Friday, July 1, 2016

THE 100 GREATEST WAR MOVIES (STATISTICALLY)



This is my attempt at a statistical analysis of the greatest war movies.  Here is the methodology.  I found four 100 Greatest War Movies lists that I feel are knowledgeable on the subject.  Two of those lists (Military History magazine and Channel 4) rank the movies.  The others are Film Site and the book 101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die.   I also used three books that rate war movies:  Video Hound’s War Movies, Brassey’s Guide to War Films, and The Belle and Blade Guide to Classic War Videos.  The reason why the list is limited to only movies from the 20th Century is because the sources do not include 21st Century movies. 

 I won’t bore with the details, but basically the first number is a combination of the average rating from the ratings books and a rating based on the ranking from the two ranked lists (on a scale of 1-5).   I grouped the movies based on how many lists they made so only movies that were in both Military History magazine and Channel 4 made the top 43. 

 I must emphasize that this list does not reflect my opinions.  In fact, I find some of the positions ridiculous.  I have seen and reviewed all of the movies on the list.  Some are not war movies, in my opinion.  Others are very overrated.  It is also apparent that foreign movies got short-changed.

Sorry about the columns.  I was not drunk when I made them. 

Either MH (Military History magazine) or C4 (Channel 4) plus one more list
100.  The Manchurian Candidate  (1962)                3.85        85MH 
99.    Bridge at Toko-Ri                                        3.85        73MH
98.    Mrs. Miniver                                               3.93        79C4   
97.    To Hell and Back                                          3.94        77MH
96.    Run Silent, Run Deep                                   3.95        79MH
95.    The Alamo  (1960)                                       4.02        61MH
94.    Sands of Iwo Jima                                        4.03        76C4
93.    Land and Freedom                                        4.05        80MH
92.    Ulzana’s Raid                                              4.05        54MH
91.    The Sea Hawk                                              4.05        48MH
90.    The Man Who Would Be King                      4.08        74MH
89.    Hail the Conquering Hero!                            4.08        70MH
88.    The Cruel Sea                                             4.08        41C4
87.    They Died with Their Boots On                    4.09        68MH
86.    Foreign Correspondent                                  4.1          86MH
85.    Ride with the Devil                                       4.1          73C4
84.    Casualties of War                                        4.12        55C4
83.    The Train                                                    4.16        62MH
82.    Empire of the Sun                                        4.16        43C4
81.    Life is Beautiful                                          4.19        56C4
80.    Twelve O’Clock High                                    4.2          72MH
79.    The Story of G.I. Joe                                    4.26        45MH
78.    She Wore a Yellow Ribbon                            4.28        55MH
77.    Catch-22                                                     4.28        42C4
76.    Oh!  What a Lovely War                              4.28        40C4
75.    The Tin Drum                                              4.3          60MH
74.    Scipio Africanus                                           4.3          56MH
73.    Ministry of Fear                                           4.3          53MH
72.    Colonel Redl                                                4.3          50MH
71.    The Third Man                                            4.33        80MH
70.    Battleground                                               4.34        36MH
69.    Beau Geste                                                 4.35        52MH
68.    Three Kings                                                 4.4          50C4
67.    Hell’s Angels                                               4.4          43MH
66.    Hope and Glory                                           4.43        52MH
65.    Pork Chop Hill                                            4.43        39MH
64.    Good Morning, Vietnam                               4.44        31C4
63.    Gettysburg                                                  4.46        46MH
62.    Battleship Potemkin                                     4.47        47MH
61.    Tora! Tora! Tora!                                        4.51        39C4
60.    Kagemashu                                                 4.53        34MH
59.    The African Queen                                      4.53        32MH
58.    Duck Soup                                                  4.53        27MH
57.    Notorious                                                   4.55        57MH
56.    The Searchers                                             4.55        49MH
55.    The Dawn Patrol  (1938)                             4.58        38MH
54.    Best Years of Our Lives                              4.61        40MH
53.    The Dam Busters                                        4.69        11C4
52.    The Killing Fields                                       4.75        15C4
Either MH or C4 plus two more lists                       
51.    Birth of a Nation                                          3.8          92C4
50.    Ballad of a Soldier                                        3.9          81MH
49.    The Big Parade                                            4.1          58MH
48.    In Which We Serve                                     4.12        57C4
47.    Gallipoli                                                     4.19        48C4
46.    Stalag 17                                                    4.19        18MH
45.    Sergeant York                                              4.4          19MH
44.    Wings                                                        4.7          11MH
Both MH and C4  (the highlighted movies appear on all four lists)
43.    The Last of the Mohicans  (1992)             3.75        65  (avg. of MH and C4)
42.    Battle of Britain                                         3.75        59.5
41.    Guns of Navarone                                      3.94        53.5
40.    The Deer Hunter                                        3.95        20.5
39.    A Bridge Too Far                                     4.02        50.5
38.    El Cid                                                      4.05        74.5
37.    Breaker Morant                                         4.07        84.5
36.    The Thin Red Line  (1998)                       4.12        58
35.    Cross of Iron                                            4.12        50.5
34.    Braveheart                                                 4.13        40
33.    Charge of the Light Brigade  (1936)          4.15        51.5
32.    The Dirty Dozen                                       4.19        24
31.    Rome, Open City                                      4.2          56
30.    From Here to Eternity                              4.29        56.5
29.    The Longest Day                                      4.3          17.5
28.    Spartacus                                                  4.35        33
27.    Alexander Nevsky                                     4.38        39.5
26.    The Big Red One                                       4.4          84.5
25.    The General                                             4.45        53.5
24.    Stalingrad  (1992)                                      4.45        40.5
23.    Platoon                                                    4.65        7.5
22.    Battle of Algiers                                        4.5          44
21.    MASH                                                     4.52        26.5
20.    The Great Escape                                    4.52        23.5
19.    The Life and Death of Col. Blimp               4.55        79.5
18.    Ran                                                          4.55        70
17.    Napoleon                                                 4.55        52
16.    Full Metal Jacket                                    4.55        10.5
15.    All Quiet on the Western Front  (1930)    4.65        17   *  #1 in MH
14.    Apocalypse Now                                      4.67        8
13.    Glory                                                      4.69        39
12.    Dr. Strangelove                                         4.7          51
11.    Casablanca                                               4.7          47.5
10.    Paths of Glory                                         4.74        12.5
9.      Bridge on the River Kwai                        4.75        11
8.      Das Boot                                                 4.84        10
7.       Saving Private Ryan                               4.84        4.5      *  #1 in C4
6.       Henry V  (1944)                                       4.85        55.5
5.       Grand Illusion                                        4.85        34
4.       Patton                                                    4.85        30.5
3.       Lawrence of Arabia                                4.85        23
2.       Schindler’s List                                       5.0          17.5
1.       Zulu                                                        5.0          15  *  #22 MH  /  #8  C4

