US History at the Movies

These are films (and some tv movies and shows) showcasing elements of and people from American History. I'm sticking to ones that attempt to capture the history, rather than ones just set in a particular period. Surprise, surprise, there are a lot of war movies here.
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
Northwest Passage (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Langdon Towne and Hunk Marriner join Major Rogers' Rangers as they wipe out an Indian village. They set out for Fort Wentworth, but when they arrive they find no soldiers and none of the supplies they expected. (126 mins.)
Director: King Vidor
“ Adaptation of the Kenneth Roberts novel, which features the historical Roger's Rangers, who served during the French and Indian War. The novel is an excellent piece of adventure and the film captures the highpoints. features Spencer Tracy as Rogers, with Robert Young as the idealistic hero. ” - grendelkhan
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Three trappers protect a British Colonel's daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War. (112 mins.)
Director: Michael Mann
“ Michael Mann's adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper novel. There have been other versions, but I prefer this one. Set on the frontier, during the French and Indian War. This really works to authentically portray the period and earns big points for using actual Native American actors in key roles, something missing from many versions. ” - grendelkhan
The Bastard (1978 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Phillipe Charboneau is the illegitimate son of an English duke. When he travels from France to England to claim his inheritance... (240 mins.)
Director: Lee H. Katzin
“ First of the Kent Family Chronicles adaptations, set during the colonial period. ” - grendelkhan
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Newlyweds Gil and Lana Martin try to establish a farm in the Mohawk Valley but are menaced by Indians and Tories as the Revolutinary War begins. (104 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Set during the Revoulutionary War period and featuring Henry Fonda. One of the few films to really get into the dawn of the US. ” - grendelkhan
1776 (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence. (141 mins.)
Director: Peter H. Hunt
“ Film version of the musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It's campy as heck, but has some good moments. ” - grendelkhan
Johnny Tremain (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Johnny Tremain is drawn into the Revolutionary War, and becomes a patriot fighting to free the colonies from England. Along the way he learns about life and about himself. (80 mins.)
“ Disney film based on the Newberry Award-winning novel. Johnny is an apprentice silversmith, who is actually the lost child of a wealthy family. the film is kind of episodic, but Johnny is involved with the Sons of Liberty and aids Paul Revere, before joining the fighting at Lexington and Concord (I think it was the later; it's been a while since I've seen it). ” - grendelkhan
The Crossing (2000 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A dramatization of George Washington's perilous gamble of crossing the Delaware River and attacking the British forces at Trenton. (89 mins.)
Director: Robert Harmon
“ Jeff Daniels stars as George Washington, in this tale of the Crossing of the Delaware and the attack on the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton. It goes beyond the legend to get at both Washington the leader, and the politics that plagued the young Continental Army. ” - grendelkhan
George Washington (1984 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The early life and career of the American General and President through his participation in the Revolutionary War. (480 mins.)
“ Barry Bostwick stars as George Washington. The mini-series follows him from young(ish) man courting Martha, throught the Revolution and his Presidency. It tries to illustrate the true man (complete with infedelities) rather than the legend. Alexander Hamilton gets let off easy here, if you ask me. ” - grendelkhan
The Patriot (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son. (165 mins.)
Director: Roland Emmerich
“ This one pretty much chucked history out the window (Which is suprising, with a German director and Australian lead). First, Gibson's character doesn't own slaves, they are freemen who like working for him, in large numbers. Cornwallis is portrayed as an ineffectual fop, when he was an extremely experienced and capable general, as demonstarted in India. The film mixes elements of guerrilla fighters, like Frances Marion (and others) and drenches up the idea of Bandastre Tarleton as a butcher, which is a bit of an exaggeration (though he did have Patriot solders shot, though the Patriots retaliated by killing Loyalist prisoners). The film climaxes with what is essentially the Battle of the Cowpens, but misses some of the key strategy and leaves Daniel Morgan and his sharpshooters completely out of it. ” - grendelkhan
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A Disney-produced anthology covering many different genres. (120 mins.)
“ Disney series about Frances Marion. It was more legend than fact. ” - grendelkhan
Revolution (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
New York trapper Tom Dobb becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son... (126 mins.)
