World War 2 Movies

Over the years, there have been hundreds of World War 2 movies that have been both good and bad. There’s been stories about D-Day, individual companies, leaders, privates, small towns in France, and even specific races and nationalities. While everyone has their own preference to which have been the best, here’s a small list of favorites everyone will enjoy. However, there is no specific order.

The Battle of Britain

If you enjoy instant classics then you won’t want to miss the chance to see the Battle of Britain. This 1969 movie with names such as Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier brought World War II to the skies and air space around British soil. It was the only way the Royal Air Force could keep Germany from invading their country and one of the most important pieces of the war. Even if you’re not a fan of the oldies, this one will change your mind.

The Thin Red Line

Unbelievable story lines is the name of the game in The Thin Red Line. A full cast that includes names like Sean Penn, Adrian Brody, Nick Nolte, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, George Clooney, and many others left this film with seven Acadamy Award nominations. It’s a far cry from the normal World War 2 movies you’ve seen thanks to a story line that revolves around the sporadic and unorganized issues in the Pacific during the war.

The Longest Day

Sometimes World War 2 movies can be a little repetitive due to one sided views by the United States. However, The Longest Day was well ahead of its time as it focused on D-Day, but looking at both sides of the spectrum. This 1962 great leaves you feeling compassionate for both sides and essentially wondering why soldiers followed their respective countries with passion and more often then not, sacrifice. After getting a look at Sean Connery, Red Button and Richard Burton in their epic roles, you may just think this is the best war movie ever.

Band of Brothers

One the best World War 2 movies to date never even made it to the mainstream theater. It was much better suited for an HBO Series due to the fact there were ten episodes in all. A story about the men of the 501st who risked their lives in dire situations from the beginning of the war through its entirety. Along the way, many died, but the stories in between that Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg put together are priceless.

Enemy at the Gates

Understanding different cultures and times are one of the receives World War 2 movies are so addictive. Enemy at the Gates gives you a firsthand look at the experience in the Russian ranks during trying times. Based around the Battle of Stalingrad, the movie is based around the best snipers from each country running on a collision course with each other. Vasily Zaytsev, the Russian sharpshooter takes out high-ranking officials causing dismay in the German battalions. Major Erwin König is then called in to rectify the situation.

Saving Private Ryan

If you need a World War 2 movie to grab your attention and keep it throughout, then Saving Private Ryan is the best option. Tom Hanks plays an old school teach from Pennsylvania transformed into Captain John H. Miller takes a group of young soldiers behind enemy lines to save a lone survivor of four brothers. Every emotion you can think of comes to surface in this movie and it became an instant classic when it was first released.

Schindler’s List

Who can ever forget the holocaust of the war? Even though this isn’t based on the front lines, it has to be on anyone’s list. The backdrop story of Jewish families and how they had to deal with World War II and the German army is just unthinkable. For those of you who were fortunate enough to see this in the theaters most likely saw everyone shed a tear at one time or another. This is one of the World War II movies that will play with your emotions.

Tuskegee Airmen

Another HBO Series in the 90s left everyone in awe of Tuskegee Airmen. There are many World War II movies out there, but this had a unique appeal about African-Americans pilots during the War. Lawrence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr., and an entire cast give us an inside look at the trials and tribulations of the men and women who were a crucial part of the war, but never respected until years later.

We could sit here and talk about several others, but the war movies you see above changed the landscape of the stories that have been told through the eyes of Hollywood. All of these are highly recommended, and while everyone’s list is different, every single one of them is well worth watching.

6 thoughts on “World War 2 Movies

  1. Nate

    Some of my favorite WWII movies include the ones above along with:

    In Harm’s Way
    The Dam Busters
    The Desert Rats
    Torpedo Run
    Up Periscope
    Operation Pacific
    Objective, Burma
    Fighting Seabees
    Flying Tigers
    They Were Expendable – PT Boat based movie

    There are many more, but I hope you will enjoy.


  2. korreen lenz

    Don’t know name or actors but its about a ww1 or Ww2 movie that a plane goes down in the desert the men don’t know that they are dead until they find the plane many years later, and as they find the remains the men start to disappear all but the last man when I think they find his dog tags under the plane.can you help me find what the movie is called?

