The Best Military Movies Ever Made

A Ticket to the Best Military Movies Before the Oscars
Kevin Costner stars in “Dances with Wolves” as a Union Army lieutenant who befriends a tribe of Lakota Native Americans. Source: Variety.

Movies enchant.

They open doors to adventure; they pave avenues of escape; they provide glimpses of history; they cause laughter or tears; they are impersonal or very personal.

The power of film applies to military movies.

So, get comfortable and enjoy a chronological and cinematic look at American history.


American Revolution

A look into American history at some of the history surrounding the fight for independence.

  • The Howards of Virginia (1940)
  • The Scarlet Coat (1955)
  • The Devil’s Disciple (1959)
  • John Paul Jones (1959)
  • Valley Forge (1975)
  • Revolution (1985)
  • April Morning (1988)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
  • The Patriot (2000)
  • Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003)


Pre-Civil War

Often overlooked due the looming Civil War, one film neatly captures the fight for the independence of Texas.

  • The Alamo (2004)


Civil War

The deadliest war in our history, a host of movies offer perspective.

  • Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
  • Horse Soldiers (1959)
  • Glory (1989)
  • Dances with Wolves (1990)
  • Gettysburg (1993)
  • Ride with the Devil (1999)
  • Gangs of New York (2002)
  • Gods and Generals (2003)
  • Cold Mountain (2003)
  • Lincoln (2012)
  • Free State of Jones (2016)


World War I

The war to end all wars provides material for movies, some of which are silent.

  • The Lost Battalion (1919)
  • Wings (1927)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  • Sergeant York (1941)
  • African Queen (1951)
  • Paths of Glory (1957)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • The Blue Max (1966)
  • Gallipoli (1981)
  • A Very Long Engagement (2004)
  • Flyboys (2006)
  • The Red Baron (2008)
  • Beneath Hill 60 (2010)
  • War Horse (2011)


World War II

No conflict in our history has led to more movies; many are classics.

  • Went the Day Well? (1942)
  • Millions Like Us (1943)
  • Casablanca (1943)
  • The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951)
  • From Here to Eternity (1953)
  • The Dam Busters (1954)
  • Attack (1956)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  • Paratroop Command (1959)
  • The Longest Day (1962)
  • Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
  • The Great Escape (1963)
  • Von Ryan’s Express (1965)
  • The Dirty Dozen (1967)
  • Where Eagles Dare (1968)
  • Hell in the Pacific (1968)
  • The Devil’s Brigade (1968)
  • Battle of Britain (1969)
  • Patton (1970)
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
  • Force 10 from Navarone (1978)
  • From Here to Eternity (1979)
  • The Big Red One (1980)
  • Das Boot (1981)
  • Come and See (1985)
  • Empire of the Sun (1987)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • Stalingrad (1993)
  • Tuskegee Airmen (1995)
  • Life is Beautiful ((1997)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • The Thin Red Line (1998)
  • U-571 (2000)
  • Hart’s War (2002)
  • The Pianist (2002)
  • Windtalkers (2002)
  • Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
  • Days of Glory (2006)
  • Defiance (2008)
  • Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  • Son of Saul (2015)
  • Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
  • Dunkirk (2017)


Korean War

Often called the Forgotten War, movie makers – both here and in South Korea — have not forgotten.

  • Fixed Bayonets! (1951)
  • The Steel Helmet (1951)
  • The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
  • Sayonara (1957)
  • Men in War (1957)
  • Battle Hymn (1957)
  • Pork Chop Hill (1959)
  • All the Young Man (1960)
  • Red Scarf (1964)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  • Marine Battleground (1966)
  • M*A*S*H* (1970)
  • The Last Witness (1980)
  • Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)
  • Into the Fire (2010)
  • The Front Line (2011)
  • I Die Alone (2013)


Vietnam War & After

The second longest war in American history and one of the most divisive, these movies are instructive and varied.

  • Hearts and Minds (1974)
  • Rolling Thunder (1977)
  • The Deer Hunter (1978)
  • Coming Home (1978)
  • Go Tell the Spartans (1978)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • The Killing Fields (1984)
  • Heartbreak Ridge (1986)
  • Platoon (1986)
  • Hamburger Hill (1987)
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  • Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
  • The Iron Triangle (1989)
  • Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
  • Casualties of War (1989)
  • Indochine (1992)
  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • We Were Soldiers (2002)
  • Rescue Dawn (2006)
  • The Company You Keep (2012)
  • Last Days in Vietnam (2014)
  • The Post (2017)


Persian Gulf War

A lightening quick war, it led to some great films.

  • Courage Under Fire (1996)
  • The One That Got Away (1996)
  • Thanks of a Grateful Nation (1998)
  • Three Kings (1999)
  • Bravo Two Zero (1999)
  • Rules of Engagement (2000)
  • Love from Baghdad (2002)
  • Jarhead (2005)


Iraq, Afghanistan & Somalia

The longest war in the country’s history, it has left the screen open for some very popular films.

  • Black Hawk Down (2001)
  • Turtles Can Fly (2005)
  • Generation Kill (2008)
  • The Messenger (2009)
  • The Hurt Locker (2009)
  • Restrepo (2010)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
  • Act of Valor (2012)
  • Lone Survivor (2013)
  • American Sniper (2014)
  • War Machine (2017)
  • Thank You for Your Service (2017)
  • 12 Strong (2018)

 

As they say in the movie industry, that’s a wrap.


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