Top 25 British War Films

We could argue all day about the definition of Britishness in war films but we all know what it means. This is the Think Defence list of the Top 25

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The definition of a British War Film is one that is largely British in character, they may have been directed by non-British directors, have non-British actors in the cast. and may even have been made in Hollywood or elsewhere, but they retain that element of Britishness that we all understand.

So no Das Boot, Saving Private Ryan or Apocalypse Now, sorry lads.

The judging criteria do not include historical accuracy, whether the correct buttons and rank insignia were worn, or whether the film is a ‘visceral and worthy portrayal of the realities of war’ or some other such artsy bollocks, instead, it is simply enjoyability for a wet Sunday afternoon in. 

It is not a list for the film buff, historian or the yoghurt-weaving wheatgrass smoothy types for them to bemoan the inhumanity and pointlessness of war.

Most of these have a back story that is as good as, if not better, than the film.

The Think Defence Top 25 British War Films

25

Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant (1980) Drama, History, War | 107min | July 3, 1980 (Australia) 7.9
Director: Bruce BeresfordWriter: Jonathan Hardy, David Stevens, Bruce BeresfordStars: Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John WatersSummary: During the Boer War, three Australian lieutenants are on trial for shooting Boer prisoners. Though they acted under orders, they are being used as scapegoats by the General Staff, who hopes to distance themselves from the irregular practices of the war. The trial does not progress as smoothly as expected by the General Staff, as the defence puts up a strong fight in the courtroom. —Kasper Sevaj <kaspsev@dorit.ihi.ku.dk>

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Watch it because…

A really good film, what else is there to say.

Major Thomas: The barbarities of war are seldom committed by abnormal men. The tragedy of war is that these horrors are committed by normal men in abnormal situations.

Edward Woodward and Bryan Brown are excellent.

The end scene, bloody hell, lip wobbling stuff

Learn more

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaker_Morant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaker_Morant_(film)

24

The Heroes of Telemark

The Heroes of Telemark (1965) Action, Drama, History, War | 131min | December 3, 1965 (United Kingdom) 6.5
Director: Anthony MannWriter: Ivan Moffat, Ben Barzman, Harold PinterStars: Kirk Douglas, Richard Harris, Ulla JacobssonSummary: Set in German-occupied Norway, this is an embellished account of the remarkable efforts of the Norwegian resistance to sabotage the German development of the atomic bomb. Resistance fighter Knut Straud (Richard Harris) enlists the reluctant physicist Dr. Rolf Pedersen (Kirk Douglas) in an effort to destroy the German heavy water production plant near the village of Rjukan in rural Telemark. In the process, Pedersen discovers that his ex-wife Anna (Ulla Jacobsson) and her uncle (Sir Michael Redgrave) have also joined the resistance. British commandos dispatched to destroy the plant are killed when their glider hits the mountainside at night. An improvised raid by the resistance ends in the partial destruction of the heavy water canisters, but the contingency plans of Reichskommissar Terboven (Eric Porter) enable the Germans to resume production quickly. Pedersen wants to recommend to London that the Allies bomb the plant. Straud opposes him because of the potential death toll on Norwegian civilians and a fight ensues. They send in separate recommendations, and the air raid takes place, but it fails to destroy the heavy water. A Norwegian traitor gives away the resistance hideout, and Anna's uncle is killed. The Germans load the canisters onto a ferry for shipment to Germany, and the resistance rig explosives to sink the ferry in the fjord. As the ferry is about to leave, it is boarded by the widow and baby of one of Pedersen's and Straud's colleagues. Pedersen boards the ferry and organizes a children's game of "lifejacket" in order to minimize civilian deaths. This movie closes with resistance members rescuing passengers as the ferry sinks. —Peter Grosvenor

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Watch it because…

The scenery, Kirk Douglas’ chin, and the bit on the boat with the kids, nail-biting. Not particularly full of memorable quotes though!

Terboven: Winston Churchill is puffing an extra big cigar today. And we laugh at him. Why? Because all these containers, which the British did so much to destroy, have already been pre-fabricated in Berlin. They are already on their way here and will be installed by tomorrow.

