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Top 10 Love & War Movies: "Super" Alternatives, Part II
Tom Miller | January 17, 2007
As promised, we're back with more suggestions for alternative viewing during the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.  This week, we'd like to recommend our favorite love-and-war movies of all time.  If you get started now, you'll have plenty of time to watch all ten before the fat lady sings on Feb. 4.   While we have our favorite, we've decided to list the movies in alphabetical order.  All are available on DVD. 

 

The African Queen

            WAR:  During World War I in Africa, an unlikely couple—a drunken river boat pilot and an old-maid—conspire to blow up a German gunboat.

            LOVE: Another example of how opposites attract.  The slovenly pilot (played   with aplomb by Humphrey Bogart) and the straight-laced missionary's sister (played by Katherine Hepburn) slowly come to accept, respect, and love each other. 

            MISC.:  Bogart won his only Oscar (Best Actor) for this role.  The movie is ranked #17 on the American Film Institute's (AFI) list of "100 Greatest American Movies."

 

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

            WAR:  Follows the difficult and often painful return of three World War II veterans to civilian life.  Its themes of sacrifice and readjustment to peacetime are as timely today as they were in 1946.   

            LOVE:  All three principal characters—Al Stephenson, Fred Derry, and Homer  Parrish—have romantic issues.  Stephenson has to reconnect with his wife after a long separation;  Derry finds that his war bride fell in love with his uniform, not him; and Parrish, who lost both hands in the war, pushes his fiancée away.

            MISC.: Based on the novel Glory for Me, by MacKinley Kantor, the film won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), and Best Screenplay (Robert Sherwood).  #37 on the AFI's "100 Greatest American Movies."

 

Casablanca (1942)

            WAR: One of the great films and great love stories of all time, Casablanca is set  in North Africa in 1942 against a backdrop of wartime intrigue in a city crawling with Nazis. 

            LOVE:  At its heart, Casablanca features a bittersweet love story between two of motion pictures' biggest stars—Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  Scratch Bogie's tough, cynical exterior and you'll find a romantic.  Bergman is ethereal.

            MISC.:  The film won three Academy Awards including Best Picture.  #2 on the AFI list of "100 Greatest American Movies."

 

Dr. Zhivago (1965)

            WAR: Russia is wracked by war and revolution in this epic film based on Nobel  laureate Boris Pasternak's classic novel. 

            LOVE:  A Russian doctor/poet (Omar Sharif) who loves his wife also has a passionate affair with his mistress (Julie Christie).

            MISC.:  Won five Oscars including Best Screenplay and Best Music. 

 

The English Patient (1996)

            WAR:  Set against the backdrop of World War II in North Africa and Italy, this sprawling epic uses flashbacks to tell the story of an "English" patient who survives a fiery plane crash.

            LOVE:  The focus is on an adulterous affair between the "English" patient (Ralph Fiennes) and a newly-wed Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas).

            MISC.:  Winner of nine Academy Awards including Best Picture.

 

From Here to Eternity (1953)

            WAR: A searing account of army life in Hawaii on the eve of the Japanese attack based on James Jones' classic novel.  This is more Mars than Venus, but there's plenty of romance and a young Frank Sinatra.

            LOVE: There's an affair between a G.I. played by Montgomery Clift and a prostitute played by the usually chaste Donna Reed.  But, the reason to watch is the torrid affair between a sergeant (Burt Lancaster) and the nymphomaniac wife of his commanding officer (Deborah Kerr). 

            MISC.:  Won eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Fred Zinnemann) and Supporting Oscars for Sinatra and Reed.

 

Gone with the Wind (1939)

            WAR:  Based on Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War novel, Gone with the Wind has been described as an American War and Peace. 

            LOVE:  Features two of the most memorable characters in movie history—Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler who share a tempestuous love/hate relationship. MISC.: Another favorite of the American Film Institute (#4) and movie goers, Gone with the Wind has sold more tickets than any other film.  It was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards and won eight including Best Picture, Best Actress (Vivian Leigh), and Best Screenplay (Sidney Howard).

 

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)

            WAR:  Director Preston Sturgis' satirical look at World War II war brides and small-town values.       

            LOVE:  Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) entertains some troops on the night before they deploy and wakes up to discover that she's married one of them—she can't remember which—and is pregnant.  Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken), a local bank clerk who's 4-F and has an unrequited crush on Trudy, offers to help out.

            MISC: Sturgis also directed the classic WWII comedy "Hail the Conquering Hero."  "Morgan's Creek" was nominated for one Oscar: Best Original Screenplay (Sturgis).

 

Notorious (1946)

            WAR:  World War II is officially over, but many unrepentant Nazis have escaped to South America.  In the last of his four WWII—inspired films, the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, imagines a Nazi ring set up in Rio de Janeiro determined to carry on Hitler's work.  An American agent (Cary Grant) recruits the daughter of a convicted spy to infiltrate the ring. 

            LOVE:  The mole, played by the divine Ingrid Bergman, is notorious for her reputed promiscuity—a reputation that doesn't bother Grant's character until he begins to fall for her.   

            MISC:  Nominated for two Oscars including Best Original Screenplay (Ben Hecht)

  

On the Beach (1959)

            WAR: A Cold War classic that for those of us who lived through the 1950's and 1960's remains a chilling reminder of our worst fears.  Based on a Nevil Shute novel, it's set in post-apocalyptic Australia as the final survivors of a nuclear exchange await their inevitable fate and wonder how it all went wrong. 

            LOVE:  Gregory Peck plays an American submarine captain who has a brief, bittersweet affair with an Aussie beauty played by Ava Gardner.

            MISC.:  Nominated for two Academy Awards: Film Editing and Best Score.
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Copyright 2013 Tom Miller. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.

 
About Tom Miller

A former history professor, Tom Miller is a novelist and essayist. His most recent novel, Freshman Sensation (2007), is available from the publisher at http://www.ccjournal.com/. His reviews and essays have appeared in numerous books, journals, and newspapers, including The Encyclopedia of Southern History, American History Illustrated, the Chicago Tribune, and the Des Moines Register. He also is a former Army officer and Vietnam veteran.