This 1942 film is by far one of my favorites. I first saw it as a little girl (one of the myraids of old black and white films set during WWII that we checked out of base libraries) and loved it then. I was quite pleased therefore to find a copy floating around at a Goodwill store.
The film follows the lives of the Miniver family during the beginnings of WWII. The Minivers are a typical middle-class English family...the eldest son is enrolled in Oxford and is home on vacation when the war is announced--from the pulpit of the village church.
Soon the eldest son, Vin, is in the RAF and Mr. Miniver is part of the home guard. The war comes close to home with bombings, a downed German pilot, and the men of the village being called out in the middle of the night to asisst in the Dunkirk rescue (that is a pretty neat scene).
Underlying the main story is the sub-plot of Vin and Carol's romance and the rivarly between Lady Belding and Mr. Ballard's roses--incidently, Mr. Ballard named his prize rose the "Mrs. Miniver".
The basic worldview of this film seems to be Christian--the faith of the people is shown as being part of their lives. In fact, the opening music (and threaded throughout the movie) is that of one my favorite hymns "O God, Our Help in Ages Past". That is one of the underlying themes of the movie--evidenced by Mr. Ballard's Scripture quotation (out of Psalms, I believe). (He is a gentle, kindly man.)
The Miniver's are a typical middle-class English family, servants and all. They are a close-knit family, from a loving relationship between husband and wife to a friendship amongst siblings. Vin, the eldest, is a student at Oxford when the film opens. Mr. Miniver is the head of his house, the man to whom his wife turns when life gets complicated. They have a few playful moments that lighten some of the mood in the film.
The romance between Vin and Carol wasn't as "fast" as I had remembered (I guess 11-year-olds miss a few things). Vin had spent his childhood observing Carol, granddaughter of Lady Belding, so when the two of the get thrown together, it's not really unsual that he soon has feelings for her. Carol is a little more reserved about the idea, wanting to make sure he's serious before taking any definite steps. There is some kissing between them, but (spoiler) it's interesting to note that Vin asks Carol if it'd be 'okay' before he kisses her the first time.
Which brings up some observations about Vin's character growth (some of which can only be mentioned in the form of spoilers, so if you don't want that, skip this paragraph). Of all the characters, Vin Miniver has the most character growth. Upon his arrival home from school, he's cocky, somewhat self-important (though still a nice kid), and rather opinionated--he is rather ungracious in his declaration of certain ideas. His temper is both stoked and softened (in that order) by the kindly challenge given him to put his ideas into practice by Carol. [If I may mount a soap-box momentarily...this particular instance shows how girls can gently encourage young men to follow their vision rather than just have grand ideas in the relm of the intellect.] Vin apologies later for losing his temper, though not redacting his ideas (which is fine). By the end of the film, Vin has become a man--gentle, strong, and compassionate. We see him put aside his own grief, great as it is, to show love to a similarly grieving person. In his grief, Vin does not go off on some hair-brain sucidal mission (which is probably what one would see in a modern film), instead, we see him with his family, in church, listening to words of comfort and encouragement...and then singing "Onward Christian Soldiers".
The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There is scarcely a household that hasn't been struck to the heart. And why? Surely you must have asked yourself this question. Why in all conscience should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness. Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed? I shall tell you why. Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is a war of the people, of all the people, and it must be fought not only on the battlefield, but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home, and in the heart of every man, woman, and child who loves freedom! Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them. Instead they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves and those who come after us from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down. This is the people's war! It is our war! We are the fighters! Fight it then! Fight it with all that is in us, and may God defend the right.
I have included the words of the Vicar's closing speech in the bombed church--for these words are stirring and remind us not only of another battle we as Christians must daily fight, but that this was the reality for the people of the British Isles during WWII. Their civilians were bombed--old men, women, and children were killed. These people had an evil regime breathing down their throats and life was hard...and they held up bravely under it.
May God defend the right!
This series is great; a self-conciously Christian look at D-Day.
There are seven episodes: 1) The Theological Signficance of the Second World War; 2) The Strategic Overview [basically of the whole Western theater]; 3) The Theology of Leadership on D-Day [kind of a brief overview of each national, as well as military, leader]; 4) Deception, Intellegencee, and Spying for D-Day; 5) The Decision to Go; 6) The Men of D-Day and the Meaning of Manhood; and 7) The Aftermath.
Hosted by Douglas W. Phillips and William Potter (military historian extraordinaire), the series is shot in Rome, Normandy, London, and St. Andrews. There is some reenactment footage as well as an interesting use of clips from previously made films such as The Longest Day (1962) and Band of Brothers (2001). The use of actual footage is very widespread and I personally, like that aspect.
Naturally, some of the most special moments are those where the viewer sees and hears the veterans telling parts of their stories.
