10 War Movies That Will Make You Cry

The heartbreaking realities of war are depicted in these 10 war movies that will make you cry. A successful war movie tells the story of the battles and the lives that were lost or changed forever. Starting with the Revolutionary War, every soldier has a story to be told and these 10 war movies tell those stories.

  1. “Saving Private Ryan”.  A 1998 film directed by Steven Spielberg and staring Tom Hanks. The film depicts a realistically disturbing view of the invasion of Normandy 1944. Captain John H. Miller and 6 Rangers are ordered to locate and extract from combat Private First Class James Francis Ryan, who is the last surviving brother of five. The movie is the story of that mission.
  2. “Schindler's List”. A 1993 Universal Pictures Steven Spielberg film starring Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, who wined, dined, and charmed the Nazis into giving him condemned Jews to work in his factory, which saved their lives. Impressively filmed in black and white and the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score. A must see.
  3. “The Dirty Dozen”. A classic 1967 war film with an all star cast, directed by Robert Aldrich starring Lee Marvin. Condemned prisoners are military trained to eliminate members of the German high command in Brittany just before D-Day 1944.
  4. “Mrs. Miniver”.  The vintage 1942 winner of 6 Academy Awards directed by William Wyler, starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. A story of how war touched the lives of an average middle class family living in a small community outside of London during the German Blitzkrieg.
  5. “From Here to Eternity”. Classic 1953 war drama and winner of 8 Academy Awards, directed by Fred Zinnemann. Staring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift. Army life at Schofield barracks on Oahu just prior to the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor. This film revived Sinatra’s film career and contains the most famous beach love scene ever filmed between Debra Kerr and Lancaster. Donna Reed is surprising playing a bar girl.
  6. “The Patriot”. A Revolutionary war film from 2000 directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Mel Gibson. War sweeps over Benjamin Martin, a widower farmer raising seven children. The story covers the family from the beginning of the war to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. Historically inaccurate but a compelling story of survival.
  7. “The Deer Hunter”. A classic 1978 all-start cast film that won 5 Academy Awards and was directed by Michael Cimino. The story follows three steel worker friends through their war experiences in Vietnam. The films touches on PTSD, mental illness, and the war’s affect on the families of soldiers. It contains Russian roulette scenes that were very controversial in 1978. This is one of Hollywood’s early attempts dealing with the Vietnam War.
  8. “In Harm's Way”.  Epic 1965 WWII film directed by Otto Preminger and starring John Wayne with an all star cast. The story follows US Navy Captain Rockwell Torrey starting with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Richly filmed in black and white and full of sub-plots telling the story of Americans caught up in a cruel war.
  9. “They Were Expendable”. Classic 1945 John Ford film starring John Wayne. During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941, brave American fought the invasion using PT Boats, with little support from the Navy, proving the small boats to be an effective weapon in war.
  10. “Casualties of War”. Disturbing 1989 Brian De Palma war classic starring Michael J. Fox as Private Eriksson. The film follows Private Eriksson in flashback through his military service in Vietnam. The story includes intense combat scenes and unstable infantry soldiers attempting to cover up their murder of a young Vietnamese girl they took captive and raped repeatedly. Eriksson is pressured to join the disturbing cover up.


Turner Classic Movies Guide and DVD Catalog, TCM 2008

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