Nilssen: That is… I must say that is fantastic efficiency!

Terboven: Don’t you ever make the mistake of under-rating the Germans. By Easter we will have not merely 10000 pounds of heavy water, but 12000 pounds of heavy water.

An old school war film but one made especially interesting by the back story, Hitler’s aspirations for atomic weapons and the at all cost effort to thwart them.

A documentary

Learn more

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heroes_of_Telemark

http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1779

23

The Dam Busters (1955) Drama, History, War | 105min | July 16, 1955 (United States) 7.4
Director: Michael AndersonWriter: Paul Brickhill, Guy Gibson, R.C. SherriffStars: Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, Ursula JeansSummary: The British are desperate to shorten the length of World War II and propose a daring raid to smash Germany's industrial heart. At first, the objective looks impossible until a British scientist invents an ingenious weapon capable of destroying the planned target. —Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

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The Dam Busters

Watch it because

Special effects, questionable, but some classic quotes, the immortal Dambusters March music beloved of England football fans everywhere and the best Carling Black Label advert ever.

Official, Ministry of Aircraft Production: You say you need a Wellington Bomber for test drops. They’re worth their weight in gold. Do you really think the authorities will lend you one? What possible argument could I put forward to get you a Wellington?

Barnes Wallace: Well, if you told them I designed it, do you think that might help?

Perhaps best of all, it is a fairly unvarnished account of the actual operation.

And of course, that advert

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dam_Busters_(film)

http://www.timeout.com/london/film/the-dam-busters

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dambusters-raid-remembered

22

The Guns of Navarone (1961) Action, Adventure, Drama, War | 158min | April 28, 1961 (United Kingdom) 7.5
Director: J. Lee ThompsonWriter: Alistair MacLean, Carl ForemanStars: David Niven, Gregory Peck, Anthony QuinnSummary: In 1943, the British Navy is not able to rescue 2,000 soldiers trapped in the Island of Kheros since two powerful German cannons on the top of the Navarone Island are sinking the Allied vessels. After a failed aerial attack, the Allied command decide to send a six-man team disguised as fishermen to Navarone to blow-up the guns. The squad is commanded by Maj. Roy Franklin and composed by Capt. Keith Mallory, who is an experienced mountain climber, and his former partner Col. Andrea Stavros; the explosive expert Cpl. John Anthony Miller; the engineer CPO 'Butcher' Brown; and the Greek assassin Spyros Pappadimos, who was born in Navarone. They sail during the night and after an encounter with a German patrol boat and a storm in the sea, they arrive to Navarone and Capt. Mallory needs to climb a cliff face during a heavy rainy night to proceed their mission. Will they succeed? —Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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The Guns of Navarone

Watch it because

It is simply a classic.

The trailer

In musical form

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guns_of_Navarone_(film)

http://www.moviemistakes.com/film576

21

Hannibal Brooks (1969) Comedy, Adventure, War, Action | 101min | March 30, 1969 (United Kingdom) 6.6
Director: Michael WinnerWriter: Michael Winner, Tom Wright, Dick ClementStars: Oliver Reed, John Alderton, Michael J. PollardSummary: In WW2, captured British soldier Stephen Brooks is on a prison train to Germany.On the train he meets an American prisoner, Packy, who's obsessed with escaping.Brooks tries to temper Packy and reminds him that escaped prisoners are shot if recaptured.Packy is insistent despite Brooks' warnings. On arrival at the POW camp Stalag 7A, Brooks and other fellow POWs are sent to work at the local Munich zoo, to care for the animals.Brooks is assigned to care for Lucy the elephant.The German caretaker in charge of Lucy is asked to train Brooks in his new job.At first, Brooks hates the assignment, considering the large amount of animal waste to be cleaned daily.However, he eventually becomes attached to Lucy the elephant.After a devastating bombing raid that kills some of the animals and zoo staff it is decided to evacuate the surviving animals.Lucy is scheduled to be transported by train to Innsbruck, Austria.On the departure day, the train is commandeered by a moody SS Colonel, for his troops.The colonel jokes that Brooks can walk the elephant all the way to Austria, if he wishes.The joke gives Brooks the idea of walking the elephant to Austria, with two armed guards and a Polish maid as cook.The Munich Zoo director, worried for Lucy's safety, agrees to evacuate her and send her to Austria on foot.Two soldiers provide the armed guard.One is Willy,a friendly Austrian soldier, and the other is Kurt,a brutal German soldier who gets drunk often, insults everyone and threatens to shoot the elephant.The group leaves Munich on a sunny day but the voyage to Austria isn't a promenade in the park when they start running into trouble. —nufs68

