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WW2 - World War II
(11-05-2013, 11:06 PM)TM2YC Wrote: 'Where Eagles Dare' is supposed to be QT all time favourite movie and it's pretty high on my list too. Richard Burton as an octuple Agent, Clint Eastwood taking on half the German army single handedly and that theme music... it don't get much better!

Welp, let's give it a look! Smile

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

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Three years before Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood scores a career-high body count in this 2.5-hour action epic also starring Richard Burton. Fans of character dramas should look elsewhere, as Eagles is all plot (and action, though it takes half the movie to get there). And there is one big plot whopper that occurred to me during my viewing, but I soon forgot about it amidst the explosions:

At Burton's behest, one of the Nazis has their radio operator place a call to Italy... even though the movie made a big deal out of Eastwood killing both those guys, and leaving them in their station!

Also, I wasn't clear why Burton was so intent on dragging his traitorous comrades around... was it just on principle, in order to have them stand trial in Britain? Seems like way too much trouble and danger for its worth. Or was it to dispose of one at a time, as distractions/feints - in which case, why were they going along with it? Didn't make much sense either way.

Apart from magically bottomless ammo supplies, however, the movie does have two big flaws: for starters, pretty much everything goes according to plan - all heist movies should have one major hiccup/setback for the heroes to work around or fight their way through, but we don't get that here. Second, all the villain characters die en masse a little more than halfway through, and then we're left with a full hour of wasting mooks, which gets a bit old.

Still, despite its dramatic shortcomings, the scenery is spectacular, the kills are numerous and crunchy, the explosions plentiful, and the upper lips stiff as steel. I'll be generous, and give Where Eagles Dare a B+, in large part for sheer production values.
A League of Their Own (1992)

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A corny and overly broad flick that deliberately and falsely implies (as reflected in Ebert's review) that the War threatened Major League Baseball by cannibalizing its players - in reality, the majors did just fine, in part by cannibalizing the minors, many of whom folded. The fact that MLB and the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League both thrived is no demerit to the latter, but the filmmakers evidently disagreed. (Indeed, the Midwest-based league survived the end of the war, not meeting its actual doom until the television boom of the 50s.)

Anyhow, the characters and scenes are thinly and cartoonishly sketched, the story meanders, and the late 80's bookend sequences (full disclosure: I skipped the first one entirely) are both long and unnecessary. Like The Tuskeegee Airmen, this would probably fare better as a TV series (a short-lived one actually spun off from the movie, carrying over a few of the actors), and without the considerable star power of Tom Hanks and the stunning 6'0 Geena Davis (why on Earth did the WB not give her a Wonder Woman movie at the time?!), the movie wouldn't amount to much at all. But, in spite of the pretty awful "There's no crying in baseball!" scene, Hanks and Davis are great, and I give the movie compensatory points for not painting the League in overly heroic/grandiose strokes, which it easily could have done. (First-rate, spoilerific Todd in the Shadows video review here.)

Grade: B

(And, the Madonna end credits song suuuuucks.)
Mrs Henderson Presents (2005)

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An outrageously rich and eccentric widow (Judi Dench) buys a run-down West End theatre on a whim, and hires a similarly sharp-tongued manager (Bob Hoskins) to run it. When revenues for their vaudeville revue show plummet, she decides to bring live nudity to the masses - but, per the censors, the unclothed ladies must remain immobile while on stage, so they can be considered pieces of fine art (while the rest of the performers sing and dance in front of them). Enter WWII - eventually - and suddenly there's the very real prospect these immobile stage nudes will be the only real breasts some young servicemen will ever see.

A thoroughly old-fashioned, hokey, charming pic, with fun interplay between Dench and Hoskins. There aren't many dramatic stakes, but, hey, that's all right, sometimes.

Grade: B
(07-26-2018, 05:45 PM)Gaith Wrote: (And, the Madonna end credits song suuuuucks.)

