Topical Films for Veteran’s Day

Mark Wahlberg in "Lone Survivor."
Mark Wahlberg in “Lone Survivor.”

As I write this, AMC cable channel, Sundance channel and other cable channels that recycle the same “war” movies every Veteran’s Day do not appear to have scheduled those same old movies. Midway, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Berets and Pearl Harbor are among their usual programming for the day where we honor all veterans, living and no longer with us.

Not to denigrate those particular films, but TailSlate wants to suggest other films in this genre for your viewing pleasure.

2013’s Lone Survivor is a rarity among movies involving the Navy SEALS in action. It is based on a real mission, not a fictional story. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Forster and Eric Bana; this film was made better by involving Marcus Luttrell and other real-deal SEALs as technical advisors.

Take an excellent novel of the Vietnam War era, put Francis Ford Coppola in the director’s chair and hire Ron Bass to adapt the novel into a screenplay. Cast James Caan, James Earl Jones, D.B. Sweeney and Anjelica Huston in the film and you have 1987’s Gardens of Stone. It is a war-time movie that takes place almost entirely away from that war itself. The novel’s title refers to the headstones at Arlington National Cemetary. The three male leads are part of the unit that provides honor guards for the fallen being laid to rest in the garden. The late James Caan is excellent as a career non-com who wants to be in Vietnam keeping soldiers alive instead of burying them back home.

Robin Williams in "Good Morning, Vietnam."
Robin Williams in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

Yes, Virginia, there really was a man named Adrian Cronauer. He was the first to use the phrase Good Morning Vietnam! to open the morning radio show on the American Forces Vietnam Network. Pat Sajak would use that phrase when he later took on the morning drive gig in Saigon. That phrase is also what brought us the movie Good Morning Vietnam, starring Robin Williams as Cronauer. Also starring Forrest Whitaker, J.T. Walsh and Noble Willingham, it is hysterically funny while examining the social issues of the era.

In 2017, director Doug Liman delivered a feature film with a running time of less than 90 minutes. While it is indeed short, The Wall delivers a tension-filled ride involving a batter between snipers. John Cena is the US Army sniper while Aaron Taylor-Johnson is his spotter. The duo was ambushed by “Juba”, played by Laith Nakli. It is a gripping thiller.

Most movie marathons of war films on a holiday weekend dedicated to Veterans usually include Where Eagles Dare. A bit of trivia is that the film’s leads derisively referred to the film as Where Doubles Dare because of the amount of time stand-ins doubled for them in action sequences. Rather than this, a far better war movie based on a novel by Mr. MacLean is The Guns of Navarone.

Or watch other war films that weekend. TailSlate thanks all of our veterans for their service.

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