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Hannibal Brooks

Watch it because

Not many would include this in a list but I like it, great performances all round, understated, and just an enjoyable film with a nice ending

It has an elephant in it.

The full film is also commonly available on YouTube

Learn more…

Not to learn to be honest!

20

Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World (2003) Action, Adventure, Drama, History, War | 138min | November 14, 2003 (United States) 7.4
Director: Peter WeirWriter: Patrick O'Brian, Peter Weir, John ColleeStars: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy BoydSummary: In April 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, H.M.S. Surprise, a British frigate, is under the command of Captain Jack Aubrey. Aubrey and the Surprise's current orders are to track and capture or destroy a French privateer named Acheron. The Acheron is currently in the Atlantic off South America headed toward the Pacific in order to extend Napoleon's reach of the wars. This task will be a difficult one as Aubrey quickly learns in an initial battle with the Acheron that it is a bigger and faster ship than the Surprise, which puts the Surprise at a disadvantage. Aubrey's single-mindedness in this seemingly impossible pursuit puts him at odds with the Surprise's doctor and naturalist, Stephen Maturin, who is also Aubrey's most trusted advisor on board and closest friend. Facing other internal obstacles which have resulted in what they consider a string of bad luck, Aubrey ultimately uses Maturin's scientific exploits to figure out a way to achieve his and the ship's seemingly impossible goal. —Huggo

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Master and Commander

Watch it because

Russell Crowe is actually very good in this.

Capt. Jack Aubrey: England is under threat of invasion, and though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship is England.

The Royal Navy giving the French a proper kicking, as is the law.

The lesser of two weevils

The trailer

The battle scene

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_and_Commander:_The_Far_Side_of_the_World

19

The Battle of Britain (1969) Action, Drama, History, War | 132min | October 24, 1969 (United States) 7.0
Director: Guy HamiltonWriter: James Kennaway, Wilfred Greatorex, Derek DempsterStars: Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Harry AndrewsSummary: Historical reenactment of the air war in the early days of World War II for control of the skies over Britain as the new Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force determine whether or not an invasion can take place. —John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

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The Battle of Britain

Watch it because

The story is of course well known, but this quote reveals the role of radar.

Senior civil servant: Churchill puts great faith in radar.

Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: It’s vital, but it won’t shot down aircraft.

Senior civil servant: Ha… well I must say you don’t, exactly exude a spirit of optimism.

Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: God willing we will hold out minister.

Senior civil servant: I see. So I tell the cabinet, that you’re trusting in radar and praying to God, is that right?

Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [chuckles] more accurately the other way round. Trusting in god and praying for radar. But the essential arithmetic is that our young men will have to shoot down their young men at the rate of four to one, if we’re to keep pace at all.

The few.

The trailer

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Britain_(film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_Britain

http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1691

http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/history-of-the-battle-of-britain.aspx

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-battle-of-britain

 

18

Dog Soldiers (2002) Action, Horror, Thriller | 105min | May 10, 2002 (United Kingdom) 6.8
Director: Neil MarshallWriter: Neil MarshallStars: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma CleasbySummary: A British Squad is sent on a training mission in the Highlands of Scotland against Special Operations squad. Ignoring the childish "campfire" stories heard about the area, they continue with their mission and come across the bloody remains of the Special Ops Squad, and a fierce howling is pitching the night sky… With two mortally wounded men, they make an escape, running into a zoologist by the name of Megan – who knows exactly what hunts them. What began as what they thought was a training mission turns into a battle for their lives against the most unlikely enemies they would have expected – werewolves. —Dismal Angel

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Dog Soldiers

Watch it because

Not technically a war film but I make the rules around here, an its is enjoyable portrayal of British soldiers anyway

One of the best lines in any film ever

I hope I give you the shits you fucking wimp

and

We are now up against live, hostile targets. So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch.