Director: Hugh Hudson
“ Al Pacino stars in this rather disjointed film about the American Revolution. Pacino was a bad choice, from a casting standpoint, based solely on ethnicity. ” - grendelkhan
The World Turned Upside Down (1973 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(60 mins.)
Director: Robert Guenette
“ TV movie about the American Revolution, focusing on the Battle of Yorktown. I saw it as a kid, but have only vague memories of it. ” - grendelkhan
The Rebels (1979 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Philip Kent(Andrew Stevens) takes part in the american revolution and the newly formed congress. (240 mins.)
Director: Russ Mayberry
“ Next chapter in the Kent Family Chronicles, moving the story to the revolution. ” - grendelkhan
“ TV sepcial, one of a short series, featuring the lives of notable First Ladies. This one focused on Martha Washington. ” - grendelkhan
The Buccaneer (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
During the war of 1812, Louisiana buccaneer Jean Lafitte assists the Americans in defending New Orleans against the attacking British war fleet. (119 mins.)
Director: Anthony Quinn
“ Historical film about the pirate Jean Lafitte and his eventual involvement in the Battle of New Orleans, at the end (after the treaty was signed!) of the War of 1812. Charlton Heston plays Andrew Jackson, while Yul Brynner is Lafitte. It stretches the truth quite a bit, but gets right the fact that Lafitte was betrayed and his base was raided. ” - grendelkhan
First Ladies Diaries: Rachel Jackson (1975 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(90 mins.)
Director: Ira Cirker
“ TV special that dramatized the life of Rachel and Andrew Jackson. I have vague memories of it, particularly a scene where Rachel tries out Andrew's pipes, but tries to hide it as she answers a maid's questions. The real Rachel Jackson did smoke a pipe. I seem to recall that it sugarcoated the Jackson's as slaveholders, but I might off on that one. ” - grendelkhan
Roots (1977 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A dramatization of author Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation. (570 mins.)
“ The saga of the family of Alex Hailey, from Africa to the post-Civil War. The book and the mini-series did much to illuminate the history of slavery to a mass audience and also stirred a desire to trace one's own family tree. Very well done and hugely popular. ” - grendelkhan
Amistad (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free. (155 mins.)
“ Little known story of a slave ship, where the slaves revolted and took over the ship. The ended up in America, where they were seized as runaway slaves. John Quincy Adams pled their case before the Supreme Court. ” - grendelkhan
Daniel Boone (1964 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Frontier hero Daniel Boone conducts surveys and expeditions around Boonesborough, running into both friendly and hostile Indians, just before and during the Revolutionary War. (60 mins.)
“ Fine tv series about the legendary frontiersman. I loved this series as a kid. ” - grendelkhan
The Seekers (1979 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The sons and grandchildren of Philip Kent make a life for themselves in America. (240 mins.)
Director: Sidney Hayers
“ The Kents head westward in this third movie. ” - grendelkhan
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case. (100 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Henry Fonda stars as Abe Lincoln, in this very popular chronicle of his younger days. It tends toward legend more than fact. ” - grendelkhan
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Humble Abraham Lincoln gains the respect of his Illinois neighbors, growing in stature and respect until he is elected President in 1860 and departs for Washington. (110 mins.)
Director: John Cromwell
“ Raymond Massey is well cast as Abe Lincoln, chronicling his younger days as a shopkeeper and lawyer in Illinois. ” - grendelkhan
Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Legends (and myths) from the life of famed American frontiersman Davey Crockett are depicted in this feature film edited from television episodes... (93 mins.)
Director: Norman Foster
“ Disney's legendary movie about the frontier hero and congressman. It stretches the truth a lot, but spawned a huge fad in the 50s. Fess Parker does a pretty good job with it. ” - grendelkhan
The Alamo (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In 1836, a small band of soldiers sacrifice their lives in hopeless combat against a massive army in order to prevent a tyrant from smashing the new Republic of Texas. (167 mins.)
Director: John Wayne
“ John Wayne's bloated film about the siege of the Alamo. History takes a back seat to the Duke. ” - grendelkhan
The Alamo (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Based on the 1836 standoff between a group of Texan and Tejano men, led by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna's forces at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. (137 mins.)
