The Enemy Below and Sink the Bismarck! form a double feature of semi-classic CinemaScope-era WWII naval dramas sailing from the Fox vault onto DVD for the first time. In The Enemy Below Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens are respectively captains of a US destroyer and a German U-boat whose vessels come into conflict in the South Atlantic. Both are good men with a job to do, the script noting Jurgens' distaste for Hitler and the Nazis and engaging our sympathy with the German sailors almost as much as the Americans. Made at the height of the Cold War of the 1950s, the film delivers a liberal message of cooperation wrapped inside some spectacular action scenes and a story that builds to a tense and exciting, moving finale. Sink the Bismarck! is a British film dating from three years later and adopts a more documentary style in recounting the race against time to track and destroy what was in 1941 the most powerful battleship then built, the Bismarck. Shot in gleaming black and white so as to make use of genuine WWII archive footage, the film is held together by the introduction of a fictional naval officer in overall command of the operation, played excellently by Kenneth More. To add some human warmth he is given a tentative romantic subplot with a WREN played by the luminous Dana Wynter. Though initially slow to gather steam, Sink the Bismarck! finally delivers an epic, thoroughly horrifying conclusion. On the DVD: The Enemy Below and Sink the Bismarck! come as a two-disc set with multiple language and subtitle options, including English for Hard of Hearing, but no extras other than the original trailers. These are presented at 16:9 and 2.35:1. Both are rather faded, but are fine examples of an era when watching the previews didn't guarantee a migraine. Both films are anamorphically enhanced in their original 2.35:1 CinemaScope, and, bar a little grain in some shots and the inevitably inferior archive footage, the picture quality is excellent. The Enemy Below boasts sturdy three-channel sound (left, front, right) while Sink the Bismarck! is in very well mixed stereo. --Gary S Dalkin
This Blu-Ray double-pack brings together Clint Eastwood's outstanding World War II double bill which tells the story of the battle for Iwo Jima from both sides. Flags Of Our Fathers February 1945. Even as victory in Europe was finally within reach the war in the Pacific raged on. One of the most crucial and bloodiest battles of the war was the struggle for the island of Iwo Jima which culminated with what would become one of the most iconic images in history: five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The inspiring photo capturing that moment became a symbol of victory to a nation that had grown weary of war and made instant heroes of the six American soldiers at the base of the flag some of whom would die soon after never knowing that they had been immortalized. But the surviving flag raisers had no interest in being held up as symbols and did not consider themselves heroes; they wanted only to stay on the front with their brothers in arms who were fighting and dying without fanfare or glory. Letters Of Iwo Jima The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi however does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates and resentment and resistance fester among his staff. In the lower echelons a young soldier Saigo a poor baker in civilian life strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese army itself all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength honor courage and horrors beyond imagination.
1977's A Bridge Too Far by director Richard Attenborough features an all-star cast in an epic rendering of a daring but ultimately disastrous raid behind enemy lines in Holland during the Second World War. A lengthy and exhaustive look at the mechanics of warfare and the price and futility of war, the film is almost too large for its aims but manages to be both picaresque and affecting, particularly in the performance of James Caan. The impressive cast includes Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Dirk Bogarde, Sean Connery and Liv Ullmann among others. While not a classic war film, it nevertheless manages to be a consistently interesting and exciting adventure. --Robert Lane
With the fate of Europe still hanging in the balance a disparate bunch of brave Mosquito pilots are ordered on a near suicide low-level mission to destroy a Nazi rocket fuel depot in Norway... To make the film which was based on a true story a squadron of legendary de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bombers was resurrected from near extinction. Dazzling flying sequences bone-shaking sound and superb special effects help to make this one of the most realistic air combat films ever to
Tom Cruise stars as a high ranking German officer, who along with a small group of peers hatches a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in an attempt to end the war.
A frighteningly real exploration of the tribal culture of football hooligans from the Brit director of "Goodbye Charlie Bright."
