Whenever I meet my fellow film reviewers at the Sundance Film Festival rest assured when we take a latte after some indie film of indescribable tedium and conversation turns to our favourite genres and films I’m under bombardment for enjoying war films most, yet I continue to defend them not just on the grounds of the enjoyment they provide.
First, they require great deal more planning and work than most films. The most popular film web site is IDMB (Independent Data Movie Base) which charts every film. In the record of the film is a section called goofs.
So directors and producers are very much aware and wary of any poor editing or impossible detail e.g. a credit card before the 1970s. Before a war film is made uniforms, tanks and guns have to be gathered and this is no easy task.
The director does not have the luxury of a interior studio take of 20 attempts.
Third there is the quality of the cast. A film like Darryl Zanuck’s The Longest Day features every star going and this can and does lead to rivalry.
For a younger audience though it’s now a rare opportunity to appreciate Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson – as in Battle of Britain – or Alec Guinness in Bridge over the River Kwai or The Malta Story or Robert Shaw in Battle of the Bulge.
These films were my rites of passage into films.
The strange thing is, though in my mid-sixties, I enjoy them all the more.
I was reminded of my aunt ‘s view when it was released “Henry Fonda was right and the whole of the American army wrong” but any such historical impossibility is more than offset by the performance of Robert Shaw, the input of Telly Savalas and Charles Bronson, and the sheer epic grandeur of the tank engagements.