The Movieforums Top 100 War Movies Countdown

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As for Das Boot, I only saw it once, but it is unassailable. Etched in my brain. I wonder how close this would have been to the top of my list, and I think it would be pretty close...Deer Hunter, Come and See, Paths of Glory being the only ones that would have been shoo ins to come ahead of it



No Saving Private Ryan on my list. Like many of Spielberg's films, I find it needlessly undercut by a maudlin, saccharine sensibility. In the case of SPR, the present-day bookends ("Tell me I'm a good man..."). Anywho. I did have a movie that also includes the D-Day Invasion on my ballot...



Sam Fuller's The Big Red One (1980) is the last of my no-shows. It is the only narrative film recreating D-Day that was actually made by somebody who was there himself as a soldier. The Big Red One is a slightly fictionalized recounting of Fuller's own time as a grunt in WWII in the Army's 1st Infantry Division (nicknamed The Big Red One for the insignia on their uniforms).

For the uninitiated, the 2004 version labeled The Big Red One: The Reconstruction, is the version to see. Not only is it the best print but it includes a whopping forty-seven minutes of footage the Studio cut when they took it away from him in 1980, lovingly compiled seven years after Sam's death using his extensive notes. The narrative goes over the same campaigns the young Fuller endured from 1942-1944, including the invasion of Sicily, landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and liberation of the Falkenau concentration camp in the Czech Republic. Lee Marvin stars as the Sergeant who earned his stripes in WWI (a sequence that opens the film) and follows a squad that includes soldiers played by Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Perry Lang, and Kelley Ward. Carradine, who is most famous for starring in The Revenge of the Nerds, plays the Sam Fuller analog, a young, brash, cigar-chomping newspaper man.

It was made on a relatively large budget for Fuller at that late phase in his career, but still a small budget by mainstream Hollywood terms, and he uses every cinematic trick he knows to make it play like an epic (especially in the extended, restored version). A terrific capper to Fuller's arresting, eclectic career. One thing you can be sure you will never get in a Samuel Fuller flick is cheap sentimentality.

I had it twentieth on my ballot. That means my remaining seven choices are the top seven collective choices.

HOLDEN'S BALLOT
1. The Thin Red Line (#17)
4. Casablanca (#14)
7. Fires on the Plain (#59)
9. Army of Shadows (#29)
10. Waltz with Bashir (#45)
11. The Pianist (#23)
14. MASH (#39)
15. Rome, Open City (#37)
16. Letters from Iwo Jima (#60)
17. The Battle of Algiers (#24)
18. The Great Escape (#19)
19. The Ascent (#33)
20. The Big Red One (DNP)
21. The Killing Fields (#69)
22. Catch-22 (DNP)
23. Joyeux Nol (DNP)
24. Coming Home (DNP)
25. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (DNP)




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I have not seen Saving Private Ryan. Unlike Das Boot, I feel confident in thinking I would not like, and as such have no desire to see it (it's not just the saccharine sentimentality that I often have a problem with, but it does seem like the most overt symptom of what underlying problem I seem to have with his films). I did see that Amazing Stories episode as a child about the dead soldier who saved his platoon by running up and shooting a lot of Nazis or something. I was a child. That'll stand in for SPR, I guess.


I did watch one Samuel Fuller for this countdown, The Steel Helmet. It didn't make my ballot but it was a good watch. At some point during the summer when I didn't have time for more movies on my plate, I became aware that it was probably The Big Red One I should have watched (whoops).



Saving Private Ryan didn't make my list but came close. I seen it first run at the theater and then again a few months ago. The second time around I found the second half with hand to hand urban warfare to be some of the best staged and most realistic fighting I've seen....Of course I've never been in a war, but so many beloved war films (and westerns too) have the enemy standing like ducks in barrel so that the heroic American's can mow them down, but not in Saving Private Ryan, where the German soldiers fight just as hard and just as smart as the Americans.



I expected Saving Private Ryan to be higher. Anyways, yeah, it's a fine film, but I do think it climaxes after the opening scene and becomes somewhat been there, done it. It's a great gateway film into better films which I loved when I was in my teenage years, but I've moved on from it at this point. Still though, glad it made the list.



Saving Private Ryan is not on my list. The only notable thing in that movie is the D-Day scene. I do remember the sniper, not the scenes with the sniper, but that there was a character who was a sniper. Like Hacksaw Ridge, it was kind of overly sentimental.



I did watch one Samuel Fuller for this countdown, The Steel Helmet. It didn't make my ballot but it was a good watch. At some point during the summer when I didn't have time for more movies on my plate, I became aware that it was probably The Big Red One I should have watched (whoops).
The Steel Helmet is a darn good movie, probably the best of the War flicks from the first part of his career, and a perfect example of his terse, lean, tough style. And talk about a small budget, he was working on a shoestring for Steel Helmet which also makes it a perfect example of how he could make such striking, memorable images with meager resources.

