“All Quiet on the Western Front”, the 1930’s film of the classic novel is by far the best. The plot revolves around Paul Baumer as a young draftee into the German Army as he tries to survive and adjust to the horrors of war. This is no clean and glorifying version of the war. In one memorable scene as the Paul’s unit storms through barbed wire, people are blown apart, one memorable and horrifying image is of two hands gripping the wire as the rest of the body is shot away.
1945’s “They Were Expendable” is another classic, starring the inestimable John Wayne and Robert Montgomery as the officers of a Motor Torpedo Boat (PT Boat) squadron in the early days of World War Two in the Philippines. Based on a book by the Medal of Honor Winner John Buckley, this movie is noted for its verisimilitude.
1959’s “Pork Chop Hill” also features a stellar cast, which includes Gregory Peck and Rip Torn. Also in the cast are several young actors that would later go on to be stars including: George Peppard, Harry Guardino, Robert Blake, Martin Landau, Gavin MacLeod and Harry Dean Stanton in a bit part. Based on the history book of the same name written by famed military historian S.L.A Marshall, the plot is about the bloody fighting on Pork Chop Hill at the end of the Korean War. Again this film is noted for its realism and attention to accurate detail.
1987’s “Hamburger Hill” was until “We were Soldiers” the best movie regarding Vietnam and it is still among the best. Featuring a cast that of then relatively unknowns that went on to become stars including Dylan McDermott, Steven Weber, Courtney B. Vance, Don Cheadle and Michael Boatman. The film tells the story of a platoon of infantry in the 3st of the 187th Infantry as they repeatedly assault the well fortified North Vietnamese position on ‘Hill 937′ or “Hamburger Hill”.
The number one best Veteran’s Day movie of all time has to be 1946’s “The Best Years of Our Lives”. A multiple Oscar winner, this movie follows three World War Two Veterans as they return to civilian life and try to adjust to post war America. The veterans and their families must cope with how the war has changed the men and how the men must now move on with their lives. Without a doubt “The Best Years of Our Lives” should be shown every Veteran’s Day.