Now I remember why we can't be friends.
^ Really? You like this?! Tongue

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

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The central gimmick, wherein twelve Army convicts and one badass major are selected for a suicide mission in pre-D-Day Occupied France, is a cracking one, and the leisurely first half of training and bonding is decent enough. Alas, the mission itself is a dud: instead of some impossible assault on an impregnable fortress that could only be justified by using utterly expendable prisoners (think Where Eagles Dare), their task is to shoot up... a cocktail party in a fancy estate. Meh. Also, a number of the actors are much too old to be grunts. For American troops committing outlandish anti-Nazi war crimes, go with another watch of Inglourious Basterds.

Grade: C+
(08-05-2018, 03:42 PM)Gaith Wrote: ^ Really? You like this?! Tongue

Number 92 on the BFI's Top 100 British films list...

In Which We Serve (1942)
British war-time patriotic/propaganda movie written, produced, starring and co-directed by Noël Coward (David Lean did the action scenes). On a technical level this was probably like 1942's answer to Star Wars, with model work so far ahead of other films of the period, that I struggled to tell what was real and what wasn't. That's mixed with some large scale real footage because Coward had the full cooperation of the government.

The "birth, life and death" of a Naval Destroyer HMS Torrin (and the crew who serve upon her) is told from shipyard to sinking and it's exploits in between. The ensemble cast features the very young looking John Mills and Richard Attenborough. Noël Coward plays the unflappable and stern Captain, he is excellent in the battle scenes and when talking to his men but I thought he was fairly wooden in the domestic scenes. Those scenes are part of a flashback structure where we learn about the home lives of the crew and how the war is going back home. This gives it an "upstairs downstairs" flavour with the Officers being upper-middle class, contrasting with the working-class crew and then some in the middle. The dialogue is dense with Naval nomenclature, which sounds researched and authentic. Overall I'd compare this to 'Das Boot', another film about men at sea and their deep bond with the vessel they live in.

Hope and Glory (1987)

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The Blitz wasn't all grimness and drudgery. For a particular young boy, at least, all the upheaval was kind of fun, even if his teenage sister was being a total brat. John Boorman wrote and directed this very episodic and autobiographical film that's a pleasure to watch, even if it doesn't necessarily amount to a great deal, story-wise. The child performances especially are uniformly remarkable.

Grade: B+
^ I must re-watch that sometime. Terrific film.

The Battle of the River Plate (1956)
One of the last films by "The Archers" (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) is this portrayal of the hunt for the German battleship Graf Spee in December '39. The battle sequence in the middle is an excellent depiction of naval tactics, range and slow attrition (at least it seemed that way to this landlubber). Barely a model is insight as they seem to have had an impressive flotilla of fullsize cruisers at their disposal (including one of the actual ships from the battle). Lots of convincing sounding military dialogue and observance of Naval customs, lend authenticity. I noticed many of the cast of trusty old thesps went on to take prominent roles in the Bond movies. Outside of the violent middle act, the opening and closing are devoted to the theme of honour and nobility. Enemies giving no quarter but when the fighting is done, sharing a friendly drink. By The Archers' usual genius standards, this is a middling entry but a solid war movie by anyone else's measure.

Okay, now this is weird: I mentioned upthread that for the past four years, the YouTube channel The Great War has been making excellent weekly WW1 summaries in real time one century after the fact. It's a great conceit, and it's almost done. So, given that WW2 started in September 1939, the obvious thing would be to start that recap, if not in 2039, then at the very least 2019, and make weekly summaries from 80 years ago... but no, the main guy behind The Great War, Indy Neidell, started a WW2 recap channel called World War Two last month, charting history 79 years later, before the WW1 recap has even finished! Weirder still, the WW2 recap appears to be a separate venture from the WW1 one, with no cross-promotion.

As one who's been following WW1 since the spring, I can't handle two wars at once! If anything, I guess I'll have to start my WW2 recap viewing next September, watching the weekly summaries a year late, but a pleasing 80 years on rather than 79. (To make things even more confusing, an inter-war series from the same team has been appearing on the again separate channel Time Ghost History, and is not yet complete! Okay, my head's spinning.)

Reading some of the WW2 recap comments, it seems the decision to jump the gun (sorry!) on the Second World War series was largely an economic one for the host and his partner, which is understandable, if still a bit disappointing. Anyhow, if you're ready to start a six-year recap show of WW2 right now, and don't mind starting 79 years after the fact rather than a clean eight decades, here's the first episode:


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