Under The Radar Classic War Films You Need To See

Under The Radar Classic War Films You Need To See

Do you know which British-American classic war film was a key influence on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?

Under The Radar Classic War Films You Need To See

We all know and love the classics like All Quiet on the Western Front and The Bridge on the River Kwai.

But what about the brilliant blockbusters from the Golden Age of Hollywood that are less well known?

Here is a list of gems that were box office hits at the time but have slipped under the radar in recent years and need to be revisited.

Malta Story

Malta Story

Based on the heroic air defence of Malta during the Second World War, Malta Story is a 1953 film that uses unique archive combat footage.

Combined with a love story of a Royal Air Force pilot and a Maltese woman, this film is the perfect balance of action, heroism and romance.

The Labour Government's Central Office of Information commissioned the film to illustrate co-operation between the three branches of the armed services during WWII.

Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, arguably UK’s greatest directors in the conflict genre, this film is not to be missed.

Guns Of Navarone

Guns of Navarone

This British-American action-packed 60s war film is cited by Lucasfilm Story Group executive Pablo Hidalgo as a key influence on Rogue One.

Treating war like an adventure, this classic has similarities to the reoccurring themes of the Star Wars franchise.

Whether it's destroying the Death Star or infiltrating Starkiller Base - the seemingly impossible is accomplished. 

Guns Of Navarone is guaranteed to leave you cheering out loud while Keith Mallory (played by Gregory Peck) and a group of allied soldiers (including David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, and James Darren) destroy a pair of the most advanced ship-destroying guns the allies have ever seen.

Does the plot sound familiar?

The Weaker Sex
The Weaker Sex poster Credit: IMDB

The Weaker Sex

The ironically titled film was one of the most popular movies at the British box office in 1948.

The Weaker Sex was adapted by Esther McCracken from her own 1944 play. The play was called No Medals to reflect the contributions women made to the war effort without getting the recognition.

At the edge of her remorsefulness, mother and firewatcher (Ursula Jeans) manages to feed a houseful on rations while making sure that her sons have a home to come back to.

The second feature in the distinguished career of Roy (Ward) Baker, this film exemplifies what he is known for – chronicling lives of ordinary people accomplishing the extraordinary.

Where Eagles Dare

Where Eagles Dare

It would be disrespectful to have a list of war films without Clint Eastwood, who’s poignant performance makes this one of the most underappreciated classics.

Involving some of the top talents of the time, Richard Burton stars alongside the then 38-year-old Eastwood in Where Eagles Dare.

Disguised as Nazi officers they are joined by six other courageous souls as they parachute behind enemy lines to save a general held captive in a snowy castle.

But which one of them is a traitor?

The Purple Plain

The Purple Plain

The Purple Plain is a psychological wartime drama which explores the theme that even in wartime the real enemy often lies within.

Directed by Robert Parrish, the film stars Gregory Peck as a self-destructive Royal Air Force pilot.

After losing his wife, Peck’s character seeks to end his life in action. He says:

"You'd think that would be easy in a war... but I just kept getting medals instead."

When his plane is forced to land in a remote desert area in Burma controlled by the Japanese he is forced to escape the enemy while battling the most adverse conditions and finding a reason to live.

You can catch The Purple Plain, The Weaker Sex and Malta Story on BFBS and Forces TV later on this year.