Not All World War II Movies Take Place on the Battlefield
03.19.13 by Mandy
Sure battlefields hold plenty of action, but many of the stories of war happen far from the frontlines. The historical drama Bomb Girls may not be set in a World War II combat zone, but it is undoubtedly a story of struggle and the public and private battles that Allied women and men (though, mostly women) dealt with during the war years.
With the second season of the Reelz original series premiering next week, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favorite movies that may not take place on a beachhead or depict the gruesome atrocities of war, but are still 1940s wartime stories, nonetheless. These movies aren't the typical tales from the war, but then not every war story needs to be profoundly tragic.
Clock in with the Blue Shift
Of all the movie lists, on all the websites, in all the world, Casablanca
has to walk on to ours. Beloved by both critics and audiences for many decades, this Oscar-winning, often quoted movie has the Second World War at its core. Rick and Ilsa may not be meant to be together forever, but this movie is a great example of how the grand motions of war can impact small, interpersonal relationships. Though this movie is best known for its love story, it's moments like Rick's surprise streak of generosity or the entire bar breaking out singing the French national anthem that tend to tug at our heartstrings the most.
Nazis. We hate those guys too, Indy. Most people don't think "war movie" when they think Last Crusade
, but the fact that the war is imminent is what makes the stakes high in this "race against evil." Also, even though Dr. and Dr. Jones are having their adventure before war was declared on Germany, don't forget that during the course of the movie, Germany does "declare war on the Jones boys."
Want to make a great wartime spy movie? Here are some elements to include: Traitors, wine, German scientists, Rio de Janeiro, the occasional midriff top, and some fabulous party scenes. Also keep in mind that it can never hurt to include Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman and let the audience watch the pair fall in love during a leisurely dinner-at-home date. Even with no front in sight, this Hitchcock classic is a suspenseful and exciting WWII movie.
Admittedly, this adaptation of a John Irving
novel is not a perennial classic like Casablanca
or a major blockbuster like Last Crusade
, but it is the winner of two Academy Awards, and it's a story about life on the home front during the 1940s. Though the orphanage in The Cider House Rules
is set in a remote spot in Maine, the events of WWII have more impact on the characters’ romantic relationships than their own wishes and desires. Also, who doesn't want to see Paul Rudd
It's hard to imagine a project that would involve Madonna
, Tom Hanks
, and Rosie O'Donnell
today, but in 1992 they all came together to make A League of Their Own
. The movie features many quotable lines, lots of miniskirts, and one of the best acting performances of Madonna's career. While the characters in the flick might have started playing ball long before the war began, the ladies never would have had a chance to play in front of fans if the boys weren’t off at war.
Though the main character, Ofelia, spends most of her time in an unearthly fantasy world, she is actually living in Spain circa 1944. More brain-bending fairytale than war movie, the real world consequences of the war are what push the story forward, even if the real reason to watch it is to get immersed in the crazy mind of director Guillermo del Toro
. Seriously, a creepy guy with eyeballs in his palms? Who else would do that?
It's an amazing movie, but we have to admit that this one made the list on something of a technicality; these guys aren't on the front lines, but they are in a POW camp. From outwitting their jailers to racing across occupied Europe, Steve McQueen
and company make this movie a must-watch whenever it's on TV, no matter how many times we've already seen it. Though the escape itself wasn’t as successful as viewers would like, this non-battlefield WWII movie is decidedly great.
This little movie features the enormously talented Judi Dench
who just wants to put same naked ladies in her show. The outbreak of WWII makes the stakes higher than just whether or not her little theater will stay in business, and proves that even a nude review can be caught in the turmoil of war.
What's your favorite WWII era movie that doesn't focus on the battles? Vote for your favorites and tell us in the comments section.