    1. Robert

      Korreen Lenz
      The movie you are describing is “Sole Survivor” about 1970 staring Richard Baseheart and William Shatner (of Star Trek fame). The story is actually loosely based on the true story of the crew of the B-24 Lady Be Good. They were a rookie or green crew that became lost on their way back to their base in N Africa after a mission to Italy. By the time they got close to their base it was dark, they over flew it and when the B-24 got low on fuel they bailed out. A search was done but nothing was found and as the war moved on they just became one of the many lost crews presumed dead.
      The Lady Be Good was found by British oil exploration team flying over the harsh Libyan Desert in 1958. They reported it to the USAF but no investigation of the wreak was done until 1960. Among some of the things found were canteen of water and a thermos of tea both still drinkable and the radio on board was also working.
      Remains of the crew were found over several months. With the little amount of water they had and having bailed out 400 miles away from base in the desert, they died lost. It was later found that One crew members parachute did not deployed properly and he was killed impacting the ground. That may have been the reason for the name of that movie, Sole Survivor because of the notes found on one of the crewmen as he was missing when the rest regrouped. Also for many years it was said that one crewmen was never found.
      The one mentioned that was on the Twilight Zone might have been loosely based on Lady Be Good and may have lead to the later movie Sole Survivor.
      If you would like to see a YouTube video on Lady Be Good and remains recovery see the link below. Sad story though but then there were many sad stories like this during the war. Many crews went down in the Himalayas, known as flying the Hump, flying supplies to groups in China that have never been found. Another crew that survived but died from cold exposure was a B-26 crew that bellied landed in Greenland during winter in a remote area. One of the crew left a diary. Just last year they found a British P-40 in the Egyptian desert, the pilot survived but so far his remains have not been found.
      Well if any one is interested in the Lady Be Good YouTube video here is a link.
      BTW I served in the USAF most of my life and WWII history has always been a big hobby of mine. Forgive me if I gave you to much information.

  3. Bug Eye

    A couple more recent movies,
    Flags of our fathers
    Letters from Iwo Jima
    Pearl Harbor

    From the 70’s
    A bridge too far

  4. NVSmith

    Two comments: 1) I’m surprised that no one has mentioned on of the best war movies, let alone WW2 aviation war movies, “12 O’Clock High” novel and movie by Beirne Lay, Jr. who experienced the war in the 8th (US) Air Force.
    2) To Korreen Lenz:I believe there was an episode of “The Twilight Zone” that fits the scenario you describe.

  5. Robert

    12 O’Clock High is my absolute favorite movie and TV show. Watched them as a kid along with another TV show Combat.
    Both TV shows can be seen on YouTube and so can the Movie. One other great movie “The Best Years of Our Lives” should be added to this list. It deals with after the war and how Military men were dealing with reentering society after the war. Basically it was showing men dealing with PTSD though they did not know about it back then. Good movie to look up if you haven’t seen it.
    Other great movies
    The Enemy Below
    8 Iron Men
    Cross Of Iron also know as Where the Iron Crosses Grow 1977
    Die Brucke (The Bridge) Original German, can be found with English sub titles. It was also remade I think in the 1990’s or 2000’s but in my humble opinion not as good as the original.
    30 Seconds Over Tokyo
    A Bridge to Far
    The Remagen Bridge
    Battle Ground
    The Longest Day
    Tora Tora Tora
    Wake Island (1942)
    Surprised no one mentioned Casablanca One of the best parts
    The Caine Mutiny
    The Battle of the Bulge
    Sands of Iwo jima
    Operation Pacific
    Back to Bataan
    5 Graves to Cairo
    American Guerilla in the Philippians
    The Rats of Tobruk
    Flying Fortress
    The War Lover
    Hell is for Hero’s
    There are literally thousands of WWII movies, documentaries and TV shows.
    One of the best and one of the first TV documentaries (1952) was Victory at Sea a must see if for nothing else but to remember those that gave all.
    One last one that goes beyond WWII and is a bit unnerving but very interesting is the story of the atomic bombs called Trinity and Beyond narrated by William Shatner (of Star Trek fame). It shows the development of the nuclear bombs and show most, if not all of the testing. From what I’ve heard about this film it was started or done by a person in the rock music world that was doing some research in the DC Archives. He came across the films of all the atomic testing that documented all of it. He became alarmed about them because some of the films were deteriorating and were going to be lost. None the less it is very well done and very interesting.
    I served in the USAF Strategic Air Command (SAC) and worked on B-52’s. Sometimes I was called out to fix something on a B-52 that was loaded with live Nukes on the alert pad back in the 70’s and 80’s. So Trinity and Beyond was interesting to me.


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