“ This was an attempt at a more historically accurate look at the Alamo and the Texas Revolution. ” - grendelkhan
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1977 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An innocent fugitive from the law lives in the wilderness with a grizzly bear companion and helps passers-by in the forest. (60 mins.)
“ Tv series (which debuted as a film) featuring the frontiersman. The series played loose with history, but Adams encountered many historical figures throughout. ” - grendelkhan
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians, and proves to be a match for their warriors in one-on-one combat on the early frontier. (108 mins.)
Director: Sydney Pollack
“ Robert Redford plays the mountain man in this historical film. ” - grendelkhan
The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Truncated adaptation of Stephen Crane's novel about a Civil War Union soldier who stuggles to find the courage to fight in the heat of battle. (69 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ Audey Murphey stars in this adaptation of the Stephen Crane novella. The film is very well done and Murphy understood the hero more than just about anyone. ” - grendelkhan
Gettysburg (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War. (271 mins.)
“ Valiant attempt at telling the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, with an all-star cast. It's an epic film, based on the novel The Killer Angels. ” - grendelkhan
Glory (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates. (122 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
“ The story of the 54th, a regiment of black soldiers, featuring Denzel Washington in an Oscar-winning role, Morgan Freeman in an Oscar-nominated role, and Matthew Broderick as the young white commander who is tasked to lead these men, even when some wished otherwise. Ironically, soon after the film came out, Hurrican Hugo uncovered evidence of the mass grave of soldiers of the 54th, after the failed siege of the Citadel. ” - grendelkhan
Lincoln (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
As the War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves. (150 mins.)
“ Recent look at Abe Lincoln and the Civil War, based on Doris Kerns Goodwin's "A Team of Rivals." Multiple Oscar winner. ” - grendelkhan
North and South (1985 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Two friends, one northern and one southern, struggle to maintain their friendship as events build towards the American Civil War. (561 mins.)
“ Mini-series set during the events of the Civil War. It's played for drama but did a decent job of capturing history. ” - grendelkhan
The Hunley (1999 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
CSS Hunley tells the incredible true story of the crew of the manually propelled submarine CSS Hunley... (94 mins.)
Director: John Gray
“ TV movie about the Confederate submerssible, which ultimately met a tragic fate. The Hunley was eventually located and salvaged and the mockup used for filming could be viewed at a temporary museum in Charleston, SC, where the excavation work was being accomplished. When I was a naval officer, I worked next door to the facility where the scientific work would later be done. ” - grendelkhan
How the West Was Won (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A family saga covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century - including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads. (164 mins.)
“ Epic saga of the westward expansion. History plays more of a back seat to the drama, but it's a fine film. ” - grendelkhan
Roots: The Next Generations (1979 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The dramatization of Alex Haley's family line from post Civil War America to the writer's search for his roots. (840 mins.)
“ Sequel mini-series, which follows the family of Alex Hailey, up to his research for the book, concluding with the discovery, in Africa, of the capture of Kunte Kinte. Like the original, it touches upon key moments in US and African-American history, including Simon Hailey's service in World War I, Alex Hailey's service in the Coast Guard in WW II, cultural figures like Booker T Washington, and much more. ” - grendelkhan
Tombstone (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A successful lawman's plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating. (130 mins.)
“ Somewhat more accurate version of the events at the OK Corral, though it goes with the legend when it is more colorful. It ignores the political squabbles between the Earps and people like the Clantons and Sherrif Beehan. ” - grendelkhan
Wyatt Earp (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Wyatt Earp is a movie about a man and his family. The movie shows us the good times and the bad times of one of the West's most famous individuals. (191 mins.)
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
“ Kevin Costner directs and stars in this bloated biopic of the lawman. It got lost in the wake of Tombstone. ” - grendelkhan
Wild Bill (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The early career of legendary lawman Wild Bill Hickock is telescoped and culminates in his relocation in Deadwood and a reunion with Calamity Jane. (98 mins.)
Director: Walter Hill
“ Jeff Bridges stars as the legendary gunfighter and lawman, set in his later days. Fine film, though a bit rough in spots. ” - grendelkhan
I Will Fight No More Forever (1975 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In a period when many thought that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian," Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce won the admiration of the American Public. (105 mins.)