A few thoughts:
1.  The two ranked lists (MH and C4) differ greatly in placement of the movies.  Only 43 movies made both lists.  The movie that was highest on both lists was “Saving Private Ryan”. 

2.  Because I could find only three appropriate rating sources, this meant that if one reviewer disliked a movie, it could skew the average rating.  For instance, “The Longest Day” got a 2.0 in Belle and Blade, which is ludicrous.  However, I had to stick with the system.

3.  “Patton” and “Dr. Strangelove” were the only movies to get a perfect rating in all three sources.  Several movies had 5s on two sources, but were not reviewed by the third source.  These were “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Zulu”, “Schindler’s List”, “Casablanca”, “Henry V”, “Ran”, and “Grand Illusion”.

4.  Only three movies made the top ten in both MH and C4:  “Das Boot” (3 & 10), “Saving Private Ryan” (8 & 1), and “Platoon” (9 & 6).  “Platoon” ended up at #23 because of lukewarm ratings.

5.  Movies that met the criteria, but did not make the top 100 included:  “Guadalcanal Diary”, “Castle Keep”, “The Desert Fox”, “A Walk in the Sun”, “Sahara”, “The Desert Rats”, “Dunkirk”, “Midway”,  “Ben Hur”, “Come and See”, “Regeneration”, and “Europa, Europa” .

2 comments:

  1. I would have rated Battleground, The Story of G.I. Joe, and The Bridges At Toko-Ri much higher.

    Ben-Hur is a biblical epic, not a war movie. I suppose Spartacus is a borderline case. I consider it a sword-and-sandal epic, but it does have battles.

    The Manchurian Candidate is an espionage/political thriller. I guess you could say that the Cold War is the motivation, but that would also be true of a lot of spy-fi movies, whether serious dramas (The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Topaz) or action-adventure (From Russia With Love, North By Northwest).

    Casablanca and Gone With the Wind are romantic dramas, but I guess in each case the war is important to the story.

    Genres overlap, so She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (and Fort Apache, Major Dundee, A Thunder of Drums, Escape From Fort Bravo,or Only the Valiant) could be considered a war movie as well as a western. But The Searchers is a Western. The US Army cavalry and Texas Rangers attack the Comanches at the end, but then, the cavalry comes to the rescue in Stagecoach, and nobody seems to consider that a war movie.

    The Sea Hawk is a swashbuckler. If it is considered for inclusion, then Captain Blood and Robin Hood should have been, too.

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    Replies
    1. You and I are in agreement on all of this. My personal take on movies like "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" is that you can not be primarily in TWO genres. For that reason, I classify movies like that as Westerns and NOT war movies.

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Please fell free to comment. I would love to hear what you think and will respond.