Seen through the eyes of a squad of American soldiers the story begins with World War II's historic D-Day invasion then moves beyond the beach as the men embark on a dangerous special mission. Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Faced with impossible odds the men question their orders. Why are eight men risking their lives to save just one? Surrounded by the brutal realities of war each man searches for his own answer - and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour decency and courage.
During World War II a British Commando raiding party who are despatched to Rhodes to destroy German airfields in a mission fraught with danger...
A contemporary re-invention of the 1951 classic in which Keanu Reeves portrays Klaatu, an alien whose arrival on our planet triggers a global upheaval. Available to own on DVD and Blu-ray Monday 20th April, 2009
The Army Game was a sitcom giant of its time and one of ITV's most popular shows. Created by Sid Colin it pre-dated the more famous Dad's Army by a number of years. A group of men serving out time as conscripts in the army are determined to dodge duty and derive maximum fun out of a situation they'd rather not be in. Because WWII was only 12 years passed and national service was very much a reality many viewers found they could identify with the characters and the situation they found themselves in.
During WWII a collection of Canadian soldiers and American misfits are brought together and promised that upon successful completion of a special mission their sentences will be struck off military records. The mission: a semi-suicidal charge to scale a well-fortified enemy emplacement on a steep hill...
Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts star in this new thriller which centres on one of London's most notorious organized crime families.
A brilliant take on the tragedy that beset his country, Danis Tanovic's directorial debut No Man's Land is a bleak comedy set during the war in Bosnia. The story begins as a group of Bosnian soldiers emerge from a fog to realise that they have strayed into a thin strip of land unclaimed by either side in the conflict. A bloody sequence of events ensues, which results in a disputed trench being occupied by weathered Bosnian veteran Branko Djuric and his opposite number, Rene Bitorajac's Serbian greenhorn. There's a standoff between them, complicated by Djuric's injured colleague lying atop a "bouncing mine". He's a human booby trap--move him and the everything within 50 yards will be blown sky-high. As the blue-hatted, ineffectual UN are called in, and with the world's media, led by the late Katrin Cartlidge as a rather snotty BBC reporter, swiftly arriving on the scene, this single trench becomes an almost Beckettian metaphor for the war. Tanovic is not especially concerned with taking sides in the Bosnian-Serb conflict. Whatever its causes, both sides are seen to be as bad, or more accurately as desperate, as each other. That it's hard, for outsiders in particular, to tell who's who much of the time only heightens the irony. There's anger at the media intrusiveness ("Does our misery pay well?" screams Djuric at the reporters), but what's really conveyed is a sense of the absurdity, futility and intractability of war, as summarised in the final image. From the grotesque mess of conflict, Tanovic has fashioned a perfectly judged and beautifully executed movie. On the DVD: No Man's Land is presented in widescreen with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack. There are no extras, other than an English language option for the hard of hearing. --David Stubbs
One of a series of revisionist Vietnam cinema released in the late 1980s, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket is essentially split into two stories linked by a number of characters. The film follows new recruit Joker (Matthew Modine) and his fellow soldiers through their basic training and into combat in Vietnam. The first half is a chilling portrayal of military brutality and de-humanisation, mainly at the hands of Sgt Hartman (played at a level of staggering intensity by ex-Marine Lee Ermey), that centres around the tragic character of Private Pyle, a young man pushed to the edge of his endurance. The tone of the film is no less harsh when transported to the combat zone as we see the results of the training process in action: the young men turned into unquestioning killing machines. Joker is perhaps the one exception, a soldier with "Born to Kill" written on his helmet who also sports a peace sign on his lapel. But the film finds itself caught in the trap of many of the war movies of the time--how to create audience empathy with characters who are essentially in the wrong. It's a dilemma that Full Metal Jacket never really solves, although as a spectacle the film is a masterpiece. Made in the days before CGI became the norm, the battle sequences--filmed, rather bizarrely, in London's Docklands before its redevelopment--are hugely realistic and are perhaps the key moments of the movie, heightening the disorientation and fear felt by the soldiers. By offering no more than a snapshot of the Vietnam conflict (the action deals with one individual skirmish), Kubrick cleverly leaves any judgement on the war to the audience, although clearly attempting to influence them. The fate of the characters who survive is also left in the balance, but we can perhaps imagine what awaits them. On the DVD: Part of a series of Kubrick DVD reissues, Full Metal Jacket has been treated to the full remastering and restoration treatment. The battle sequences have benefited the most, gaining a new audio and visual crispness and clarity that adds to their already impressive sense of realism--you can almost feel the heat searing from the screen and the explosions detonating around you. Maybe not the best war film ever made, as some may claim, but certainly one to take you right to the heart of the action. --Phil Udell
Based on an extraordinary true story, "Defiance" is the epic tale of family, honour, vengeance and salvation in World War II.