“ Ned Romero stars as Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce. Grasping that his people will never stem the flow of whites from the East, Chief Joseph instead tries to lead his people into Canada, before illness and starvation finally stop them in their trek and the noble leader surrenders, uttering his famous words. The film does an excellent job in capturing this little known story. ” - grendelkhan
Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The story of the Apache chief and his armed resistance to the US Government's subjugation of his people. (115 mins.)
Director: Walter Hill
“ Wes Studi portrays the Apache warrior, focusing on his battles with the US Army, as well as the cavalry officers he came to respect. It mostly sticks to the facts, unlike the Chuck Conners film. ” - grendelkhan
Son of the Morning Star (1991 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The story of George Custer, Crazy Horse and the events prior to the battle of the Little Bighorn, told from the different perspectives of two women. (187 mins.)
Director: Mike Robe
“ Retelling of Gen. George Armstron Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn. A bit more accuracte than the Errol Flynn film. ” - grendelkhan
Little House on the Prairie (1974 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The life and adventures of the Ingalls family in the 19th century American Midwest. (60 mins.)
“ TV series, based on the novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder (or possibly her daughter Rose). The books and the series capture life on the plains, as well as many of the changes that would come to the young nation. ” - grendelkhan
Rough Riders (1997 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Undersecretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt resigns to form a volunteer militia unit called "The Rough Riders" to fight in the Spanish American War. (240 mins.)
Director: John Milius
“ TV movie about Teddy Roosevelt's famed command. Again, legend clouds things, though this attempts to be more accurate than many of these things. ” - grendelkhan
The Winds of Kitty Hawk (1978 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A beautifully photographed story that gives insight into the lives and accomplishments of the Wright brothers and the period in which they lived. (98 mins.)
Director: E.W. Swackhamer
“ TV movie about the Wright Brothers and their flight; plus events afterward, including patent infringement suit against Glen Curtis. ” - grendelkhan
The Sand Pebbles (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Engineer Jake Holman arrives aboard the gunboat U.S.S. San Pablo, assigned to patrol a tributary of... (182 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
“ Excellent film, set during the Boxer Rebellion in China, featuring a US gonboat caught up in events. ” - grendelkhan
Backstairs at the White House (1979 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Behind the scenes at the White House during eight administrations, as told by the people who work there. (540 mins.)
“ Excellent mini-series that looks at events covering the presidencies of William H. Taft, up to Dwight Eisenhower, told through the viewpoint of the African-American servants. Excellent cast, including Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett, Harry Morgan, and many more. ” - grendelkhan
“ This entry in the series focused on Woodrow Wilson's wife. When Wilson suffered a stroke, Edith sheltered him from outsiders and communicated decisions for the stricken president; effectively running the country. This event has seen much argument from historians. ” - grendelkhan
Sergeant York (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A marksman is drafted in World War I and ends up becoming one of the most celebrated war heroes. (134 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
“ The story of Alvin York, Medal of Honor winner in World War I and pacifist. The film was made as the US was about to enter another war, so it plays up patriotism, though it gets much of the story right. York was a true hero, who did what he had to, but took no pleasure in taking a life and shunned plublicity afterwards. ” - grendelkhan
The Fighting 69th (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end. (90 mins.)
“ Classic film featuring the story of the famous regiment in WWI, with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien. It's Hollywood, so take it with a grain of salt. ” - grendelkhan
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. (136 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
“ Early and excellent film, based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, which was inspired by Remarque's own experiences in WW I. One of the truly great anti-war novels and films. ” - grendelkhan
Paths of Glory (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them. (88 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ Stanley Kubrick's tale of madness on the French frontlines, based on actual events. Like All Quiet on the Western Front, it touches upon events that didn't involve the US, but were key to wars affecting the US. ” - grendelkhan
Von Richthofen and Brown (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The story of Manfred von Richthofen, the German air ace during World War I and his struggle with the enemy aces and some jealous German officers. (97 mins.)
Director: Roger Corman
“ Film based on the German ace and the man credited with shooting him down. It plays it a bit too much for drama, but features spectacular aerial shots. ” - grendelkhan
Hell's Angels (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Brothers Monte and Ray leave Oxford to join the Royal Flying Corps. Ray loves Helen; Helen enjoys an affair with Monte; before they leave on their mission over Germany they find her in still another man's arms. (127 mins.)
