This list was contributed by Michael E. Hanlon, Research Editor of ø Relevance, the Quarterly Journal of ø The Great War Society.
THE GREAT WAR ON VIDEO
FILMS, DOCUMENTARIES AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS NOW AVAILABLE
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
Focuses on a German soldier's experiences at the front and
home on leave where he feels estranged. Powerful anti-war
statementwhich won the Academy Award for Best Picture in
1930.In the readers' poll this was still the top rated WW1
film of all time. Director Milestone served with Signal Corps
during the War.
THE BATTLE FOR VERDUN
FILMS FOR THE HUMANITIES, 1988
Originally produced in France, this documentary is now
available with an English narration dubbed-over the French.
The strengths of the film include letters from the parti-
cipants (some optimistic, some flat depressing) and visual
footage that shows the truth behind the letters. The stark
images of Verdun's legendary sites like the Voie Sacree and
Fort Vaux looking like it had been attacked by 100,000
sledgehammer wielding maniacs are haunting.
THE BIG PARADE
One of the greatest and most successful silent films.Story
focuses on a doughboy who must return home after being
BLACK AND WHITE IN COLOR
Fictional work using the Great War in Africa as a backdrop.
Contrasts attitudes of primitive natives to those of 'ci-
vilized' Europeans. Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
BLACKADDER GOES FORTH TELEVISION SERIES
The Blackadder Repertoire Company headed by Rowan Atkinson
in the title role spent several episodes sending up the
Great War, the British Empire, the high command and pro-
heroic sentimentality. Relentlessly hilarious until its
THE BLUE MAX
Excellent depictions of combat aviation action.Do not
pay much attention to the story. However, the acting of
James Mason and Jeremy Kemp is commendable. Available in
video. The book by the same title is more interesting and
the characters are much better developed.
LONDON FILMS, 1937
Spy and love story set in Sweden during the Great War.
Little historical value but a fair story and a look at young
Vivian Leigh. Reportedly available in video, but I haven't
THE DAWN PATROL
One of very few remakes considered better than the original.
This movie has inspired much interest in WW1 aviation.
Erroll Flynn, David Niven and Basil Rathbone are all terri-
fic. Singing tribute to the next man to die still feels
powerful. The 1930 version is also pretty good, however.
David Lean produced a trilogy on the days of the Great War.
Ryan's Daughter depicted the troubles in Ireland and
Lawrence of Arabia covered the Mideast.Dr. Zhivago depicts
the war on the Eastern Front, the Revolution and the Civil
War.The details of daily life and the impact of the
political struggles are more interesting than the central
character and his loves. One of the most visually pleasing
films ever made.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS
See this version rather than 1957 remake.Gary Cooper and
Helen Hayes add their magic to Hemingway's story of love and
the Great War on the Italian Front.
THE FIGHTING 69TH
Slightly silly and melodramatic film about the New York
Irish regiment that fought in France as part of the 42nd
Rainbow Division. Not history, but with all the movie stars
it employees, it's still entertaining.
Potent anti-war statement by Australian Director. Depicts
the classic haunting WW1 nightmare image of an infantryman
rising out of a trench only to be gunned down before he ever
sees his adversary.Not considered fully accurate
LA GRANDE ILLUSION
Considered by some the greatest film ever made.Within the
context of an exciting POW escape story, the viewer is
treated to countless insights on the human condition.Can
be seen over and over.
THE GUNS OF AUGUST
A feature length documentary that is somewhat based on
Barbara Tuchman's history by the same title. It's broader in
scope, but less detailed than the book.
HEARTS OF THE WORLD
Pro-war (actually, pro-US intervention) silent film by early
master of the medium that features reconstructed battle scenes.
The most memorable segment involves the Beast of Berlin himself,
the Kaiser. Features the Gish sisters, Lillian and Dorothy.
Earliest flying movie with sound.Undoubtedly has the feel
of an aviation spectacular - long on action, short on plot
credibility.This author's father was an extra in the fly-
ing sequences which were filmed over San Francisco Bay.
Little known [in America] anti-war work by the innovative
French director of "NAPOLEON".Famous for a scene of dead
soldiers rising from their graves. Temporarily out of print,
but video tapes are out there somewhere.
JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN
WORLD ENTERTAINERS, 1971
Thoroughly dismal story of a thoroughly disabled veteran.
Timothy Bottoms as the guest of honor.
KING AND COUNTRY
Underrated British film.A simple-minded soldier, played
admirably by Tom Courtenay, runs afoul of the authorities and
pays the ultimate price.
THE LAST COMMAND
VON STERNBERG, JOSEFPARAMOUNT, 1928
Outstanding silent work about former tsarist officer who
comes to the land of opportunity and gets a role in the
movies. Available in video. An Academy Award for Best Actor
went to EmiL Jannings for his portrayal of the ex-officer.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Seeing the longer 1988 re-edit leaves the viewer with a
better understanding of the Arab Revolt in the desert.But
regardless of the history lesson, this is one of the most
exciting movies ever made with a fantastic cast. Academy
LIFE AND NOTHING BUT
Moving French film that captures the dismal sense of post-
World War 1 France as the battlefields were being cleaned-up
and the families of missing in action searched for their
relatives' corpses. Excellent depiction of the selection
of the French Unknown Soldier at the Verdun Citadel.
Great action yarn about the Australian Light Horsemen who
charged Beersheba. Like the chariot race in "BEN HUR" the
charge is worth the price of admission itself.
MEN OF BRONZE
Excellent documentary about New York State's 369th all-black
regiment that fought with distinction on the Western Front,
usually under French command.This film was made when the
veterans were still very articulate and were able to take a
long look at their experiences. A favorite of this author.
NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA
SCHAFFNER, FRANKLIN J.
Beautiful epic film of the last days of the Romanovs.The
critics didn't like it because of its length, but if you are
interested in the period the time flies. Available in video
though not commonly seen in stores.
OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR !
The bad news is that this film of the play of the same title
doesn't hold together. A seaside amusement pier set used for
organizing the action on stage proves distracting in the
film. On the other hand, there are many excellent scenes
depicting life in the trenches, the 1914 Christmas Truce and
some hilariously vicious satire. Great music too. Not yet
available commerciallly, but can be caught on cable television.
PATHS OF GLORY
Powerful anti-war movie featuring Kirk Douglas and Adolph
Menjou. An infantry officer, a lawyer in civilian life, must
represent three men accused of cowardice. He must watch
almost helplessly as they are railroaded to their deaths.
The story of American left-wing journalist John Reed, Louise
Bryant and their adventures among Greenwich Village intel-
lectuals and in the Russian Revolution.Succeeds in giving
Hollywood glamourto one of the greatest catastrophes in
human history.The highlight of the film is the series of
revealing (often unintentionally) interviews with the Reed's
surviving acquaintances. Won Beatty an Academy Award as Best
THE RETURN OF THE SOLDIER
A soldier suffering shell shock presents an interesting
dilemma to his doctors.Little known, but powerful film.
Reportedly available in video.
Nearly a pro-war propaganda piece, this film helped prepare
the American psyche for the Second World War.Gary Cooper
won an Academy Award for his depiction of the Tennessee
Doughboy.The film focuses on York's maturing character
rather than combat.
UPSTAIRS / DOWNSTAIRSTELEVISION SERIES
LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION
BRITISH, FIRST SHOWN IN US 1974 - 77
The four TV-season long epic story of how the Bellamy
household, both the aristocratic types UPSTAIRS and the
servants DOWNSTAIRS, weather the social changes of the early
20th Century as accelerated by the Great War.Major James
Bellamy, his cousin and volunteer nurse Georgina, and family
footman and trooper Edward are all radically affected by
their struggles at the front. A great TV experience.
Generally very positive film treatment of the professor who
became President. Kind of boring, though.
Features exciting aerial and combat re-creations made with
unlimited surplus equipment, planes and extras. The story is
a little ridiculous, but who cares. Stars Buddy Rogers and
Clara Bow with an appearance by a young Gary Cooper.
WORLD WAR 1 TELEVISION SERIES
Distinguished, comprehensive treatmentof the War.Rates
high for writing, Robert Ryan's narration, film restoration
and the wonderful musical episode. Can be ordered on as a set
and is periodically reshown on cable television in the US.
THE YANKS ARE COMING
Excellent documentary film about the American involvement in
the Great War. Seems to be making the rounds of cable TV