Taken from the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front is a devastating portrait of a small group of German soldiers during World War I. In this 1979 made-for-TV version the star-studded cast is lead by Richard Thomas (The Waltons) as Paul Baumer, strongly supported by screen veterans Ernest Borgnine, Ian Holm and Patricia Neal. As both narrator and star, Thomas occasionally seems to reincarnate his familiar John-Boy persona, but does at least succeed in creating a character that has more levels than his television alter ego. After watching all of his high school buddies loose their lives, Paul returns home a changed man, conflicted in his feelings about the Army and war, and altered from an idealistic schoolboy into a fearful and humble veteran. Although Lewis Milestone's 1930 films remains the cinema's definitive version, director Delbert Mann (Desire Under the Elms, Marty) has done a workmanlike job bringing the novel to the screen. The scenery and costuming in this period piece are well done, and surely contributed to its winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Made for TV. Also exceptional are the cinematography and special effects that, while realistically gruesome, truly emphasise the horrors of war. --Zachary Lively, Amazon.com
Submarine commander Duke Gifford feels guilty in the death of his former commanding officer, as well as about his failed marriage. These issues pull at him during a hazardous mission against the Japanese in World War II.
Because Hamburger Hill was released less than a year after Oliver Stone's Platoon and within months of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, this exceptionally well-made film about one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War was largely overshadowed and overlooked. It's a pity, because in some respects this is the best of the Vietnam films of the late 1980s, at least in terms of the everyday authenticity it depicts. Stripped clean of dramatically extraneous narrative, the movie opts instead for a straightforward approach to its day-by-day account of one of the war's costliest victories--a deadly siege on Hill 937 in the Ashau Valley, where soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division engaged the enemy over the course of 11 brutal assaults between May 10 and May 20, 1969. The film specifically follows the 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, a mixture of "new guys" and battle-weary "short-timers" who fought against terrifying odds and suffered a 70 per cent casualty rate. From first scene to last, Hamburger Hill traces the rise and fall of their battle experience, from the horror of fire-fights to the camaraderie of men who've faced death and survived. Racial tensions flare and subside, trusts are established and courage emerges from unexpected places. Through it all, writer Jim Carabatsos and director John Irvin maintain a purity of focus that pays tribute to the soldier's life without promoting false patriotism or gung-ho theatrics. In addition, the film features a cast full of talented and well-known actors in the early stages of their careers, including Dylan McDermott and Don Cheadle (Devil in a Blue Dress, Boogie Nights). Colour accuracy, image clarity and the explosive soundtrack have been remarkably preserved in a flawless DVD transfer, lending even greater immediacy to this underrated film. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
Two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith is not your average superhero in the summer blockbuster "Hancock", soaring onto DVD, Blu-ray and UMD Video from 1st December 2008, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
An espionage thriller set in WWII-era Shanghai, in which a young woman gets swept up in a dangerous game of emotional intrigue with a powerful political figure.
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