Director: Howard Hughes
“ Howard Hughes' epic film about aerial combat in WWI. It's played more for drama than truth. ” - grendelkhan
The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Charles 'Slim' Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing. (135 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ Greatly fictionalized but fun account of Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic. Jimmy Stewart was a real pilot (who flew bomber missions in WW2), which adds a great layer of authenticity. It's a little long, but full of great scenes. ” - grendelkhan
The Untouchables (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team. (119 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
“ Highly fictionalised account of the battles between Eliot Ness and Al Capone's mobs in Chicago. The truth wasn't as spectacular as the tv series or the movie. ” - grendelkhan
The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal (1979 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The story of a fire in the Triangle Shirt Mfg. Co. building in New York City in 1911 that resulted in the deaths of 146 employees... (120 mins.)
Director: Mel Stuart
“ TV movie, based on the tragic fire that claimed the lives of many workers. This was a key event in the early labor movement, spawning the International Ladies Garmet Workers Union. ” - grendelkhan
Eleanor and Franklin (1976 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, from early youth to his election as President of the United States, as told from Eleanor's point of view. (203 mins.)
Director: Daniel Petrie
“ Tv film about the courtship and marriage of the Roosevelts, covering his being struck down by polio and his burgeoning career in politics. Well cast and superby handled. ” - grendelkhan
Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during their 12-year stay at the White House. (155 mins.)
Director: Daniel Petrie
“ Companion piece to Ealeanor and Franklin, featuring the duo's work during the Depression and war years. ” - grendelkhan
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A true story of politics and art in the 1930s U.S., focusing on a leftist musical drama and attempts to stop its production. (132 mins.)
Director: Tim Robbins
“ Dramatization of Orson Welles and the Federal Theater Project, a program run by the WPA, which was designed to create employment for artists, writers and actors. The problem was that many of those involved had some radical ideas and put them into their productions, which angered a significant portion of Congress, who shut it down. To be fair, it was a major money loser. The film sides completely with Welles and the artists. ” - grendelkhan
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel, telling the story of the Joads and their migration westward, to California. The novel and film served to illustrate the upheaval of the Dust Bowl region, in the Great Plains (specifically, Oklahoma), created by crop failure and natural disasters (massive dust storms which stripped top soil), which displaced large numbers of people. It illustrates many of the battles between Left and Right, as the country grappled with the economic reality of the Depression and the social upheaval it brought. You see the "Hoovervilles," temporary camps of displaced people, on the fringes of communities, who reacted to them out of fear. You see people exploit the desperation of those in search of a better life, as well as those who want to help, including some of the New Deal programs. However, the film was attacked (as was the novel) as promoting communism and was banned in many areas. It is believed by some that Henry Fonda lost the Oscar to Jimmy Stewart because of the political content of this film, rather than the artistic merits. regardless, it's a great film and a tremendous performance by Fonda, who is "everyman." ” - grendelkhan
The Hindenburg (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A film that chronicles the events of the Hindenburg disaster in which a zeppelin burst into flames. (125 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
“ This is played through the lense of the "disaster film," which mars some of the historical details. It uses the WLS radio broadcast to recall the horror of the event. It does show, but doesn't make a strong point of depicting the fact that the majority of the passengers and crew survived. The British R101 disaster was far worse. ” - grendelkhan
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A series of mistakes made by the US Navy in the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor prove disastrous when Japan strikes. (144 mins.)
“ Film documenting the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, showing both sides. It's kind of long, but generally well done. ” - grendelkhan
Midway (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A dramatization of the battle that was widely heralded as a turning point of the Pacific Theatre of World War II. (132 mins.)
Director: Jack Smight
“ It's a bit long, but it captures well the stakes at the Battle of Midway. The US wouldn't have been knocked out of the war if it had gone the other way, but it would probably have drastically changed strategy, especially in the European theater. Generally good performances, with plenty of actual footage mixed in. ” - grendelkhan
Ike: The War Years (1979 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Made-for-TV biography of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. (291 mins.)
“ Robert Duval does an excellent job as Eisenhower, showcasing his diplomatic and leadership skills, while dancing around his relationship with Kate Sommersby. Very well done. ” - grendelkhan
Patton (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton. (172 mins.)
