Thursday Movie Picks: World War II

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is World War II. A few weeks ago we had WWI, and unlike that one where I struggled to find picks, I'm struggling to narrow them down here. There's so many WWII movies. They almost seem repetitive at this point, but that many films also means there's quite a few great ones. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and Pearl Harbor this week. Here's three of my favorites.

1) Au Revoir Les Enfants

I just watched this back in April for the Bling Spot Series and it's been my favorite of the year so far. The story is about a French Catholic boarding school where one boy discovers the new student is a Jew being hidden from the Nazi's. It's an amazing movie. 

2) Life is Beautiful

I'll always appreciate this film, about an Italian family sent to concentration camps for the fact that it actually managed to show something lighthearted in such a dark time. It still had very depressing moments, but the tone is much more upbeat than what we're used to.

3) Inglorious Basterds

Sure, Quentin Tarantino retconned Hitler's demise (in the most awesome way possible) but I love this movie about a group of Americans getting dropped into France to kill Hitler, and a French woman who is plotting revenge of her own after Nazis kill her family.

24 comments:

  1. Terrific picks. Au Revoir Les Enfants is so beautifully done and deeply moving, I was reluctant to watch it at first-it seemed downbeat and being in a foreign language gave me pause but it really pulled me in.

    Life is Beautiful is another one I wasn't sure about but then it started getting such incredible press that I decided to check it out and I was glad I did. Roberto Benigni annoys me no end everywhere else but he was very effective in this film.

    I can't say I love Inglorious Basterds but I like it far more than any other Tarantino movie I've ever seen. I tend to hate his stuff.

    This week was much easier than the WWI theme WWII providing many more choices. I chose to stay off the battlefield focusing on films that looked at people on the periphery of the conflict, affected by it but not directly involved in the fighting.

    To Be or Not to Be (1942)/To Be or Not to Be (1983)-As Hitler rises to power annexing portions of Europe life continues as usual at the Warsaw theatre owned by bickering married couple of renown, Joseph Tura/Fredrick Bronski (Jack Benny/Mel Brooks) “World famous in Poland!” and Maria Tura/Anna Bronski (Carole Lombard/Anne Bancroft). When the wife becomes enamored of a young flyer Lt. Sobinski (Robert Stack/Tim Matheson) they rendezvous while her hambone of a husband takes forever to get through Shakespeare’s soliloquy of the title. Suddenly Poland is attacked and the couple and their troupe of performers find themselves involved in the serious business of espionage to aid the war effort. The films, very similar in layout and execution, provide an interesting contrast in the way comedy about a serious situation can be played, the subtle almost gallows humor of Lubitsch and the broader stroke of Brooks. Both are successful though Lubitsch’s viewpoint is probably the more trenchant and timely. This was Carole Lombard’s final film, she was killed in a plane crash returning from a war bond tour the day before the planned premiere. The opening was delayed and her line “What can happen in a plane!” was excised (though it has been restored to current prints).

    The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)-Filmization of the young Jewess’s journal of her time hiding away with her family and assorted friends from the Nazis in a small attic apartment. Wrenching and sad but also full of observation about the human condition and a young girl’s journey toward adulthood. Shelley Winters won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work as the high strung Mrs. Van Daan.

    Confirm or Deny (1941)-During the London Blitz American war correspondent “Mitch” Mitchell (Don Ameche) will use any scheme-coastal wire, war orphan Albert’s (a thirteen year old Roddy McDowell) carrier pigeons etc.-to expedite news to his Stateside editor before anyone else. Meeting teletype operator Jennifer (Joan Bennett) on the night an air raid destroys his office he convinces her to let him use the machine, hidden in a hotel cellar, to send reports. Despite falling for him Jennifer argues with Mitch that his ambition to be first from the front is compromising intelligence work against the Nazis. When tragedy strikes he’s forced to question his methods, all the while New York keeps sending the same message over and over again, "Confirm or deny?”

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    1. I've only see The Diary of Anne Frank, which is amazing. I've seen a few different versions of it, but the one you shared is the best, IMO. I like the sound of the other two.

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  2. Great picks and we have one in common. :-) I haven't seen Life is Beautiful.

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    1. I'm surprised you haven't seen that one! You should.

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  3. Love those Basterds - favourite scene is in the tavern. The first film sounds good and I've been meaning to watch Life is Beautiful for years

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    1. Mine is when they first capture the German soldiers and they go around introducing everyone. Hugo Stiglitz's intro is gold.

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  4. More love for the Basterds! Talk about a movie that is just fantastic scene after fantastic scene after fantastic scene. I can't even pick a favorite part. There's WAY too many good ones.

    Au Revoir les Enfants has been one of my favorite movies since childhood. Or, well, pre-teen-hood lol, and I'm so glad somebody picked it! Everyone should see it; such a beautiful movie.

    I know Life is Beautiful has gotten so much shit over the years, but for the life of me I don't know why (I mean, PROBABLY Benigni's antics at the Oscars, but... seriously?). Granted, I haven't seen it since it came out, but I remember it being REALLY well-done for what it is.

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    1. Yeah, he was super weird at the Oscars that year. Especially the chair thing. I think it might have something to do with a lighter tone in a holocaust movie, but that's precisely why I liked it so much because they had it despite the circumstances.

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  5. YES on Au Revoir Les Enfants and Inglourious Basterds. Life is Beautiful is an alright film.

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    1. Life is Beautiful definitely has a wide variety of opinions about it. When I first started blogging, I was surprised to learn that not everyone loved it like I did. lol

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  6. Love Inglourious Basterds, great film. I liked Life is Beautiful well enough. Haven't seen the other though I have been meaning to.

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    1. It's amazing. My favorite of the Blind Spots I've watched this year.

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  8. Yes...so many World War Two films despite, in my opinion at least, WW1 being the most important war in terms of the affect it had on the World for many years to come. For example, it marked the end of imperialism in Europe, and was a notable cause of the Second World War.

    Only seen one of your picks, and that's Inglorious Basterds. A french friend of mine recommended Au Revoir Les Enfants a few years back...

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    1. It's an excellent film, I had it on my Blind Spot list this year. So glad I finally watched it.

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  9. I haven't seen the first, but Life Is Beautiful is one of my favourite films ever, and Inglourious Basterds, well, it's Tarantino at his best (or almost), I can't help but love it.

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    1. I go back and forth with IG or Kill Bill vol 1 being my favorite Tarantino.

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  10. Les Enfants is a film I have had on my list to see for years. Love your other choices. Life is Beautiful is funny and heart wrenching all at once. I always remember when he is holding his son and seeing something horrific in the fog. Inglorious Basterds is great and one wishes that really did happen to Hitler and his henchmen. I love the use of that David Bowie song when she is dressed in red.

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    1. The theater I was in roared with laughter when Hitler got shot in Basterds, I don't think anyone was expecting that.

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    2. That's pretty cool. I think my mom would have liked that scene since she always told me that she wished she had a bomb with her when she met him. I told her if that was the case, I wouldn't be here:)

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  11. I was very close to picking Inglourious Basterds, but I thought it would be all over the place. Never saw your other two, but they are both familiar titles.

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    1. I love how Inglorious Basterds is so popular, even though it rewrote the end of WWII. lol

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  12. Life is Beautiful is the only one I've seen. I generally find Roberto Benigni style of comedy annoying so the movie just did not work for me at all.

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    1. I'm not fond of his style either, but I felt it worked here. I've never gotten into anything else he's done.

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