The Big Red One is certainly Sam's magnum opus.

It's a shame no Samuel Fuller films made our list, and is definitely a blind-spot if you compare this list to one made by critics or a film society or magazine. Oh, well. Maybe when we reboot it in fifteen years? War Films Redux.




Like others I feel that the opening to Saving Private Ryan is unbelievable and an amazing technical and directorial achievement but the film doesn't really hold up for me after that. I still think it's a good film but I don't believe it was robbed by Shakespeare in Love at the Oscars...The Thin Red Line was!
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After some hesitations, I've finally decided to include Saving Private Ryan (1998) at #21 on my ballot.

Saw it in the theatre when it came out and couple more times on the telly in the following years.
I take it as an adventure movie. Spielberg is very good at this entertainment.
I mostly think... what about these Cathedrals that were demolished in every sense...


80/100

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My Ballot

1. Empire of the Sun (1987) [#40]
2.
3. The Pianist (2002) [#23]
4.
5. Underground (1995) [#43]
6. The Deer Hunter (1978) [#25]
7.
8. Ivan's Childhood (1962) [#56]
9. Platoon (1986) [#16]
10. The Great Dictator (1940) [#22]
11. The Thin Red Line (1998) [#17]
...
13. Ice Cold In Alex (1958) [#119]
14. Enemy at the Gates (2001) [#88]
15. The Hill (1965) [#94]
...
18. The Hurt Locker (2008) [#58]
...
21. Saving Private Ryan (1998) [#8]
22. Catch-22 (1970) [#116]
...



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SPR was my #2! It’s the first movie that comes to mind when I think of a war movie. Just some truly harrowing shit.



Actor Stats




4
Tatsuya Nakadai

3
Nick Nolte, Burt Lancaster, Donald Sutherland, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, Ludmila Savelyeva, Sergey Bondarchuk, Michiyo Aratama, Yūsuke Kawazu

2
Humphrey Bogart, Liam Neeson, Tom Sizemore, Teresa Wright, Charles Bronson, Forest Whitaker, Adrien Brody, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, Robert Ryan, Deborah Kerr, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Montgomery Clift, Roger Livesey, James D'Arcy, Ben Stiller, John Malkovich, David Niven, Tom Hardy, Gregory Peck, Jason Robards, Shōji Yasui, Orlando Bloom



Haven't seen Downfall.

Wasn't a big fan of Grave of the Fireflies which was a shock so I should probably give it another go sometime.

Not a fan of Schindler's List but I haven't seen it in probably about ten years now.

Haven't seen Milestone's All Quite on the Western Front.

I think that Das Boot is very good, possibly great. Would have just missed out on my list.

Don't like Saving Private Ryan.

The good news is that I've seen the remaining six seven films that are going to show up and I like them all
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I start revealing my ballot step by step too...

My #25. The Book Thief (2013)
Starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson

Came across this film when it was released, driven mostly by Geoffrey Rush name, in addition it received some minor nomination during the award season.
Well filmed. I've especially liked the different perspective towards WWII events. I don't know if this is first of its kind. That brings some hope...
I'd put it higher on the ballot, just didn't believe someone else knows it. Since it didn't show in the one-pointers, it seems that someone else gave some love to it too.


80/100



Saw Private Ryan when it came out. The beginning was intense as all hell but from there it bored the crap out of me. Only saw it that one time though.



I have not seen Saving Private Ryan. Unlike Das Boot, I feel confident in thinking I would not like, and as such have no desire to see it (it's not just the saccharine sentimentality that I often have a problem with, but it does seem like the most overt symptom of what underlying problem I seem to have with his films). I did see that Amazing Stories episode as a child about the dead soldier who saved his platoon by running up and shooting a lot of Nazis or something. I was a child. That'll stand in for SPR, I guess.


I did watch one Samuel Fuller for this countdown, The Steel Helmet. It didn't make my ballot but it was a good watch. At some point during the summer when I didn't have time for more movies on my plate, I became aware that it was probably The Big Red One I should have watched (whoops).

His Fixed Bayonets is also good and frequently overlooked.



Saving Private Ryan was my #4. It's an excellent, masterfully directed, powerful film with great performances.

Seen: 69/93



Saving Private Ryan was my #3. Other than the powerful opening scene or the mission to save Ryan, I really love the micro-stories that Spielberg peppers all through the different characters. From Miller's backstory to Wade's childhood memories, Upham's arc; every character feels real and alive. Beyond that, it's just masterful direction. Love it, and I'm genuinely surprised that it didn't even make the Top 5.



Seen: 45/93
Ballot: 15/25

My ballot:  
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