“ Grand, glorious look at the US' most flamboyant general, warts and all (though you might argue moe "all" than "warts"). George C Scott delivered an Oscar-winning performance. ” - grendelkhan
The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson (1990 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A film about the early life of the baseball star in the army and in particular his court-martial for insubordination regarding segregation. (100 mins.)
Director: Larry Peerce
“ A look at the racial injustices, via a dramatization of Jackie Robinson's court martial for refusing to give up his seat on a bus. ” - grendelkhan
The Longest Day (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view. (178 mins.)
“ Based on the Cornelius Ryan account of the invasion of Normandy, which not only focuses on the US at Utah and Omaha Beaches, but also the British airborne operation at the Pegasus Bridge and a little at the British landings. No joy for the Canadians, though. ” - grendelkhan
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure. (175 mins.)
“ Recounts Operation Market Garden, a failed attempt at seizing a bridgehead into Germany. The US sectors went fairly smoothly, until the assault on the Neimegan Bridge, but their losses were nothing compared to the British at Arnhem. This is not a "gung ho" film. ” - grendelkhan
First to Fight (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
In WW2, highly decorated Marine Sgt. Jack Connell comes home to the USA from the Pacific War and trains recruits for the army until his fighting spirit prods him to request a return to active duty on the front lines. (92 mins.)
Director: Christian Nyby
“ Chad Everett stars as a Marine hero at Guadacanal, but who finds himself struggling with PTSD back in the states. He soon finds himself leading troops again and must come to grips with his fears and lead his men. One of the few films covering this era that really looks at the toll upon the psyche, particularly in the more viscious combat zones. Gene Hackman appears in an early role. ” - grendelkhan
The Thin Red Line (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Adaptation of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War. (170 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
“ Adaptation of the novel, based on the author's experiences at Guadacanal. ” - grendelkhan
MacArthur (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Biopic of General Douglas MacArthur covering his war exploits during WW2 and the Korean War. (130 mins.)
Director: Joseph Sargent
“ Gregory Peck stars as Douglas MacArthrur. It's not exactly Patton, and is probably far more forgiving, but Peck is great. ” - grendelkhan
Battleground (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A squad of the 101st Airborne Division copes with being trapped in the besieged city of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. (118 mins.)
“ Excellent post-war film about a platoon who finds themselves caught up in the Battle of the Bulge. ” - grendelkhan
The Big Red One (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story of a sergeant and the inner core members of his unit as they try to serve in and survive World War II. (113 mins.)
Director: Samuel Fuller
“ Director Sam Fuller's masterpiece, based on his own experiences in WW II. The younger cast tries hard, but can't match the level of performance that Lee Marvin gives. There is little sentimental in this one. ” - grendelkhan
Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A hard-as-nails general takes over a bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape. (132 mins.)
Director: Henry King
“ Gregory Peck is the new commanding general of a B-17 Bomber group, with a high casualty rate. He must bring some leadership and confidence to the group to carry out their missions. Peck is excellent, as usual, and Dean Jaggers is also good as the adjutant who provides the point of view for the story. Excellent display for understanding the role of leadership in a military situation, as well as the toll that command can take. ” - grendelkhan
To Hell and Back (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The true WWII story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in U.S. history. Based on the autobiography of Audie Murphy who stars as himself in the film. (106 mins.)
Director: Jesse Hibbs
“ Audey Murphy stars in this account of his own experiences in WW II. Murphy was not only the most decorated soldier of the war, he was also one of the first to publicly talk about the mental toll that the war took upon him. ” - grendelkhan
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In the wake of Pearl Harbor, a young lieutenant leaves his expectant wife to volunteer for a secret bombing mission which will take the war to the Japanese homeland. (138 mins.)
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
“ The story of the Doolittle raid, not too long after it occured. It gets to the heart of the training that made the raid possible, which was more an exercise in morale boosting than a strategic or tactical victory. ” - grendelkhan
Objective, Burma! (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A platoon of special ops are tasked to parachute into the remote Burmese jungle and destroy a strategic Japanese radar station, but getting out isn't as easy. (142 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
“ Wartime film that looks at the fighting in the jungles of Burma, and area little detailed in many US history texts. ” - grendelkhan
The Sullivans (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The lives of a close-knit group of brothers growing up in Iowa during the days of the Great Depression... (112 mins.)
