Top 10 World War II action films of all time

  • This forum has been quiet for a while now, so lets bring back an oldie but a goodie…


    1. Das Boot (The Boat)
    2. A Bridge too Far
    3. Saving Private Ryan
    4. Bridge on the River Kwai
    5. Tora, Tora, Tora
    6. Stalingrad
    7. The Longest Day
    8. The Battle of Britain
    9. Memphis Belle
    10. Midway


    The Cruel Sea
    The Bridge
    Enemy at the Gates
    Letters from Iwo Jima
    The Thin Red Line
    The Enemy Below
    Went the Day Well?
    Battle of the Bulge
    Hell is For Heroes

  • I nominate “Das Boot” to be on the list.

  • I nominate “Saving Private Ryan” to be on the list.

  • I nominate “Tora, Tora, Tora” to be on the list.

  • I nominate “The Battle of Britain” to be on the list.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    The Longest Day.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    The Cruel Sea.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Die Brucke (The Bridge).

  • 2019 2017 '16 '15 '13

    A Bridge too Far

    I’ve always liked Merrill’s Marauders, but I’m not sure if it would be in the top ten.

  • 2019 2017 '16 '15 '13

    The Guns of Navarone

    I think a John Wayne movie should be included so I’ll nominate  The Sands of Iwo Jima.

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    I nominate: Stalingrad

  • So we have 10 already, now we need to move them around and bump titles off the list if there’s better films not on it.

    I suggest we focus on WW2 movies that have a significant amount of battle scenes, therefore great films like “Schindler’s List” and “The Counterfeiters” would not qualify.

    @CWO Marc

    Is “The Bridge” better than any of your previous nominations?

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Enemy at the Gates?

    A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven)?

    Ice Cold in Alex?


    None of which are on the list yet, but which I think deserve consideration at least. That gives the problem of what to take off and how to decide.

    PS - I would have nominated “The Hill” but for the must have battle scenes guidance. Perhaps that same guidance takes out “A Matter of Life and Death”? Yet how can we have a top ten list without such a classic film being considered?

  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Battle of the Bulge

    The enemy below?

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10


    @CWO Marc
    Is “The Bridge” better than any of your previous nominations?

    All the films I nominated have in common (though to varying degrees) their sober, low-key, realistic and at times harsh depiction of WWII.  The Bridge is probably the harshest and grittiest of them; it’s very similar to All Quiet on the Western Front, the quintessential WWI anti-war movie.  So it’s hard to categorize any of my nominations as “better” than each other; they’re all good in different ways.  At the risk of giving a biased opinion, however, my feeling is that The Bridge is way better that The Battle of Britain and The Thin Red Line, which jointly hold the distinction of being the only WWII movies of which I never saw more than the first fifteen minutes because of how much I disliked them right from the start.

    I agree that Downfall (Der Untergang) would be a good choice too, for the same types of reasons I gave for my four suggestions.  Another one would be the 1949 film Battleground.

    I’ve seen lots of WWII movies that I think are great for various reasons (one of them being The Enemy Below, which aequitas et veritas mentioned), but things get tricky when the concept of “the greatest” starts to be considered.  For example, my absolute top-favourite WWII movie of all time is Midway, yet I’d be the first to admit that it’s not a cinematic masterpiece.  Conversely, Twelve O’Clock High is an extremely tough and gritty and thought-provoking WWII film…yet I didn’t like it personally and I’ve only watched it once, even though I have the DVD.  And one of the most shockingly brutal and uncompromising WWII fiction films ever made is a movie most people have probably never even heard of: “Went the Day Well?”, a 1942 British film by Ealing Studios.  It’s an astonishing and unforgettable film, but I wouldn’t call it “one of the greatest” because it’s a very modest production.

  • 2018 2017 '16 '15 Customizer

    Yeah, this topic does need some defining of terms. Having battle scenes - therefore being more of a war film than a wartime drama - is a good distinction YG.

    Battle of the Bulge is one of the least historically accurate and has probably the most generalized plot based on a historical event that I have ever seen. That said, I love the movie. The action is quite good, the scale is huge and the actors are great.

    It is a minor travesty that these two are not yet on your list:

    Patton  -  with how universally lauded and awarded this film is, it is an automatic and permanent inclusion in the top 10 of all time.

    Midway - I personally think this movie is excellent and the great use of real battle footage helps seal the deal. Fortunately my dad was able to tape it when it came on TV, so I got the pleasure of always watching the movie with the Battle of the Coral Sea included. It is simply not as good of a movie without that in it.

    Maybe we can nominate Christopher Nolan’s new film prematurely? While I have never thought the Battle/Retreat at Dunkirk to be as compelling as other aspects of the war, I am sure Nolan will easily make it into an excellent film.

    Oh yeah… how could I begin to forget:

    Kelley’s Heroes - No reasons required.

    Okay another glaring omission:

    A Bridge Too Far - This may be the biggest and most ambitious WWII film ever made. The legendary cast alone is ridiculous.

  • '16 '15 '10


    This forum has been quiet for a while now, so lets bring back an oldie but a goodie…

    (…and please, lets leave “The Thin Red Line” arguments for last)

    TOP 10 WW2 FILMS OF ALL TIME (under construction)

    1. The Battle of the Bulge
    2. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.
    3. The Guns of Navarone
    4. The Cruel Sea.
    5. Stalingrad
    6. The Longest Day.
    7. Das Boot (The Boat)
    8. Saving Private Ryan
    9. Tora, Tora, Tora
    10. The Battle of Britain

    Bridge on the River Kwai, The Thin Red Line and Downfall certainly belong on such a list.  Inglorious Basterds might be outside the Top 10 but deserves a nomination.  “The Pianist” is another fine film but doesn’t have much of a military component.

  • Customizer

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    The Train is a great film - I’d like to add that to my nominations too.

  • Thanks guys, had a tough weekend with my Aunt passing, but I will definitely review and edit list on Monday… keep up the great discussion.

  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Sorry to hear about your Aunt YG.

  • @Private:

    Sorry to hear about your Aunt YG.

    Thank you Private Panic.

  • @CWO:


    @CWO Marc
    Is “The Bridge” better than any of your previous nominations?

    I agree that Downfall (Der Untergang) would be a good choice too, for the same types of reasons I gave for my four suggestions.Â

    I’ve seen Downfall and it’s a great film… although it doesn’t meet the criteria for battle scenes.

  • List has been updated, do you disagree?… explain what should be different.

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