  2. Included on that list was the pre-war Leni Reifenstahl documentary. If that movie deserves some credit, then Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" does as well and surpasses just about all of them:


  3. Yep, lots of omissions. One of my personal favorites is Hiroshima, Mon Amour,