I say “Greatest War Movies,” but it’s probably more accurate to say, “favorite war movies.”
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962). Anyone who has ever been to war in the desert cannot help but feel some sort of connection to this grand epic.
ZULU (1964). British tenacity and fire-discipline beat back numerically superior waves of attacking Zulu warriors at Rorke’s Drift.
PATTON (1970). Real-life U.S. Marine-turned actor George C. Scott in the title role of one of the U.S. Army’s greatest generals. This film – though it was released when I was only 11-years-old – inspired me to future military service.
A BRIDGE TOO FAR (1977). Another movie that – like Patton – inspired me to service.
THE BOYS IN COMPANY “C” (1978). Marines in boot camp followed by a hitch in Vietnam. Better than Full Metal Jacket, in my opinion. Though like FMJ, the drill instructor is masterfully played by former real-life drill instructor R. Lee Ermey.
DAS BOOT (1981) or “The Boat.” This German flick with English subtitles is clearly my all-time favorite submarine movie.
THE LIGHT HORSEMEN (1987). Another great desert-warfare classic, this time depicting a close-knit band of Australian Light Horsemen (dragoons) during World War I. If nothing else, the charge against the Turkish defenses at Beersheba (in 1917 Palestine) is worth the entire movie.
GETTYSBURG (1993). Despite the fact that my ancestors lose this fight, and the war, the ever-dramatic Pickett’s Charge stirs me every time I watch it.
BAND OF BROTHERS (2001). Not sure yet, but this amazing chronicle of U.S. paratroopers in World War II’s European theater might soon take a backseat (for me personally) to The Pacific, which chronicles the lives of U.S. Marines fighting in the Pacific theater.
VALKYRIE (2008). I’ve seen a few different film versions of the heroic plot by German Army Col. Claus von Stauffenberg and his compatriots to kill Hitler. But this one is as good as it gets.
Odd man out – I know I’m only supposed to list 10, but the 11th, BRAVEHEART (1995), cannot be ignored. The battle scenes between the Scots and the English are incredible, and particularly fun for me is that I am directly descended from Robert the Bruce, portrayed in this film by actor Angus Macfadyen.
Honorable mentions – All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Alamo (1960), The Wind and the Lion (1975), Midway (1976), Zulu Dawn (1979), Apocalypse Now (1979), Gallipoli (1981), Platoon (1986), Memphis Belle (1990), and Master and Commander (2003).