Thursday, 19 January 2012
Second World War Timeline in movies - 3 Land, sea and air
The Battle of Britain (1969) is regarded a classic, though when viewed today it seems rather plodding - it runs for 132 minutes and in striving for historical accuracy it does sag at times, but it depicts a series of events that saved the UK from being overrun by the Jerry and in doing so it does it well. The aerial battles are intense and expertly filmed. The current special edition DVD is superb value with wealth of special features including a documentary which puts everything in historical context.
If I had to pick one film to represent the attack on Pearl Harbour which occurred in 1941 and brought America into the war it would be, Tora, Tora, Tora (1970). Forget Michael Bay's Pearl Harbour (2001) which may have had better effects but came nowhere near the quality of Tora, Tora Tora. This single event may have finally dragged America into the war, but in truth they were already involved in supporting the UK and supplying both arms and aid. The entry of the US into the global conflict but the majority of the American public were against the US fighting another war in Europe, until that day in December 1941 when death reigned down on the Hawaiian military base. Like Battle of Britain before it, Tora Tora Tora is made in a semi documentary style, and because of this both films are plodding on times though the aerial effects make up for any shortcomings in dramatizing the events.
And we're back on dry land for a look at the battle between The Desert Rats and the the respected German commander Rommel. There's a great DVD double pack containing The Desert Rats (1953) and The Desert Fox (1951) - and for anyone wanting a celluloid recreation of these events this DVD set it pretty much indispensable. James Mason plays Rommel in both movies which adds some continuity between pictures.
The Desert Rats stars Richard Burton in only his second Hollywood role (between Oscar-nominated turns in My Cousin Rachel and The Robe), as a Scottish commando put in charge of a battalion of the 9th Australian Division defending Tobruk. The Aussies don't like him, and with a year of grim North African duty already under his belt, he's not too crazy about his new responsibilities either. The outfit is charged with staving off the battering assaults of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel for two months, to give the British Army time to regroup in Cairo and prepare for a counterattack. In the end, the "desert rats" play hell with the Desert Fox for 242 days, during which time they and their commander develop some mutual respect.
Next up in our World War movie timeline - Russia