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Five All-Star War Movies

Five World War II epics featuring more stars than you'd find at a planetarium.


The All-Star Team: Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Rod Steiger, John Wayne, Curd Jürgens, George Segal, Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Ryan, Roddy McDowall, Kenneth More

The various battle scenes may be rather tame compared to the likes of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, but The Longest Day gives you a far better idea of just how large an operation the D-Day landings were. The film covers every angle of the invasion (the Allies, the Germans, the French resistance, etc) with three different directors (Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki) in charge of each section. Many of the film's stars were actual WWII vets who had seen action on the big day, with the obvious exception of John Wayne, who famously weaselled his way out of service and then had the nerve to demand separate star billing for this film.


The All-Star Team: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson

Director John Sturges reunited with three of his Magnificent Seven (McQueen, Bronson and Coburn) for this Bank Holiday classic. Based very loosely on real events, it follows the mass breakout in 1944 of British Commonwealth and America POWs from a seemingly inescapable German prison camp.


The All-Star Team: Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Robert Shaw, Edward Fox, Susannah York, Ralph Richardson, Ian McShane, Michael Redgrave, Curt Jürgens, Kenneth More

James Bond producer Harry Saltzman re-teamed with Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton for this tribute to the Few. Featuring a cast of old pros and young up and comers, it chronicles the conflict of 1940 where the RAF, running desperately short of pilots and planes, successfully fought off the superior might of the Luftwaffe to prevent the German invasion of Britain.


The All-Star Team: Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O'Neal, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell

Like The Longest Day, this was based on a book by Cornelius Ryan which was adapted by William Goldman. Directed by Richard Attenborough, who only took the job so he could secure funding for Gandhi, the film covers the colossal failure of Operation Market Garden, General Montgomery's overambitious (and horribly flawed) plan to secure key bridges in the Netherlands so the Allies could end the war by Christmas.


The All-Star Team: Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, Adrien Brody, Jared Leto, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte, George Clooney, John Travolta, Woody Harrelson,

When Terrence Malick came out of hibernation to direct his first film in 20 years, an adaptation of James Jones’s memoir of the Battle for Guadalcanal, every actor in Hollywood was fighting to be in it even if it was just for a few lines. The cast grew so large that several well known actors (Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Pullman, Gary Oldman and Mickey Rourke) either had their scenes left on the floor of the editing suite or had them scrapped entirely before they could be filmed.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. I must not watch a lot of classic war movies, because the only one of these I've seen is The Great Escape. Although I did see Saving Private Ryan.

  2. Battle of Britain also co-starred every flyable Heinkel 111 and Messerschmitt 109 (actually, Spanish copies built under license) that existed in the world at that time. No CGI back then, so you had to use real airplanes.

  3. If you take "The Great Escape" and mix in some "The Longest Yard", you'll get a movie I really like called "Victory"(sometimes "Escape To Victory"), about a group of POWs who are given the chance to form a soccer team to take on the Nazis in an exhibition game. It stars Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Max Von Sydow, and the legend himself - Pele.

    Of course, no list of movies that are even tangentially related to WW2 would be complete without Casablanca :)

  4. Gotta include Patton and Tora! Tora! Tora!.


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