Your Coronavirus Quarantine Guide to Military Shows and Movies on Amazon Prime Video


You're stuck in your house or apartment because the movie theaters are closed, the bars and restaurants are shutting down, and you've been assigned to work from home.

How do you fill your days without bugging out? We're here to help.

It's a great time to have an Amazon Prime subscription. Not only can it deliver all the supplies you need for your isolation lifestyle, your subscription gives you access to an enormous library of streaming video.

Other services may be thoughtfully curated, but it seems like Amazon just went out and bought access to a wide variety of forgotten libraries. It has ended up with a wide selection that's both weirder and less organized than any other service.

There are forgotten TV shows from the '50s and '60s, drive-in movies from the '70s, and at least a superficial selection of old HBO series (including "Generation Kill," "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific"), Marvel movies, and Star Trek movies and TV shows.

We're here to focus on the military content, though, and Amazon has got a great selection.

1. Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan (2018-1019)

Neither season of Amazon's original series is directly based on the novels, but somehow John Krasinki's Jack Ryan is closer to the guy from Tom Clancy's books than any of the versions we saw in the (still quite good) movies.

The scenarios are updated for the 21st century, and there's plenty of action mixed in with the conspiracies that Jack must unravel to save the world. The show finds a perfect balance between excitement and low-stress distraction.

2. Sands of Iwo Jima (1950)

We all know that John Wayne would eat coronavirus for breakfast before spitting it back out and kicking its ass. In this classic, he's career Marine Sgt. John Stryker, tasked with whipping some new men into shape. They hate his guts but inevitably revere the discipline he instilled once they're sent to fight at Tarawa and Iwo Jima.

Wayne got his first Oscar nomination for this movie, and it's one of his best.

3. Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Jack Ryan wasn't the first CIA analyst to get forced into the field. In Sydney Pollack's "Three Days of the Condor," Robert Redford is Joe Turner, a CIA researcher who goes on the run after surviving an attack that killed everyone else in his office.

He kidnaps Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway) while he's trying to escape and convinces her that he's being hunted. She decides that he's telling the truth, and romance ensues. While he's on the run, Turner realizes he's uncovered a rogue CIA operation and decides to expose it to the world.

After Watergate, there was an excellent run of paranoid conspiracy thrillers ("Capricorn One," "Twilight's Last Gleaming," "The Parallax View," "Marathon Man"). "Three Days of the Condor" remains the best.

4. Man in the High Castle (2015-2019)

Based on Philip K. Dick's classic alternate history novel about an Axis victory in World War II, this four-season Amazon series blew through Dick's story in season one and spent the rest of its run elaborating and expanding things just suggested (and never really resolved) in the 1962 novel.

Like the best sci-fi movies ("Blade Runner," Total Recall" and "Minority Report") based on Dick's work, "The Man in the High Castle" uses his incredible ideas and tries to develop them in ways the author never had the patience to do himself.

In the show, Nazi Germany controls most of the East Coast and Midwestern United States, Japan has occupied the West Coast, and there's a sliver of unconquered land in the Rockies. A series of mysterious films suggest alternate realities than the one that all the characters are currently experiencing, and everyone wants to find out just what they mean.

Most Americans have adapted to life in a conquered state, but there are still a few who choose to resist their Nazi and Japanese overlords. Over four seasons (and 40 episodes), the producers get a chance to fully explore the world they've created.

5. Catch-22 (1970)

Director Mike Nichols' movie of Joseph Heller's 1961 novel doesn't quite nail the perfect mix of farce and tragedy that made the book a classic, but Alan Arkin's portrayal of Heller's anti-hero Capt. Y is never less than hilarious.

Following the made-up 256th U.S. Army Air Squadron's service on a remote island of the Mediterranean Sea, the story embraces every rumor about clueless commanders and double-dealing war profiteers you've ever heard. Not recommended for viewers who don't believe that military service can be both a noble sacrifice and ridiculous at the same time.

6. Downfall (2004)

You know the meme. Hitler's in his bunker, banging the table and yelling at his military advisers. People stand in the hallway crying. The subtitles suggest that the Führer is upset about a video game, sports team or movie plot. The joke is always funny.

Most people don't know "Downfall," the 2005 German movie that features the scene. Bruno Ganz gives a memorable performance as Hitler as he faces his final days and Germany's now-inevitable loss to Allied forces. Told from the perspective of his young secretary, the movie got some flack for portraying Hitler as a human being and not just the personification of evil. Of course, that's what makes the movie so fascinating.

7. Bob Hope -- Entertaining the Troops (1988)

Director Robert Mugge's 90-minute documentary features footage of actual performances from the comedian's USO tours from WWII through Vietnam, as well as interviews with several performers filmed in 1987.

8. Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)

Greatest submarine movie ever? Quite possibly. Clark Gable is a submarine commander, and Burt Lancaster is his in-your-face executive officer. Their mission is to sink a Japanese destroyer that has itself sunk four American submarines.

This one is scheduled to leave Prime Video on March 31, so put it at the top of your queue if you're interested.

9. Platoon (1986)

Vietnam veteran Oliver Stone won an Oscar as Best Director, and "Platoon" won Best Picture for this movie based on Stone's own war experiences. "Platoon" holds up remarkably well in spite of any distractions created by star Charlie Sheen's later public shenanigans. Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe both give memorable performances, and Stone never forgets his personal emotional connection to men who served.

This one is also scheduled to leave Prime Video on March 31.

10. The Great Escape (1963)

Allied prisoners of war plot their escape from a German POW camp during World War II in one of Hollywood's greatest war epics. Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, David McCallum, Donald Pleasence and Richard Attenborough star in a masterwork from John Sturges, one of our greatest action movie directors ("The Magnificent Seven," "Bad Day at Black Rock," "The Eagle Has Landed").

If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood," you'll remember that Rick Dalton was up for Steve McQueen's role as The Cooler King but lost out at the last moment.

"The Great Escape" is also scheduled to leave Prime Video on March 31.

11. Hell River (1974)

Speaking of "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood," the high point might be the outtakes from Rick Dalton's low-budget WWII exploitation movie "The 14 Fists of McCluskey." Amazon Prime Video is just loaded with the actual grindhouse movies that inspired Quentin Tarantino's entire career.

What did Rod Taylor think about his career when cast opposite Adam West in "Hell River"? Sure, it's awesome now that he got to play opposite TV's greatest Batman, but back then he was, you know, doing a movie with the washed-up guy who played Batman.

Still, they bravely fight their way through this flick about Yugoslav partisans taking on the Nazi invaders. Adam makes a great Nazi, and Rod growls with exceptional verve. Actual footage from "Hell River" is used for the fake war movies in "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood."

There are dozens of these trash classics streaming now, and you could spend a week just watching movies like "Operation Cross Eagles" (1970) with Richard Conte; "Heroes in Hell" (1974) with Klaus Kinski; "Hell Commandos" (1969); "Code Name: Wild Geese" (1970) with Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine; "Attack Force Z" (1981) with Mel Gibson; "Bomb at Ten:Ten" (1967) with George Montgomery; "The Legion of No Return" (1967) with Tab Hunter; "Commandos" (1979) with Lee Van Cleef; and "Hornet's Nest" (1970) with Rock Hudson.

That list barely scratches the surface of what's available, and there's a similar selection of low-budget European-made gangster movies, action pictures and heist movies from the era, all starring Hollywood folks who were having trouble finding work back home.

12. Red Dawn (1984)

Wolverines! Actual American teenagers fight the Soviet invasion of the USA in a small Colorado town. The adults are complacent and cower against the Red Menace, but a group of kids makes for the ultimate crew of guerilla fighters.

Co-written and directed by the great John Milius (writer of "Magnum Force," "Apocalypse Now" and "Clear and Present Danger"), "Red Dawn" is one of the greatest films of the '80s and puts the lie to complaints about "liberal Hollywood." It's the perfect Reagan-era movie, a flag-waving case for sacrifice and love of country.

"Red Dawn" is also streaming on Netflix. It's scheduled to leave Amazon Prime Video on March 31.

13. Overlord (2018)

American troops are parachuted into France to cut communication lines before the D-Day invasion but stumble upon a secret Nazi lab where the Germans are developing a serum to create indestructible supersoldiers.

Unfortunately, their experiments fail, and what we get instead is a horde of zombies who must be stopped before they change the outcome of the war.

14. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Based on author John LeCarré's classic espionage novel, the movie stars Richard Burton as a burned-out spy sent to East Germany to pose as a defector and spread disinformation to the communist government.

Burton, nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, looks burned out himself throughout the movie, and the film itself is notable as one of the last major movies shot in black and white. The somber mood is perfect for a movie about the conflict between the shadowy methods that espionage requires and the transparent values championed by democratic governments.

15. Force 10 From Navarone (1978)

Seventeen years after the Oscar-winning WWII movie "Guns of Navarone," we got a sequel with all-new actors because everyone from the first movie was now too old to play in a war movie.

"Put together a team and blow up a bridge" is pretty much a foolproof war movie plot, and this time we get Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Richard Kiel, Edward Fox and Franco Nero on the case.

Released one year after "Star Wars," this movie represents the last gasp for a certain kind of all-star, international adventure movie. Yeah, the genre may have been getting a bit creaky by the end of the '70s, but don't sleep on this one just because it's one of the last.

"Force 10 From Navarone" is also scheduled to leave Prime Video on March 31.

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