The 76th anniversary of D-Day is June 6; here we celebrate with 11 classic movies about World War II. While sheltering at home, get out your handkerchiefs and experience the uplifting power of our historic triumph over seemingly unbeatable foes.
Battle of Britain (1969)
The Royal Air Force keeps the Nazi Luftwaffe from crossing the English Channel and invading England. A must-watch for armchair pilots who live for aerial dogfights and vintage planes, and for fans of stars Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Laurence Olivier and Ian McShane.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg earned an Oscar for best director for this heart-thumping drama that grips right from its visceral 24-minute opening scene of the D-Day storming of Omaha Beach. The inspiring Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his small platoon infiltrate enemy lines to rescue Private Ryan (Matt Damon) after his brothers have died in battle.
The Longest Day (1962)
John Wayne leads an all-star army (Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Richard Burton, Robert Wagner, Rod Steiger, Sal Mineo and Sean Connery) in a sprawling Oscar winner that tells the gut-wrenching D-Day story from the dual perspectives of the Allies and the Germans.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
Tough-as-nails Marine Sgt. John M. Stryker (John Wayne) grits his teeth, gets the girl (1940s pinup star Adele Mara) and beats the Imperial Japanese Army in the pivotal Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Who was even tougher than John Wayne? Lee Marvin as Major Reisman, commanding 12 violent felons (including Ernest Borgnine, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas and Jim Brown) out to assassinate Nazi officers meeting at a French château.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
The Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, gets the play-by-play treatment. Amazing aerial dogfights and terrifying kamikaze runs compete for screen time with devastating naval battles in the 1970 Oscar winner that stars Martin Balsam, Jason Robards, So Yamamura and Tatsuya Mihashi.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
David Lean's epic seven-Oscar-winning ode to the power of human survival is a thrilling, character-driven movie set in a British POW camp in Japanese-occupied Burma. Alec Guinness and William Holden plot to sabotage a strategic bridge to thwart their captor (Sessue Hayakawa).
George C. Scott won one of the film's seven Oscars for his galvanic performance as the most profane, volatile, unpredictable — and also among the most brilliant — of World War II generals.
The Great Escape (1963)
In a rousing, fictionalized rendition of a real 1944 Allied POW breakout from a camp 100 miles from Berlin, a dashing Steve McQueen leads a band of daredevil soldiers (James Coburn, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and David McCallum) who plot their mass escape via an ingenious tunnel system.
Das Boot (1981)
In the hit that made him a top Hollywood talent, German director Wolfgang Petersen did something no Hollywood movie had ever done: make viewers see the war through the eyes of the German submarine crews, three-fourths of whom died in battle. It's a gripping psychological thriller conveying the claustrophobia, tedium and terror that besets the U-boat denizens being led by the brilliant actor Jurgen Prochnow.
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Another epic based on real events, director Richard Attenborough's massive go-for-broke adventure follows the Allies on Operation Market Garden, the impossible 1944 air and land mission to dismantle critical bridges behind enemy lines. The cast is superb: Dirk Bogarde, Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Elliot Gould, Anthony Hopkins, and Liv Ullmann.