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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Drama Filled Thursdays (Military Dramas)

Another Thursday means more drama. Not personal drama, but good film dramas. It's the day I choose 5 similarly themed dramas and write a little as to why I love them. Last week it was family dramas. Today it is military, in honor of Veteran's Day tomorrow. So here are some of my favorite military films, set during peacetime or wartime that present some great drama. And I think it's great that they don't have to be combat films per se, but by focusing on how soldiers interact with civilians always make for great drama.


This is one of my favorite films of all time, sitting right there nestled in my top 10. The story in this film centers on three returning WW Two veterans after the war has ended. Frederic March is Al Stephenson, who returns to his loving wife Milly (a magnificent performance by Myrna Loy), his two children Peggy (a terrific Teresa Wright) and Rob (Michael Hall). Al returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. He has several scenes where he copes by drinking heavily. Dana Andrews is Fred Derry, an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage with Virginia Mayo. He ends up falling for Peggy, and Peggy lets her mom know that she doesn't mind busting up the marriage to be with Fred. I was like, heck yeah, go for it Peggy. That's when I fell in love with Teresa Wright at that exact moment. And the last soldier is Homer Parrish (played by real life amputee Harold Russell) who unsure that his fiancée's (Cathy O'Donnell) feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of these three men face a different crisis in their lives and try to cope and come through it emotionally sound. This movie is awesome. I can't find any faults with it. From the top notch cast to the expert direction by William Wyler to the epic music score by Hugo Friedhofer and the gorgeous cinematography by Gregg Toland. The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best films ever made.


This mammoth film which clocks in at just under 3 hours, and stars Claudette Colbert as family matriach Anne Hilton, who copes with family life while her husband Tim is away during World War Two. She has two daughters, Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Bridget (Shirley Temple) that she watches after. Anne takes in a lodger to help make ends meet during wartime rationing and shortages. The lodger is Colonel Smollett, played by Monty Woolley. The colonel also happens to have a son named William (Robert Walker) who falls in love with Jane. Joseph Cotten appears as a friend of the family that secretly loves Anne. Rounding out the cast are Agnes Moorehead, Hattie MacDaniel, Keenan Wynn, and Guy Madison. Since You Went Away is top notch melodrama with solid performances, especially by Colbert and Woolley. But do not overlook Jennifer Jones in a truly emotional performance as the eldest daughter Jane. Look for her scene at the train station when she says good-bye to William before he goes off to war. If you don't get a little misty eye during that scene, then there is something wrong. Wonderfully directed by John Cromwell, backed by a powerful Max Steiner music score, Since You Went Away is one heck of a movie. A bit long, but never boring. It really couldn't been done any better.



 Top notch film with a super cast. It takes place at Pearl Harbor, a few weeks before the attack by the Japanese. Montgomery Clift who plays Private Prewitt, arrives at the base and immediately draws the ire of the commander, who wants him to be on the boxing team. Clift refuses and his life at the barracks becomes a living hell. A truly emotional and epic film with a cast that features Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra. All give Oscar caliber performances especially Reed as a floozie who Clift falls for. And Sinatra is perfect as Private Maggio. A must see.

Top notch military drama with powerhouse performances. Led by Fredric March as President Jordan Lyman who wants to get a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union through the senate. He meets resistance with his own country military leaders. Specifially General James Mattoon Scott (played by Burt Lancaster). In comes Colonel Martin Casey (Kirk Douglas) who tries to help the President as a web of lies begin to unfurl all in Washington, D.C. Co-starring Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, and Martin Balsam, Seven Days In May is one hell of a film.


Quaint little seen gem that stars Anne Baxter as Tessa Osbourne, a seaman (Charles Winninger) grandaughter. The family lives on a boat in Florida and Tessa comes up with the idea to invite a serviceman for Sunday dinner before he is shipped out for duty. Because of their ramshackle lifestyle, Winninger's brood has trouble getting a soldier to accept their hospitality until lonely, defensive GI John Hodiak comes along. Of course Tessa falls in love and the family remembers this day like none before it. This is one film that doesn't get a lot of air time or that has been seen by a lot of people. I saw it once by accident and loved it immediately. It's a simple yet touching film that features an excellent cast. Along with Baxter, Winninger and Hodiak, the film also stars Anne Revere, Chill Wills, and Jane Darwell. If you have never seen this film, do yourself a favor and check it out immediately. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Patti said...

Great film choices, Monty!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE The Best Years of Our Lives. It's one of my top 10 movies of all-time. And it's my annual Veteran's Day movie, so I am positively salivating at the thought that I get to watch it tomorrow. Such a totally amazing movie!! What a cast!!

I also love (though to a lesser extent than Best Years of Our Lives) From Here to Eternity. What an amazing cast in that film as well!! And all of them were fantastic in their roles!!

I enjoyed Since You Went Away, but I've only seen it once. I've been thinking for awhile that it's time for a re-watch.

Never seen Seven Days in May.

And as for Sunday Dinner for a Soldier, well that has been on my "hope TCM shows it" list for 3 years now. And they never run it. I would love to see it. Do you have it on disc?

I actually love military dramas, so I totally love this post!


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