Saturday, April 13, 2013




            This is the third annual finals of the March Madness War Movies Tournament.  This year’s competition was to determine the best WWII ground combat movie.  Sixteen movies entered the tournament and after watching all sixteen, reviewing them, and comparing them in various categories, we are down to the last two.  There were some surprises along the way, but we ended up with the two top seeds in the finals.

             It’s a fascinating match-up.  One is an Old School battle epic classic with an all-star cast that was filmed in black and white.  The other is from the modern VioLingo School that uses all the bells and whistles available today.  Interestingly, the two finalists are both about D-Day and they present a macroview (TLD) and a microview (SPR).  They make perfect companions for not only educating and entertaining the audience, but for recognizing the participants in Operation Overlord.   

            The tournament always concludes with a recap of the movies’ past scores.  It comes down to the calculator.

                                          TLD                                      SPR

Acting                                 9                                          10

Cliches                                8                                           6

Plot                                    10                                          8

Combat                               9                                         10

Realism                               8                                          9

Dialogue                             8                                          9

Soldier Behavior               9                                          8

Entertainment Value      10                                        10

Technical Advisors          10      Effects                      10

Educational Value           10      Characters                8

Balance                              10      Deaths                     10

Accuracy                             8        Implausibilities      6


Total                                  109                                      103



            Congratulations to “The Longest Day” for winning this year’s tournament.  The Finals was pretty competitive, but TLD was the comfortable winner.  While TLD was consistently strong in all the categories, SPR was let down by two areas where it has gotten a lot of criticism from war movie fans:  clichés and plausibility.  The spectacular acting and combat makes it one of the great war movies, but it does have some cringe-inducing elements (e.g., the evil German) to please the general public.

            TLD has no weaknesses as a war movie.  I am sure there are non-purists that gripe about the black and white, the length, and the fact that you have to read subtitles!  But from a war movie fan’s standpoint, it is hard to see how it could be better given when it was made.  I am not even sure a modern remake would be superior.  The combat would be more realistic, but we have SPR to cover that.  Watch them together.



  1. Good analysis of the two movies, especially The Longest Day, which deserves its victory. I agree that it holds up very well today.

  2. Thanks. I was a little surprise it came out on top considering its age. It is #15 on the Military History 100 Greatest list and it will be interesting to see how many of the top 14 are not better than it.

  3. TLD is a docudrama, so the black-and-white is appropriate. Its length is not unusual for an epic. And subtitles are better than having the German officers talking to each other in English with Colonel Klink accents (or the French C.O. giving orders to his unit in English with an Inspector Clouseau) accent). A modern remake would have the advantage of CGI technology and more graphic violence, but that would not make it better, just bigger. Odd that TLD actually has fewer cliches than SPR, but that is more a credit to the older movie, rather than a criticism of the newer one.

  4. Thanks for the input. I especially agree about the subtitles. I have to respectfully disagree about it being a docudrama. It has a documentary feel to it because it is pretty historically accurate and the black and white has a documentary look to it, but I have never seen "A Bridge Too Far" labeled a docudrama and no two movies could be more similar. It is simply a war movie.


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