Thursday, 1 September 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: World War Two



I struggled a bit with World War One films but now with World War Two, it seems I am spoilt for choice. There are so many brilliant stories about this time in history, I tried to vary the perspective.

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

Flame and Citron
Danish film based on real events, starring Denmark's finest, Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkelsen as resistance fighters, code named, Flammen and Citron, during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. An excellent story but also quite grim as you would expect for this time. Double crossing agents, attempted assasinations and the down fall. But at the end of the film, there is a note about the legacy of Bent Faurschou-Hviid (Flammen) and Jorgen Haagen Schmith (Citron) that brings hope.

A Matter of Life and Death
I had to include the marvelous piece of film that no doubt will be popular (I'm guessing). Beginning with the supposed death of Peter Carter, a British Royal Air Force pilot who, after speaking with June, an American radio operator based in England, jumps without a parachute from his plane. His 'guide' from Heaven misses him as he was lost in the fog. So the question is, should Peter be taken to Heaven or be allowed to live. Powell and Pressburger created a sprawling story that takes place in Heaven and Earth, with numerous people, to make one decision that could change two people's lives. Not to mention the beyond beautiful Heaven court 'room'. Watching it again, it made me think that it could have been made yestersay, in terms of story not production, although, the staircase scene is one of my favourites. The scene at the start of the film has influenced many a film, including Captain America.

The Aryan Couple
 I discovered the trailer to this film years ago and waited for the film's release but it was another wait for nothing. That was back in 2004. It seemed that the film didn't get a DVD release in ages, but I tracked down a copy eventually. In Germany,  Joseph Krauzenberg, a wealthy Jewish industrialist who agrees to hand over his wealth, homes and art collection to the Nazis in exchange for his family's crossing to Switzerland. Unknown to him, his two most trusted servants, a young married couple, Hans and Ingrid have been passing themselves off as Aryan when in fact they are Jewish and working for the resistance. When the Nazis arrive at Krauzenberg's home, the couple debate whether to kill the high ranking officers.

Had to mention... Memphis Belle
I have to make a special mention to Memphis Belle, mostly because I had planned for months on using it for this very theme but then forgot and started picking the others. I also think I used it before. I started watching this film about a crew of ten men on their 25th and final mission on their American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber plane, by accident and soon became hooked. Based on true events and real soldiers, the film has a great cast and its a rare 'feel good' war film. 

12 comments:

  1. Of these I've only seen A Matter of Life and Death which is a fascinating film though not by favorite by those filmmakers. A beautiful production though. I've also seen Memphis Belle which I liked but didn't love.

    Your other two picks sound intriguing especially The Aryan Couple. I'll have to try and track them down.

    Agreed that this week was much easier than the one dealing with WWI. I chose films that looked at those affected by the war as opposed to those directly fighting in it.

    To Be or Not to Be (1942)/To Be or Not to Be (1983)-As Hitler rises to power annexing portions of Europe life continues as usual at the Warsaw theatre owned by bickering married couple of renown, Joseph Tura/Fredrick Bronski (Jack Benny/Mel Brooks) “World famous in Poland!” and Maria Tura/Anna Bronski (Carole Lombard/Anne Bancroft). When the wife becomes enamored of a young flyer Lt. Sobinski (Robert Stack/Tim Matheson) they rendezvous while her hambone of a husband takes forever to get through Shakespeare’s soliloquy of the title. Suddenly Poland is attacked and the couple and their troupe of performers find themselves involved in the serious business of espionage to aid the war effort. The films, very similar in layout and execution, provide an interesting contrast in the way comedy about a serious situation can be played, the subtle almost gallows humor of Lubitsch and the broader stroke of Brooks. Both are successful though Lubitsch’s viewpoint is probably the more trenchant and timely. This was Carole Lombard’s final film, she was killed in a plane crash returning from a war bond tour the day before the planned premiere. The opening was delayed and her line “What can happen in a plane!” was excised (though it has been restored to current prints).

    The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)-Filmization of the young Jewess’s journal of her time hiding away with her family and assorted friends from the Nazis in a small attic apartment. Wrenching and sad but also full of observation about the human condition and a young girl’s journey toward adulthood. Shelley Winters won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work as the high strung Mrs. Van Daan.

    Confirm or Deny (1941)-During the London Blitz American war correspondent “Mitch” Mitchell (Don Ameche) will use any scheme-coastal wire, war orphan Albert’s (a thirteen year old Roddy McDowell) carrier pigeons etc.-to expedite news to his Stateside editor before anyone else. Meeting teletype operator Jennifer (Joan Bennett) on the night an air raid destroys his office he convinces her to let him use the machine, hidden in a hotel cellar, to send reports. Despite falling for him Jennifer argues with Mitch that his ambition to be first from the front is compromising intelligence work against the Nazis. When tragedy strikes he’s forced to question his methods, all the while New York keeps sending the same message over and over again, "Confirm or deny?”

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    1. To Be or Not To Be sounds good - different kinds of stories aren't hard to come by with this theme. Didn't Mel Brooks make a spoof of this?

      I've seen a few versions of Anne Frank but not this one. It's such a sad story made harder that we know she died a few weeks before release. I went to the house in Amsterdam which was just heartbreaking.

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    2. Mel Brooks did a remake, my recap lists both, but it's not a spoof. The layouts of the films are very similar which actually makes them a fascinating comparison view showing how two filmmakers can take the same material and through their different sensibilities spin them in unique ways while staying true to the source matter.

      I've also been to the Anne Frank Annex. A very moving experience.

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  2. I haven't seen any of these but they all sound so intriguing. The Aryan Couple sounds so different from what we're used to in WWII movies.

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    1. From the point of view of the Germans who weren't Nazis - it's quite terrifying they way they treated women. Using them to make an a aryan rave. Different from others, fresh perspectives.

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  3. You have really piqued my interest as I have not seen any of these. Never even heard of the first one. You make them sound awesome, so I'm willing to give them a shot.

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    1. Thanks! Glad they caught your interest - hopefully word will spread about them - the great thing about this week's theme is that there are so many films we're all bound to miss a few. I've certainly been adding films to my watch list from everyone else.

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  4. I can't believe I haven't seen nor heard of any of these. Now I'll add to add four more movies to my list.

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    1. Start with A Matter of Life and Death, some excellent scenes and story :)

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  5. I know the 2nd film as Stairway to heaven and loved it. It is so great with the colours and the styling of this film. I love the fantasy aspect of this film and that Niven stars in it since he was the first British actor from Hollywood who volunteered for combat duty. I also have seen the Memphis Belle which is quite good and I should take another look. I haven't seen the other 2 films but they are now on my list

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    1. AMOLAD is just of those that every cinephile should see. Stairway to heaven suits it too.

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  6. I've never heard of any of these -- they sound fascinating.

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