10 Best American War Films

Monday, January 31 by Jackie Barlow

The 10 best American war films include those classics viewers love decades after their release. The best American war films include beloved actors who remained popular a long period of time.

  1. "All Quiet on the Western Front" was a 1930 film starring Lew Ayres and Louis Wolheim that the brought the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque to life. Remarque wrote about the reality of that war and the movie version earned an Oscar for Best Picture.
  2. "Sergeant York" was based on Sgt. Alvin York's feat—he captured more than 120 German troops single-handedly during World War I. That made the real Sergeant York the most decorated soldier in that war.
  3. "Stalag 17" showed a German POW camp in the mid-1940s. Otto Preminger played the sadistic commander and William Holden won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a wiseguy in this group of American sergeants. 
  4. "Bridge On the River Kwai" was a 1957 adventure and anti-war epic. The movie was based on the true World War II story of Lt. Colonel Philip Toosey who was in charge of the building of two bridges on the Kwai River. The building took over eight months and the bridges were used for transport for two years until they were destroyed. Alec Guinness won an Academy Award for Best Actor. The movie earned a total of seven Academy Awards.
  5. "The Alamo" was finally released in 1960 as John Wayne's directorial debut, a project that took fifteen years. Set in 1836, the movie tells of the 184 Americans and Texicans who defended the Alamo while claiming independence from Mexico. Top names in this movie also include Laurence Harvey and Richard Widmark.
  6. "The Great Escape" starred such great names as Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, James Garner and more. Allied captives of the Nazis made an eleven-month plan to escape from a prison that was supposedly escape-proof. 
  7. "The Dirty Dozen" was a bad-guys-as-heroes World War II story. Twelve criminals were given a mission against a chateau full of vacationing Nazi officers.  Some of the stars in the movie were Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes and Donald Sutherland.
  8. "Patton," is about the tale of General George S. Patton. George C. Scott won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Patton, but later returned the Oscar. This movie is not only about Patton's invasion of Germany and the Third Reich's fall, but relates his many faults that finally led to his being relieved of his post as Occupation Commander of Germany. 
  9. "Glory" tells the history of the first black regiment to fight on behalf of the North during the Civil War. The movie was told through the eyes of the leader, General Robert Gould Shaw, played by Matthew Broderick. The father figure of the group was played by Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington was an escaped slave.
  10. "Saving Private Ryan" starred Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller. His platoon was sent to retrieve a private whose thre brothers had been killed in action in World War II.