I highly recommend this and I look forward to watching it again!
The Search is a 1948 movie set at the close of WWII. It is about a little Polish boy who has been in a concentration camp for most of his life. He remembers very little. His mother has survived the war and she is looking for him. Meanwhile, he escapes from the UN people who are trying to locate kid's parents and vice versa. An American soldier (Steve) finds him...to say more would give the story away.
The music is really quite good, particulalry since this isn't a dialouge heavy film. One of the interesting features to the movie is that there is a female narrator (rather unusual I find, particularly for that era). The cinematography was really good (I thought).
I found The Search a very interesting, and thought provoking film. I had never considered before the number of orphaned, frightened, broken children there must have been after the war. Or the heartbreak of the parents who lost children and never did find them among the masses of ragged little ones coming out of concentration camps.
Another interesting feature of the movie is that it was filmed (at least partly) in Germany and therefore the viewer gets to see some of the distruction left by the bombing...it's pretty sobering.
I definitely would watch this one again.
I would classify this 1943 film as "war movie with a lot of comedy and a little romance". Destroyer is the story of the USS John Paul Jones II from the day her keel was laid to her acceptance as a fighting ship.
Steve Boleslavski (more commonly known as Boley), is an old has-been sailor with a long and interesting history--much of which we discover throughout the film. He "built" the second John Paul Jones and manages to get himself aboard the new ship as First Chief. In the process, he pushes out the younger Micky Donohue.
Old Navy and New Navy clash as the "Jonesy" goes out for her sea trials--twice. Regarded as unfit for duty, she's relegated to a mail carrier--much to the disgust of the crew. Lt. Commander Clark (the ship's captain and an old friend of Boley's), finds himself with numerous transfer requests on his hands.
Boley manages to save the ship--in a figurative sense and literally--twice simply because of his love for her and the Navy. His little history lesson about Captain John Paul Jones was really one of my favorite scenes.
(I persist in calling the ship "her" because it fits with the tenor of the film as the following quotation will show: When Kansas [played by the inestimable Edger Buchanan] asks Boley, "Why do you call a ship a 'she'?" Boley responds, "Because she's like a woman--she curves in the right places, wears a coat of paint, and squawks loud in an agrument.")
While Old Navy (Boley) and New Navy (Donohue mainly) butt heads, Commander Clark sets up a little scheme to try to get them to work together--knowing both are good men and could learn a lot from each other. The scheme includes Boley's pretty daughter Mary, who just adores her dad and knows that if he gets kicked off the "Jonesy" it would break his heart. Not to give too much away, the scheme doesn't work out exactly like it was supposed to....
All told, I really enjoyed this film. The story was quite engaging. There was character growth in both the main characters, Dad is not portrayed as dumb (maybe a little set in his ways, but not stupid), and of course, Edgar Buchanan provided plenty of humor as Kansas. Brave, sacrificial manhood is encouraged, even while the old sailor tells the scared kids that it's alright to be scared--and even to cry! "It'll do you good..."
No language, no gore, a small amount of kissing...See below for my one big area of 'issue-taking'--it's a spoiler.
Beware: spoiler! I don't agree with the "underhanded" way the Micky and Mary got married--most particularly Micky's chicken-ness in telling Boley about it. It's an example of how not to get married, even though there really was nothing wrong with the match so to speak--and if Boley hadn't been serving with Donohue, he probably would not have had any real objections.
This 1956 movie tells the story of one ship, the USS Belinda, and her men...
Captain Jeb Hawks boards his new command, an Attack Transport, to find the vast majority of his crew is green. His Lt., Dave McDougall, is a former Merchant Marine Captain who naturally finds some discomfort in being de-moted in order to join the Navy. Also among the crew is Ensign Krugar, a brave youngster who used to play football, Gilber Hubert, a Tennessee hillbilly (he provides moments of humor), and Commander Quigley--whom his fellow officers don't like because up to this point he's basically had a desk job.
There are a number of other characters who feature in their own moments, but the main story is that of Captain Hawks and Lt. McDougall along with Hawks' demanding, driving command of his ship.
Serving in the Pacific between 1943 and 1945 the ship's company deals with inept officers and men, the fact that their mail hasn't caught up with them, boredom, underwater mines, and Kamikaze's.
The movie is clean of profanity and gore. It does have some kissing in flashbacks scenes while Dave McDougall reads a letter from his wife. Also, in one of those, actress Julie Adams is dressed in a swimsuit--'modest' by today's standards but still lots of leg (same scene, McDougall is just in his short swim shorts--if that bothers anyone).
I found nothing really objectionable in this movie--it's pretty typical of a 50's film on WW2. The characters are men of honor (of if they are not they are not shown in a positive light). Capt. Hawks is a hard man; his 'aloof' behavior is at one point explained to the junior officers by former Capt. McDougall. He is also not a 'by the book' officer.
