Home Front Friday: Wartime War Movies
Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!
Last Sunday was the 88th Academy Awards, honoring some of Hollywood’s most talented denizens. Everyone recognizes the gleaming golden Oscar statuette, but during World War II, a metal shortage meant that the statuettes had to be made out of painted plaster instead of the usual gold plated Britannia metal. Once the war ended, winners were able to exchange their plaster Oscars for metal ones.
Countless movies have been made focusing on World War II, and some of them were even made before the war ended! There are several famous examples of war films made while the fighting was still raging on. Here are some wartime war films to consider watching on a rainy evening:
- The Great Dictator (1940): In this classic comedy, Charlie Chaplin plays Adenoid Hynkel, a scathing parody of Adolf Hitler, who is seeking to expand his empire at the expense of the Jews of his nation. Chaplin also plays a Jewish barber in the film, who is seeking to escape Hynkel’s persecution. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including best picture, and was included as #37 in AFI’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.
- Casablanca (1942): This classic movie tells the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco, where he encounters his former lover (Ingrid Bergman) and her new husband (Paul Henreid), who are trying to escape from the Nazis. It was nominated for 8 Oscars and won 3 of them, scooping up best picture and best director, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made.
- Mrs. Miniver (1942): This British film depicts a middle class family struggling to survive the first months of the war. It was nominated for a whopping 15 Oscars, and took away 6 of them, including best picture, director, and actress in a leading role.
- Bataan (1943): This film dramatizes one of the most intense phases of the Pacific Theater: the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. In this movie, thirteen men are chosen to blow up a bridge on the Bataan peninsula and keep the Japanese from rebuilding it. The film wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, but is still considered to be a classic war movie.
- Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944): This film depicts the story of the Doolittle Raid, which occurred only four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Based on a book by Captain Ted W. Lawson, a pilot who participated in the raid, the film has been praised for its historical accuracy, use of real wartime footage integrated with Hollywood film, and its commendation by actual participants in the raid. It took home the Oscar for best special effects and was also nominated for best cinematography.
Of course, if none of these suit your fancy, there are hundreds of other World War II related movies to choose from, ranging from the very beginnings of conflict in 1939 to as recently as last year!
Posted by Katie Atkins, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.