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Subject: War Movies, October 2016 rss

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Scott Gillispie
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Subscription Geeklist: War Movies Monthly Discussion - Subscription Geeklist

October’s schedule on TCM is leaning heavy on Halloween this year with lots of horror and monster movies; Christopher Lee is star of the month, and Frankenstein is ‘monster of the month’. Because of this, war movies seem to be off the schedule in the second half of October. Some good picks early on, however.

One I didn’t make one of my monthly four picks is Paths of Glory on October 8; I assume that TCM will do a big program around Kirk Douglas’ 100th birthday in December, so I’ll save it for then.

All times are US Eastern:
Oct 1, 6:30 am First to Fight (1967) Marines on Iwo Jima, with an early Gene Hackman in a supporting role. A couple of interesting casting notes: Bobby Troup and Chad Everett both appear – two of my favorite doctors from mid-seventies TV; and then there’s Claude (Sheriff Lobo) Akins and James (Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane) Best.

Oct 3, 8 pm Jinnah (1998) TCM’s schedule shows this as a war movie; I'm not sure about that, but I’m short this month and this looks interesting. Christopher Lee plays the founding father of Pakistan in this biopic.

Oct 4, 3:15 pm 55 Days at Peking (1963) Charlton Heston and David Niven fight the Boxer Rebellion. Ava Gardner as a Russian baroness in the compound. Flora Robson plays the Dowager Empress?

Oct 10, 1pm Cockleshell Heroes (1956) Jose Ferrer and Trevor Howard as Royal Marines in the canoes, headed up the Gironde for the shipyards.
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kevin halloran
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Scott, this months' offering seems to have sneaked by under the radar. I watched "First to Fight" not so long back but must have been on the vin rouge as I can remember very little of it and had confused it in my mind with the much earlier 1945 John Garfield movie, "Pride of the Marines". "55 Days" is always worth a watch. Two films I watched this week were "Fixed Bayonets" a pretty good Korean War movie with Richard Baseheart and the 1960s epic, "The Victors", which though star-studded and highly regarded, I didn't rate. The scene with the drunken Indian soldier in the turban in Sicily didn't ring true, the two blonde-bombshell German sisters were OTT and the last scene knive fight reminded me of West Side story.
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Scott Gillispie
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Watched the first half of First to Fight this morning...
- William Conrad is the producer, and does an opening narration
- Pretty strong opening scene - Chad Everett's character is the only survivor of a Japanese night assault on Guadalcanal.
- I recognized James Best by the 'Roscoe Coltrane' laugh.
- Bobby Troup sings his first songwriting hit, 'Daddy' (song was from 1941; Troup was about 50 when he made this movie)
- About a minute of Casablanca, basically directly inserted into the movie (they're in a movie theater). Yes, it's a Warner Brothers production...

So far, not terrible - the plots moving. No sign of Gene Hackman or Claude Akins yet.
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kevin halloran
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I have the "First to Fight" dvd in my hand and am about to watch it so will know more tomorrow. The best part of "Pride of the Marines" was the night action sequence on Guadalcanal with Garfield firing a machine gun at waves of Japanese. The scene has been pictured, with slight variations, in several movies and in the HBO series "The Pacific". The film was spoiled for me by JG's portrayal of an embittered GI blinded in this heroic action and acting like a royal pain in the ass thereafter.
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kevin halloran
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winheath wrote:
I have the "First to Fight" dvd in my hand and am about to watch it so will know more tomorrow. The best part of "Pride of the Marines" was the night action sequence on Guadalcanal with Garfield firing a machine gun at waves of Japanese. The scene has been pictured, with slight variations, in several movies and in the HBO series "The Pacific". The film was spoiled for me by JG's portrayal of an embittered GI blinded in this heroic action and acting like a royal pain in the ass thereafter.


Wow, spooky but as I placed the dvd in the player the film came back to me. It's a bit like the plot of the MOH winner in "The Pacific" who goes back to a non-combat role but is plagued by guilt. A major difference is that the hero's subsequent behaviour is compromised by his desire to return to his wife. Hackman plays a good role as a steady seen-it-all sergeant and things are resolved in a final bitter assault on a Japanese-held island, Pelelieu or Iwo Jima or Saipan?
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Bill Eldard
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winheath wrote:
. . . The best part of "Pride of the Marines" was the night action sequence on Guadalcanal with Garfield firing a machine gun at waves of Japanese. . . .


Agreed. Of the Hollywood war movies made during WW2, that sequence in the machine gun nest on Guadcanal is arguably the tensest, most realistic dramatization of combat.

winheath wrote:
. . . The film was spoiled for me by JG's portrayal of an embittered GI blinded in this heroic action and acting like a royal pain in the ass thereafter. . .


The film is the biography of Marine hero Al Schmid, and was written with his cooperation. While the plot builds slowly, beginning in Philadelphia before Pearl Harbor to set up the subsequent scenes, it does an excellent job of dramatizing how Schmid's combat-induced blindness changed his life. He did in fact go through a period of bitterness and self-pity, but the story ends on a positive note.

The film is indeed a war movie, but not in the traditional sense. It's about the lasting effects on those permanently damaged by war, and at that, I think it's the best film of its kind in the 1945 year group.