The scene with the Kamikaze's was quite well done I believe...I caught myself cringing as those flaming planes rushing down straight into the camera.
All told this is movie I would not mind watching again.
Produced in 1944 and starring Van Johnson as Ted Lawson, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a story of Doolittle's famous raid made in April 1942.
The story told in this film is also true...Ted Lawson is the pilot of a B-25 bomber. The story begins as he and his men are shipped to Eglin Air base in Florida to train for an extremely secretive mission. Which includes learning how to take off with only 500 feet of runway...
Ted's beloved wife follows him and we discover a blooming, solid relationship between the two. "Tell me honey, why are you so cute?" Ted asks multiple times. "So I could get such a good looking fellow..." Ellen always responds. This interchange is playful, but says much about them. Ellen is a wonderful military wife. She sends her man off with a smile, even while the tears lurk behind her eyelids. I very much appreciated this portrayal of an army wife. I also liked that the romance is between husband and wife. (There is enough kissing to cover the bases.)
After a successful bombing run, things go haywire...the rest of the story covers the men's return to the United States...along the way, they meet with rainstorms:
And some very kind Chinese:
Among the stars in this film are Robert Mitchum and Spencer Tracy as James Doolittle himself.
One gets the sense of actually being in the airplane during the flights...one can almost get motion sickness. Like many war movies of the era, it includes actual footage of the planes taking off, flying, and dropping their ordinance.
There is no language and nothing objectionable--unless you really cannot stand kissing in movies.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a fine movie. I give it a 5-star.
The Story of Dr. Wassell is based on a true story. The movie weaves together two threads of Dr. Wassell's life. The one is backstory, shown throughout the film as flashbacks. The second is the heroics of a humble country doctor turned Navy medical officer.
Dr. Wassell is a Navy doctor on the Island of Java when the Japenese land in 1942. The men under his care are sailors from the ships USS Marblehead and USS Houston. When the island is evacuated, only the walking wounded are shipped out. Dr. Wassell refues to leave, so with the remaining stretcher cases, he braves the coming trouble. Each of the wounded men have their own part in the story. Without them, The Story of Dr. Wassell would not exist.
The only material that might be objectional in this film is the Javanese girls clothing (which really isn't bad). There are only two instances of kissing and that isn't overly dramatic. There is no language and the blood and/or violence is very tastefully handled. The element of romance is several cases is probably very much Hollywood, though
for some reason I suspect based on actual fact.
I might not suggest this film for very young children--for starters they wouldn't understand everything going on--though they could certainly get a laugh out of sailor Johnny Leeweather's hijinks. I first saw this movie when I was upwards of 10 (I can't place it exactly) and remember finding certain scenes somewhat disturbing. Even now they are, but more because I understand the gravity of the situation, than out of childish upset.
There is one scene that some might object to where Dr. Wassell addresses a statue of Buddah...almost like he's praying. I am not sure really how that was intended by the either the character or the director, but I found it almost comical while also understanding that prayer to anyone or thing beside God is sinful.
While the story is of serious import, it does have the moments of humor that good directors always seem to manage to slip into their films to lighten a dark moment.
All told, this movie ranks up there among my favorites. I give it a 5-star for engaging story, clean language, acting, and special effects. Made in 1944, the special effects are outstanding. You honestly think you just saw the road explode into black dust when a bomb lands.
The Story of Dr. Wassell is a movie I certainly plan on watching again sometime....
The basic plot of this film is as follows: a platoon of American soldiers land on the beaches of Italy during WWII. Their assigned target--a farm house six miles inland.
A Walk in the Sun is a slow moving film. From the instant it opens until the second it closes, one gets the sense of the old Army cliche, "Hurry up and wait." However, I believe that is what makes this such a great movie. For those of my generation who have short attention spans, it might bore them, but if one really pays attention to the story--these G.I.'s morning "walk in the sun"--one easily gets emotionally involved with the characters and their own quirks. From the loquacious machine gunner from Brooklyn to the Sgt. who is really a farmer, the men make the story...they are the story.
This is very much a story of soldiers and their fears and how they face them. The men who have seen war and continue to fight--because they know they are right. I find this movie to grip me and hold me...I feel anxious with them and compassionate with them when one of the characters--a good soldier--completely breaks down.
This is a clean movie--there is no profanity and no gratuitous violence. There is some action, but nothing overly frightening. In other words, this is a film that a young child could watch (a family movie, so to speak).
Made in 1945 and starring Dana Andrews (among others), this film gets a 5-star rating from me. It is one of those movies one can watch multiple times and get something new out of it each time.
A Reformed Presbyterian girl who enjoys a good movie or a good book any ol' time.
Note: All images picked up online. No copyright infringment intended.