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_Soldiers_(film)

 

17

The Cruel Sea (1953) Drama, War | 126min | August 19, 1953 (United States) 7.5
Director: Charles FrendWriter: Nicholas Monsarrat, Eric AmblerStars: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, John StrattonSummary: At the start of World War II, Cmdr. Ericson is assigned to convoy escort HMS Compass Rose with inexperienced officers and men just out of training. The winter seas make life miserable enough, but the men must also harden themselves to rescuing survivors of U-Boat attacks, while seldom able to strike back. Traumatic events afloat and ashore create a warm bond between the skipper and his first officer. Atmospheric sea footage. —Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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The Cruel Sea

Watch it because

The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea…

Capt. Ericson: [after choosing a battle strategy that has cost lives] I had to do it!

Lockhart: Anyway, it’s all in the report.

Capt. Ericson: It was my fault!

Lockhart: I… I identified it as a submarine. If anyone murdered those men, I did.

Capt. Ericson: No one murdered them – it’s the war, the whole bloody war! We’ve just got to do these things and say our prayers at the end.

The scene where the Merchant Seamen are in the water and the U-Boat underneath them is brilliantly done, watch it just for that, being in charge is a lonely place.

The trailer

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cruel_Sea_(1953_film)

http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1771

16

Where Eagles Dare (1968) Action, Adventure, War | 158min | March 12, 1969 (United States) 7.6
Director: Brian G. HuttonWriter: Alistair MacLeanStars: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary UreSummary: During World War II, a British aircraft is shot down and crashes in Nazi held territory. The Germans capture the only survivor, American Brigadier General George Carnaby (Robert Beatty), and take him to the nearest S.S. headquarters. Unknown to the Germans, the General has full knowledge of the D-Day operation. The British decide that the General must not be allowed to divulge any details of the Normandy landing at all costs, and order Major Jonathan Smith (Richard Burton) to lead a crack commando team to rescue him. Amongst the team is an American Ranger, Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood), who is puzzled by his inclusion in an all British operation. When one of the team dies after the parachute drop, Schaffer suspects that Smith's mission has a much more secret objective. —Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

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Where Eagles Dare

Watch it because

Forget the historical nonsense, shocking voice procedure and sometimes comedy special effects, all can be forgiven for ‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’

Vice Admiral Rolland: Security? The word’s become a bloody joke!

The trailer

Oh Danny Boy

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_Eagles_Dare

http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1695

15

The Way Ahead (1944) Drama, War | 91min | June 3, 1945 (United States) 7.0
Director: Carol ReedWriter: Eric Ambler, Peter UstinovStars: David Niven, Stanley Holloway, James DonaldSummary: A group of draftees are called up into the infantry during World War II. At first, they appear to be a hopeless bunch, but their Sergeant and Lieutenant have faith in them and mould them into a good team. When they go into action in North Africa, they realize what it's all about. —Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

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The Way Ahead

Watch it because

Filmed before the outcome of WWII was certain it is an excellent study in wartime film making

We would have dug trenches and taken the Germans in the rear

Ooh-err

At the end of the film, instead of closing with ‘The End’ it instead shows ‘The Beginning’

An overlooked gem.

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_Ahead

A word from our sponsors, hosting bills don’t pay themselves you know, go buy something!

14

The Wild Geese (1978) Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller, War | 134min | November 11, 1978 (United States) 6.8
Director: Andrew V. McLaglenWriter: Reginald Rose, Daniel CarneyStars: Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard HarrisSummary: A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader. —Richard Young <richy@vnu.co.uk>

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The Wild Geese

Watch it because

Mr Vickers makes a guest appearance

The free-fall scene is also bloody fantastic.

