World War 1 Movies
The list of great World War I movies includes some of the best films ever made. Called at the time “the war to end all wars,” WWI is often overshadowed by the second world war in film and literature, but it had several compelling themes and angles for great storytelling. These films depict the gritty brutality of the first war to use machine guns, flame throwers and trench warfare.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” This World War I movie, despite being told from the perspective of the Germans, is an American classic and is on the National Film Registry. Made in 1930, it was known for brining the horror and grittiness of war to the public and questions standard notions of heroism and bravery. A particular poignant scene occurs after a soldier stabs a man—the solider finds himself trapped with the dying soldier in a foxhole overnight and attempts to comfort him in his distress.
“The African Queen” One of the best films ever made, this World War I movie stars the incredible cast of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Set far from the battlefields, the African village where Hepburn’s character is a missionary is about to be overrun by Germans, so she hops on a boat—the African Queen—with Bogart’s character. In the role which won him his only Oscar, Bogart plays a crotchety, salty sailor who bumps heads with the schoolmarmy missionary the whole way down the Ulanga river.
“Paths of Glory” Stanley Kubrick directed this World War I movie starring Kirk Douglas, the legendary tough guy. This film is anti-war piece, showing the insanity of suicide missions and depicting kindly men who stand up to their senior officers when commands make no sense. Douglas plays a colonel and lawyer who later defends a group of soldiers who are on trial for court martial.
“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” This excellent World War I movie was made in 1921 and was a silent picture starring the legendary silent film actor Rudolph Valentino. Famed for its scenes of tango dancing, the film not only made Valentino a star, but caused a craze in gaucho pants and tango dancing. Valentino’s character goes on to become a war hero fighting bravely at the front. In one scene he recognizes his German cousin and as they are about to embrace, both are killed by a falling shell.
“Gallipoli” This 1981 World War I movie was one of Mel Gibson’s early films and is based on a real-life events of the Australian army in this war. The film follows a group of young recruits—the country’s best and brightest—as they train and grow together. Eventually, they take part in the Battle of the Nek in Turkey, a futile battle where they are all sent off to their death, wiping out a massive portion of Australia’s up-and-coming generation of young men.