As a post note, Schmid eventually recovered a considerable amount of his vision years after the war. He had been awarded the Navy Cross for that night action on Guadalcanal.
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kevin halloran
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Bill, thanks for the input. Certainly any film with the beautiful Eleanor Parker in it is worth seeing. I seem to remember reading somewhere a note from a vet that the machine gun sequence in the film was the most realistic portrayal of the technical aspects of using the weapon he had seen in movies.
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kevin halloran
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Scott, could you tell me what are the implications of a Subscription Thread, how does one contribute and would I have to have access to TCM, as being in the UK, I haven't come across it? I am, though, very interested in war movies.
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Kevin, what I'm doing is setting up a thread each month for those of us who are movie nuts on here to discuss whatever war movies we've seen. I'm using as the original seed of the discussion each month four movies from TCM's US schedule, just because that's the most consistent source for war movies on TV here (plus TCM has a terrific movie database for getting more info about them). No one else on the thread should feel restricted by the four movies I bring up.

I also set up the geek list linked at the top of my original post, where I link each month's thread after I create the original post. This way, if you subscribe to the geek list, you'll get a notification when I get the new discussion thread open each month.

In addition, I think the Wargames forum is a great place to host this, because, in addition to being a corner of BGG that 90% of the gamers don't wander into, I like to think that we self-defined wargamers have a touch more historical context than the average BGGer (not sure if I mean 'age' by that...)

So, it's absolutely fine that you've wandered off topic from First to Fight to Pride of the Marines; I'm just glad that you're enjoying the discussion, as that's point of me setting it up each month!

 
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kevin halloran
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Thanks for that, Scott. I have been unsure previously about the "ground rules". I must say, your monthly thread is something I always look forward to and it's easier to contribute to than some of the threads: I'm still trying to live down recommending an "operational" naval game to someone looking for a "tactical" one!
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By the way, Scott, until I read your OP I had assumed that Kirk Douglas was dead and it's great to find out I was wrong. Paths of Glory is a masterpiece but to me almost unbearable to watch. I intend to watch another of his classics this afternoon, Seven Days in May.
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winheath wrote:
By the way, Scott, until I read your OP I had assumed that Kirk Douglas was dead and it's great to find out I was wrong. Paths of Glory is a masterpiece but to me almost unbearable to watch. I intend to watch another of his classics this afternoon, Seven Days in May.


You got me thinking about Kirk Douglas war movies, so I was skimming down his list...one that I can't believe I haven't seen is In Harm's Way; a Preminger film with just a massive cast. I think the reason I haven't seen it is that it's a Paramount film, so not automatically in the TCM library (which is based on the MGM library that Ted Turner bought 30 years ago, plus Warner Brothers). Paramount movies tend to show up less often now...looks like it might be accessible via the Starz streaming app; when I get a chance I'll check it out.
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Joe J. Rushanan
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scottgillispie wrote:

You got me thinking about Kirk Douglas war movies, so I was skimming down his list...one that I can't believe I haven't seen is In Harm's Way; a Preminger film with just a massive cast. I think the reason I haven't seen it is that it's a Paramount film, so not automatically in the TCM library (which is based on the MGM library that Ted Turner bought 30 years ago, plus Warner Brothers). Paramount movies tend to show up less often now...looks like it might be accessible via the Starz streaming app; when I get a chance I'll check it out.


Highly recommended. I just saw it on cable, so must have been Starz. It has several interesting characters (Kirk's is one, although not very pleasant). Burgess Meredith may be my favorite. Oh, and the film score is excellent.
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jjrbedford wrote:
scottgillispie wrote:

You got me thinking about Kirk Douglas war movies, so I was skimming down his list...one that I can't believe I haven't seen is In Harm's Way; a Preminger film with just a massive cast. I think the reason I haven't seen it is that it's a Paramount film, so not automatically in the TCM library (which is based on the MGM library that Ted Turner bought 30 years ago, plus Warner Brothers). Paramount movies tend to show up less often now...looks like it might be accessible via the Starz streaming app; when I get a chance I'll check it out.


Highly recommended. I just saw it on cable, so must have been Starz. It has several interesting characters (Kirk's is one, although not very pleasant). Burgess Meredith may be my favorite. Oh, and the film score is excellent.


The movie had a number of Hollywood legends from John Wayne to Henry Fonda to Dana Andrews, etc.

I remember an argument occurring between Preminger and Douglas about how they filmed the surface combat scenes. Douglas insisted (rightfully, I think) that they looked like they were shot in a kid's bathtub with toy ships.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It may be at that point that Preminger makes Douglas a rapist,and thus mortal.
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Bill Eldard
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jjrbedford wrote:
scottgillispie wrote:

You got me thinking about Kirk Douglas war movies, so I was skimming down his list...one that I can't believe I haven't seen is In Harm's Way; a Preminger film with just a massive cast. I think the reason I haven't seen it is that it's a Paramount film, so not automatically in the TCM library (which is based on the MGM library that Ted Turner bought 30 years ago, plus Warner Brothers). Paramount movies tend to show up less often now...looks like it might be accessible via the Starz streaming app; when I get a chance I'll check it out.


Highly recommended. I just saw it on cable, so must have been Starz. It has several interesting characters (Kirk's is one, although not very pleasant). Burgess Meredith may be my favorite. Oh, and the film score is excellent.


I'll offer a counter review of In Harm's Way. I've watched it several times, and consider it more soap opera than action war movie. The cast is fine, but the acting is so-so, and the special effects (i.e., the ship models and battle sequences) are so amateurish that even Kirk Douglas reportedly ridiculed them (as noted by TDMD).

In a way, it's a lot like the films made during World War II but without the same purpose, and with a few unsavory American characters thrown in for arguably more realism. Like most of those wartime flicks of the '40s, all the characters and locations are fictitious. It's even filmed in black & white like the WW2 films of 20 years earlier.
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