Dumbledore Richard Harris, Richard Burton, Hardy Kruger and Roger Moore give great performances but they are all upstaged by Jack Watson playing RSM Sandy Young. Jack Watson served as a Royal Navy PTI during the War and eases into the overdone RSM role with familiar ease borne of ‘doing lots of shouting’

On your feet you fucking abortion

The actor that played the part of ‘Tosh’ was named Ian Yule, an ex Para and SAS soldier and Joan Armatrading does a pretty good theme song, what more could you want?

RSM Sandy Young

Theme song

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Geese

http://www.moviemistakes.com/film5377

13

The Great Escape (1963) Adventure, Drama, History, Thriller, War | 172min | July 4, 1963 (United States) 8.2
Director: John SturgesWriter: Paul Brickhill, James Clavell, W.R. BurnettStars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard AttenboroughSummary: Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist-type prisoners-of-war are all put in an "escape proof" camp. Their leader decides to try to take out several hundred all at once. The first half of the movie is played for comedy, as the prisoners mostly outwit their jailers to dig the escape tunnel. The second half is high adventure as they use planes, trains, and boats to get out of occupied Europe. —John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

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The Great Escape

Watch it because

What would Christmas be without it

An outstanding performance from each and every one of the actors, with a back story of equal measure.

Ramsey: Up the rebels.

Goff: Down the British.

The Cooler King and Von Luger’s butter?

Oh, and watching the RAF personnel wearing white socks with their uniform, priceless

The trailer

Learn more…

http://www.timeout.com/london/film/the-great-escape-1962

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Escape_(film)

http://www.thegreatescapelocations.com/

 

12

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Adventure, Biography, Drama, History, War | 228min | December 11, 1962 (United Kingdom) 8.3
Director: David LeanWriter: T.E. Lawrence, Robert Bolt, Michael WilsonStars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony QuinnSummary: Due to his knowledge of the native Bedouin tribes, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence is sent to Arabia to find Prince Faisal and serve as a liaison between the Arabs and the British in their fight against the Turks. With the aid of native Sherif Ali, Lawrence rebels against the orders of his superior officer and strikes out on a daring camel journey across the harsh desert to attack a well-guarded Turkish port. —Jwelch5742

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Lawrence of Arabia

Watch it because

Simply put, an amazing film.

Looks fantastic on the widescreen

T.E. Lawrence: So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.

This is what they mean when a film is described as epic

The trailer

The Attack

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_of_Arabia_(film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._E._Lawrence

11

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Adventure, Drama, War | 161min | December 14, 1957 (United States) 8.1
Director: David LeanWriter: Pierre Boulle, Carl Foreman, Michael WilsonStars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack HawkinsSummary: During WW II, allied POWs in a Japanese internment camp are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge, but under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson they're persuaded the bridge should be built to help morale, spirit. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of Japanese Commandant Colonel Saito, but soon they realise it's a monument to Nicholson, himself, as well as a form of collaboration with the enemy. —alfiehitchie

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Bridge on the River Kwai

Watch it because

A great big fat moral dilemma and a truly horrific back story, it does have a rather nice cantilever bridge though.

Colonel Nicholson: What have I done?

Alec Guinness, stiff upper lips all round, a 2″ mortar and the memorable end scene.

The trailer

The ending

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridge_on_the_River_Kwai

http://www.timeout.com/london/film/the-bridge-on-the-river-kwai

http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-battles/ww2/kwai.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1254168/Monsters-River-Kwai-One-British-POW-tells-horrifying-story.html

10

The Final Option (1982) Action, Thriller | 125min | September 16, 1983 (United States) 6.4
Director: Ian SharpWriter: George Markstein, Reginald Rose, James FollettStars: Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Richard WidmarkSummary: A trooper with the British Special Air Service (SAS) infiltrates a radical political group who are planning a terrorist operation against American dignitaries. A glamourized look at the methods and tactics of the famed British anti-terrorist squad.The SAS are a elite army unit which as well as its Anti terrorist role also performs covert and overt training of friendly countries armed forces and operates enemy lines. —Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

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Who Dares Wins

Watch it because

The music is great, it has SLR’s and a leading actor with a bit of a military background.