Director: Lloyd Bacon
“ Heartbreaking, but thoroughly patriotic account of the 5 Sullivan Brothers, who lost their lives at the same time, on the same ship. The film bends history to beef up the emotion; but, it's mostly factual. This one really hits home the toll taken by family members who could only sit at home and wait for news about their loved ones. ” - grendelkhan
The Tuskegee Airmen (1995 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The true story of how a group of African American pilots overcame racist opposition to become one of the finest US fighter groups in World War II (106 mins.)
“ Excellent HBO production (don't know why there is a PBS dvd cover here), which dramatized the training and battles of the legendary Tuskeegee Airmen, both in the skies and on the ground. Much better historical account than George Lucas' Red Tails. ” - grendelkhan
The Devil's Brigade (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
An American colonel who has never been in combat is assigned to create a special forces unit from Canadian Army troops and a ragtag group of U.S. Army misfits. (130 mins.)
“ Rather exaggerated account of the 1st Special Service Force, one of the precursors to the modern Special Forces. The unit was made up of US and Canadian soldiers, originally tasked with supporting an aborted invasion of Norway. The soon found use in the Italian campaign, where they established a legend at Mt La Defensa. The film gilds the lilly a lot, especially in depicting the American soldiers as mostly the dregs of the stockade. ” - grendelkhan
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A dramatization of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima. (100 mins.)
Director: Allan Dwan
“ This one is steeped in Hollywood, but still manages to pull in the audience, as it looks at the hell of Iwo Jima. ” - grendelkhan
Flags of our Fathers (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II. (135 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
“ Clint Eastwood directs this take on the Battle of Iwo Jima, based on the James Bradley account. Much more fact based than the John Wayne film. ” - grendelkhan
Farewell to Manzanar (1976 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Fact based drama about one of the internment camps used by the American military during World War II... (120 mins.)
Director: John Korty
“ Based on the book, this recounts life for the interred Japanese Americans, many of whom still volunteered to fight for a country that denied their citizenship. ” - grendelkhan
PT 109 (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
During WW2, Lieut. John F. Kennedy takes command of PT 109 to fight the Japanese in the Solomon Islands. (140 mins.)
“ Cliff Robertson stars as young Lt. John F Kennedy, in this account of the disaster that befell the crew and Kennedy's leadership in guiding their survival and rescue. The events have been subjected to much revisionism on both sides of the political spectrum, and this film is hardly without its bias; but, it's still a darn good film. ” - grendelkhan
Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb (1980 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Well-intentioned history lesson; the decision to drop the atom bomb, the secrecy surrounding the mission, and the men who flew it. (156 mins.)
“ TV movie which looked at the training for the fateful dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was pretty decent. ” - grendelkhan
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
This film reenacts the Manhattan Project, the secret wartime project in New Mexico where the first atomic bombs were designed and built. (127 mins.)
Director: Roland Joffé
“ Paul Newman stars in this account of the Manhattan Project. ” - grendelkhan
Swing Shift (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A woman finds romance when she takes a job at an aircraft plant to help make ends meet after her husband goes off to war. (100 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
“ Rather lightweight film about the homefront, during WW II. ” - grendelkhan
Zoot Suit (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A kind of musical accompanying the story of the early 1940's and the effect that the "zoot suit" (a man's suit of long jacket and pegged pants... (103 mins.)
Director: Luis Valdez
“ Little known film about a little known wartime event. Riots broke out between servicemen and largely Hispanic male youths, who wore zoot suits to go out on the town. The battles were basically racially motivated and law enforcement tended to punish to zoot suit crowd more than the soldiers. Ordinances were created to outlaw the attire, ignoring the heart of the problem. One of the milestones in the Latino experience of American culture. ” - grendelkhan
Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A U.S. sub commander, obsessed with sinking a certain Japanese ship, butts heads with his first officer and crew. (93 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
“ Still one of the better films about submarine life during the war, with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. ” - grendelkhan
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed. (170 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
“ Rarely seen film that was one of the few to deal with the aftermath of WW2. The film features a group of people who try to resume their lives after the war; but find that they have been changed too much. There is a myth that "the boys" came home and went back to their lives; but, that wasn't the case for many. Some had trouble finding jobs, others had problems with PTSD (though few talked about it, apart from Audie Murphy), many saw wartime marriages fall apart, and others had lost their purpose. Many had to discover a new life and put their war experiences into a mental closet. Many were perfectly fine. The point is, entertainment rarely tackled these ideas until a few decades later. This was 1946. ” - grendelkhan
Battle Circus (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Set in Korea and made during the war, this is the love story of a hard-bitten Army surgeon, and a new nurse ready to save the world. (90 mins.)
