Information Warfare: Underrated Movies on Military Matters

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June 1, 2006: When war movies are discussed, some films automatically come to mind, like Saving Private Ryan or Pearl Harbor. These films get a lot of the press, and a lot of the attention, but some of the best war movies are ones you may not have heard much of, and they can only be acquired by checking the second-hand sales at Amazon. Here are, arguably, the best ten war movies that fall into this "underrated" category.

10. Operation Pacific - This is one of the slightly lesser-known John Wayne movies. It's a movie that tells the story of the American submarine campaign in the Pacific. Much of this story is based on real incidents (including the instance where Howard Gilmore earned the Medal of Honor in 1943), and in fact, the story of fixing the torpedo problems is told very well here.

9. Go For Broke - This film, starring Van Johnson, tells the story of the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This is a film that tells this story - and also shows how Americans came together to defeat Nazism.

8. Gung Ho! - This was another movie that focused on a story often ignored - this being the raid on Makin Atoll in August, 1942. It went somewhat into detail about how the Marine Raiders were trained, but the raid on Makin Atoll has been ignored by Hollywood, even though it had an effect on the Central Pacific drive later in the war.

7. BAT 21 - This tells the story of Iceal Hambleton, the only survivor of the crew of an EB-66 that was shot down during the Vietnam War. This movie captures some of the details from history - particularly the ingenious code that helped save Hambleton from capture.

6. Flight of the Intruder - Based on the 1986 novel by Stephen Coonts, this and BAT 21 were some of the first movies that treated the American military personnel who fought the Vietnam War as heroes. One of the more poignant scenes occurs when a crippled American pilot calls an air strike on top of his position.

5. Windtalkers - This is one of the best movies, not for its realistic portrayal of the ground combat in the Pacific Theater, but because of how it tells the story of the Navajo code-talkers. In many ways, the Pacific Theater was a story of codes - and Windtalkers does a great job of telling the story of one of the codes.

4. Gettysburg - It did not set any box-office records, but this is one of the most authentic war movies that has come out in recent years. For a war movie, this film has several memorable scenes. The fact that the film features John Buford on the first day is an added bonus - giving one of the biggest unsung heroes of American history his due.

3. Midway - While this movie drags on for the first 45 minutes, it is highly underrated for several reasons. Not only is it the only major treatment of the Battle of Midway that has been done by Hollywood, it gives Joe Rochefort's role some significant time on screen. It also had some very good portrayals of the American commanders involved, particularly Raymond Spruance.

2. DC 9/11: Time of Crisis - Made three years before United 93 and World Trade Center came out, this Showtime original movie tells the story of how the government reacted to the attacks that began the war on terror. The movie also has a superb commentary, which makes this film a solid docudrama as the history is discussed.

1. The Gallant Hours - Probably one of the hardest to find (Amazon only shows second-hand sales on VHS available), this is arguably one of the best war movies out there. Not so much for what it shows - most of the combat takes place off-screen - but for the side of warfare that it does show, the loneliness of command. Jimmy Stewart gets two of the more poignant scenes that have emerged from the many war movies that have been made.

These are some of the best war movies that you may not have heard of. Giving these movies a chance is a good way to spend an evening enjoying a good war movie - and some of them will tell stories you have never heard of. - Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)

 


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