Colonel Hadley: When the SAS is called upon to do what we’re trained to do, we have been likened to a surgeon cutting out a cancer. It’s a filthy and difficult job. We don’t like doing it, but it’s our duty

Best of all, the original embassy re-decorators were closely involved including, if Wikipedia is to be believed, in a number of scenes. The final raid scene is brilliantly done, OK, so the ninjas hanging underneath the Scout helicopters might have been a bit far fetched but the rest is cracking stuff, including a visualisation trying to see out of an S6 respirator and the effects of Hatton breaching rounds. It didn’t receive great critical acclaim, especially from the Guardian, but yoghurt knitting sandal munching critics, what would they know. Did I tell you I was second man on the balcony!

The raid

The late great Lewis Collins

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Dares_Wins_(film)

9

Went the Day Well? (1942) Thriller, War | 92min | June 28, 1944 (United States) 7.5
Director: Alberto CavalcantiWriter: Graham Greene, John Dighton, Diana MorganStars: Leslie Banks, C.V. France, Valerie TaylorSummary: The residents of a British village during WWII welcome a platoon of soldiers who are to be billeted with them. The trusting residents then discover that the soldiers are Germans who proceed to hold the village captive. —Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

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Went the Day Well

Watch it because

Another wartime film, with obvious echoes in Dads Army and The Eagle Has Landed, like The Way Ahead, an overlooked classic.

This quote, unintentionally amusing;

You Germans are partial to sausage, aren’t you?

But watch it and you will not forget the teacher with the hand grenade scene or Dame Thora Hird dropping Germans with a .303

The trailer

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Went_the_Day_Well%3F

http://www.timeout.com/london/film/went-the-day-well

8

Warriors (1999) Drama, War | 175min | November 29, 1999 (United Kingdom) 8.2
Director: Peter KosminskyWriter: Leigh JacksonStars: Matthew Macfadyen, Darren Morfitt, Cal MacAninchSummary: After seeing devastating results of ethnic war in former Yugoslavia soldiers from UNPROFOR peace units find it impossible to return back to their civil lives in the UK.

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Warriors

Watch it because

Acclaimed drama documentary Warriors depicts British soldiers’ experiences as peacekeepers for the United Nations Protection Force during the Bosnian War (1992-95), the psychological impact of the atrocities they witness but are not allowed to stop, and their struggle to readjust to civilian life. Although the characters are fictitious and Bosnian scenes were filmed in the Czech Republic, the production team thoroughly researched real events such as 1993’s Ahmići massacre through interviews, documents, archive footage and a visit to Bosnia by director Peter Kosminsky and writer Leigh Jackson.

This is actually difficult to get hold of as it was a BBC film, made for TV, but it is a superb film and well worth seeking out. Some familiar faces, ‘before they were famous’

Learn more…

 

7

An Ungentlemanly Act (1992) History, War | 130min | June 13, 1992 (United Kingdom) 7.4
Director: Stuart UrbanWriter: Stuart UrbanStars: Ian Richardson, Rosemary Leach, Ian McNeiceSummary: Based on actual accounts, this film portrays the days and hours before and during the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina, which eventually lead to the Falklands War. As the Argentine forces land on the main island and make their way towards Government House, the British Royal Marines batten down the hatches and prepare to defend Governer Rex Hunt, his family and their fellow islanders from the invaders. —Alexander Lum <aj_lum@bigpond.com>

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An Ungentlemanly Act

Watch it because

The film has a couple of fantastic quotes

Why would anyone bother with half a million sheep and some seaweed

and my favourite

Lt. Quiroga: Mr Hunt… Time to give up Mr Hunt… your phone is cut off… armoured amphibious vehicles will be closing in soon!Mr Hunt,We have very superior numbers… I am sure you are a reasonable man… come out with your hands on head… alone!

Colour Sgt. Muir: Fuck off you spick bastards!