Director: Richard Brooks
“ Before MASH, there was this account of the mobile hospitals that helped reduce casualties. ” - grendelkhan
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The story of Preston Tucker, the maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry with his revolutionary car concept. (110 mins.)
“ Francis Ford Copolla and George Lucas brought this account of the maverick car manufacturer, who found himself under assualt by Big Auto. Jeff Bridges is excellent. ” - grendelkhan
Pork Chop Hill (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
During the Korean War peace talks, U.S. troops fight to retake a hill from the Communist Chinese forces. (97 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
“ Gregory Peck stars in this account of the Korean War, one of the few out there. ” - grendelkhan
MASH (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war. (116 mins.)
Director: Robert Altman
“ Based on the novel, which was based on the author's experiences in a MASH unit, during the Korean War. The film is more faithful to the book, though it is still more about Vietnam than Korea. The tv series took the liberties even further, though it was a fine piece of comedy and drama. ” - grendelkhan
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Set during the Korean War, a Navy fighter pilot must come to terms with with his own ambivalence towards the war and the fear of having to bomb a set of highly defended bridges. The ending of this grim war drama is all tension. (102 mins.)
Director: Mark Robson
“ Dramatizes attempts to destroy key bridges during the Korean War. ” - grendelkhan
Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur (1976 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
U.S. President Harry Truman and his commander in the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur, disagree on war strategy. Their conflict comes to a head when Truman relieves the insubordinate MacArthur from command. (101 mins.)
Director: Anthony Page
“ Excellent drama, built around the conflict between Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman. MacArthur and Truman played a dangerous game that threatened the long tradition of civilian control of the military. In the end, Truman won, cementing the idea that the military must always act as an extension of the civilian populace, not as a power unto itself. ” - grendelkhan
The Front (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In 1953, a cashier poses as a writer for blacklisted talents to submit their work through, but the injustice around him pushes him to take a stand. (95 mins.)
Director: Martin Ritt
“ Woody Allen stars as a man who becomes a "front," or stand-in, for a blacklisted screenwriter. The film documents the blacklisting of Hollywood actors, writers and directors (and others) due to political affiliations, in the height of the McCarthy era. The film was made with several people who were in fact blacklisted, which is why Allen did the film, even though he didn't write or direct it. ” - grendelkhan
Trumbo (2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. (124 mins.)
Director: Jay Roach
“ Bryan Cranston stars as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who found himself blacklisted in Hollywood, due to his politics. It features many of the figures on the Left and Right, in Hollywood and Washington and illustrates a dark era in American history, which rears its ugly head again, from time to time. ” - grendelkhan
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy. (93 mins.)
Director: George Clooney
“ Dramatization of Edward R Murrow's confrontation with Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy had built major power via attacks on alleged communist influences in America; but over-reached on two counts: attacking the US Army and taking on Edward R Murrow. Both had greater credibility with the American public and he lost those fights and ended his career in disgrace. David Strathairn does a tremendous job as Murrow, capturing his mannerisms and his style of speaking. It also demonstrates why CBS had the most respected news organization, until infotainment chipped away at it (arguably, when Walter Cronkite retired). ” - grendelkhan
Quiz Show (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A young lawyer, Richard Goodwin, investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charles Van Doren, a big time show winner, is under Goodwin's investigation. (133 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
“ Though a minor event in American history, it shows how greed has influenced entertainment in America. The film dramatizes the quiz show scandals of the 50s, where it was revealed that popular contestants had been coached on their answers to keep them on the air. In other words, the quizzes were rigged. It led to major investigations and tighter regulation of television, though not necessarily the manipulation of the audience, for ratings. ” - grendelkhan