Quite

The trailer

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Ungentlemanly_Act 

6

Ice Cold in Alex (1958) Adventure, Drama, War | 130min | June 27, 1958 (United Kingdom) 7.8
Director: J. Lee ThompsonWriter: Christopher Landon, T.J. MorrisonStars: John Mills, Anthony Quayle, Sylvia SymsSummary: A group of Army personnel and nurses attempt a dangerous and arduous trek across the desert of North Africa during World War II. The leader of the team dreams of his ice cold beer when he reaches Alexandria, but the problems just won't go away. —Rob Hartill

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Ice Cold in Alex

Watch it because

The scene with the ambulance and the hill, spirit crushing, or not.

Capt. Anson: [draining his glass of beer] Worth waiting for.

The final scene used real lager and required multiple takes, they were mullered at the end!. Ultimately, a film about British fair play and determination, which is why it has such a satisfying ending.

The trailer

The advert!

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Cold_in_Alex

5

A Bridge Too Far (1977) Drama, History, War | 175min | June 15, 1977 (United States) 7.4
Director: Richard AttenboroughWriter: Cornelius Ryan, William GoldmanStars: Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Michael CaineSummary: The true story of Operation Market Garden, the Allies attempt, in September 1944, to hasten the end of World War II by driving through Belgium and Holland into Germany. The idea was for U.S. airborne divisions to take the towns of Eindhoven and Nijmegen and a British airborne division, reinforced by a Polish airborne brigade, to take the town of Arnhem. They would be reinforced, in due course and in turn, by the British XXX Corps, land-based and driving up from the British lines in the south. The key to the operation was the bridges, as if the Germans held or blew them, the paratroopers could not be relieved. Faulty intelligence, Allied high command hubris, and stubborn German resistance would ensure that Arnhem was a bridge too far. —grantss

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A Bridge Too Far

Watch it because

Two bridge related films in the Top 10, who would have thought it!

Corporal Hancock: Sir.

[Offers mug of tea]

Major General Urquhart: Hancock. I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?

Corporal Hancock: Couldn’t hurt, sir.

[Urquhart accepts his mug of tea]

Watch it because; it has a Bailey Bridge, an incredible storyline and the fact that it had pretty much every actor of the day in it.

The trailer

The Germans surrender

The Red Devils of Arnhem

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bridge_Too_Far_(film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Market_Garden

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_arnhem.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/battle_arnhem_01.shtml

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/30056/ww2_market_garden.pdf

http://www.rememberseptember44.com/rs44.htm

https://paradata.org.uk/events/arnhem-operation-market-garden

4

Kilo Two Bravo (2014) Adventure, Biography, Drama, Thriller, War | 108min | November 13, 2015 (United States) 7.1
Director: Paul KatisWriter: Tom WilliamsStars: David Elliot, Mark Stanley, Scott KyleSummary: In September 2006, a 3 man patrol of Paras sets off from their outpost overlooking Kajaki Dam in southern Afghanistan, to engage the Taliban. As they make their way across a dried out river bed one of them steps on a mine left from the Russian intervention some 25 years before. His colleagues rush to his aid only to find they are surrounded by mines and every move threatens serious injury or death. —Andrew de Lotbiniere

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Kajaki

Watch it because

A story told with no sentimentality or commentary on some of the more obvious issues it raises

Spud McMellon: This country’s full of shit left behind when armies fucked off, Russians, it was the mines. Ten million fucking mines. God knows what we’re going to leave behind.

It is called Kilo Two Bravo for US audiences, but don’t let that put you off. A humbling story of brave men and a brilliant film, whichever way you put it.

The trailer

A documentary

Learn more…

http://kajakimovie.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kajaki_(film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kajaki_Dam

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/03/kajaki-reel-history-british-army-afghanistan

3

Carry On… Up the Khyber (1968) Adventure, Comedy | 88min | December 12, 1968 (United States) 6.8
Director: Gerald ThomasWriter: Talbot Rothwell, LarryStars: Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Charles HawtreySummary: Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond looks after the British outpost near the Khyber Pass. Protected by the kilted Third Foot and Mouth regiment, you would think they were safe. But the Khazi of Kalabar has other ideas. He wants all the British dead! But his troops fear the "skirted-devils"; they are rumoured not to wear anything underneath. Then one is caught with his pants on… —Simon N. McIntosh-Smith <Simon.N.Smith@cs.cf.ac.uk>

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Carry On… Up the Kyhber

Watch it because

Just soak up the glorious late sixties era humour, Welsh scenery and the devils in skirts!

Captain Keene: [news of the native revolt arrives] What do you intend to do, sir?

Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond: Do? Do? We’re British. We won’t do anything…

Major Shorthouse: …until it’s too late.

Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond: Exactly. That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said all day.

The dinner party scene, one of the funniest pieces of cinema ever

The trailer

The dinner party

Learn more…

2

Guns at Batasi (1964) Drama, History, War | 103min | September 25, 1964 (United Kingdom) 7.1
Director: John GuillerminWriter: Robert Holles, Leo Marks, Marshall PughStars: Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora RobsonSummary: Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale (Sir Richard Attenborough) is a by-the-book, strict disciplinarian, who seems like an anachronism in a sleepy peacetime African outpost of the modern British commonwealth. Ridiculed behind his back by his subordinate N.C.O.s, he must play host to a liberal women M.P. making a tour of the base. However, when an ambitious African officer, who happens to be a protegè of the M.P., initiates a coup d'etat against Captain Abraham (Earl Cameron), the lawful African commandant, the resourceful Sergeant Major uses all of his military training to save his men from a certain firing squad. —Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

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The Guns at Batasi

Watch it because

Without doubt the best portrayal of an RSM ever seen on screen (although perhaps a bit hammed up), a fantastic performance by Richard Attenborough

Headress, in the mess, perish the thought!

Mr. Boniface! I’ve been a member of this Mess for 23 years, Sir. In all that time I’ve never seen anybody, man, woman or child, Sergeant, Warrant Officer, Field Marshal or Prime Minister walk into this mess with his hat upon his head. I do not see you now, Sir.

The trailer

See the clip, at about 3 minutes 40, RSM Lauderdale tears Mr Boniface a new one!

Finally, in a scene that will be familiar to anyone who has ever dared not to salute and officer whilst in the presence of an RSM.

Learn more…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns_at_Batasi

1

Zulu (1964) Drama, History, War | 138min | June 17, 1964 (United States) 7.7
Director: Cy EndfieldWriter: John Prebble, Cy EndfieldStars: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla JacobssonSummary: Zululand, South Africa, 1879. The British are fighting the Zulus and one of their columns has just been wiped out at Isandlwana. The Zulus next fix their sights on the small British outpost at Rorke's Drift. At the outpost are one hundred fifty British troops under the command of Lieutenants Bromhead and Chard. In the next few days, these one hundred fifty troops will fight about four thousand Zulus in one of the most courageous battles in history. —grantss

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Zulu

Watch it because

Forget the outrageous slurs on the good character of Private Henry Hook (who was a model soldier and campaigning tee-totaller) and Commissary James Langley Dalton (who was the most experienced soldier at the mission station and widely credited with initiating the defence)

Singing, bayonets

And

Forget British War Films, this is the best War Film full stop, in fact, forget War Films, Zulu is without a shadow of a doubt, THE best film ever made

The best bits are far too many to list.

Colour Sergeant Bourne: It’s a miracle.

Lieutenant John Chard: If it’s a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it’s a short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 calibre miracle.

Colour Sergeant Bourne: And a bayonet, sir, with some guts behind.

The trailer

The final scene is, as the kids say, awesome

So there you go, so many great films not on the list, and perhaps a few unforgivable omissions, lets have at it in the comments!

Learn more…

 

 

Honourable mentions…

There are so many great films that didn’t make the cut.

Contact, The Hill, Waterloo, Too Late the Hero, The Eagle Has Landed, Sink the Bismark, The Battle of the River Plate, Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Dunkirk, We Dive at Dawn, The Cockleshell Heroes, They Were Not Divided, 71, Reach for the Skies, 633 Squadron Dunkirk and 1917.   

See you in the comments

 

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