Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks- World War 2


This week is another favourite of mine which is World War 2 probably because both my parents were in the war-my dad was part of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Regiment of Canada and took part in the liberation of Holland. My mom, as some of you know, grew up in Wittenberg, Germany and lived through the war having lost 2 brothers ( a 1 yr old and  a 19 yr old) , survived the bombings of Hamburg and Dresden and met Hitler!  2 years ago I found out my mom and her brother were part of the German Resistance fighting against their own countrymen. My mom would place the dynamite under the bridges to blow them up so the Germans could not advance. Anyway, there are so many themes within this theme that I could choose but I went with a docudrama style. Head on over to Wandering Through The Shelves to check out the other picks.

1. THE LONGEST DAY-1962


I like this version better than Saving Ryan's Privates. Sorry but I do, even though Saving Private Ryan is a good movie, I felt the rah rah American saving the day kind of got to me especially when one of the characters stated  they were stuck because the soldiers at Caens  were holding them back. The soldiers in Caens were Canadians and had advanced farther in that first day than the other beaches because we had learned from Dieppe. When our military suggested  vehicles etc.. to the American Generals for D-Day, they were turned down! Those poor men on the beach would have had another Dieppe if not for us and the Brits! Sorry, but I had to say something and this does not mean any slight to the brave men who had to endure something horrendous on Omaha and Utah. I have a huge respect for any soldier because they had to deal with things I pray I never have to.  Ok so this film has an all star cast and showcases the Americans, British, French and Germans in a step by step style to showcase what went into D Day from not only the beaches but from the air. Many of the actual soldiers and military were advisers on this film and I find it just as accurate as Saving Private Ryan.

2. BATTLE OF BRITAIN-1969


This film documents the battle in the sky that changed the course of the war preventing the German Luftwaffe from taking over Britain. This also has a major all star cast headed by Christopher Plummer that shows how fleeting the life of a pilot is. Again, you have the Germans speaking German and showing a step by step play on this battle. I love the aerial footage and that the director was able to find many word war 2 vintage planes although,  in some scenes, he had to use American planes and made them look like the Spitfire.

3. TORA, TORA, TORA-1970


This docudrama is a step by step play, before, during and after, the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Again the players all speak their own language and never miss a beat how everything came about. It is interesting how some were not to be believed that all these Japanese planes were heading towards the harbour.  When the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto says that he fears they woke up a sleeping Giant and filled him with a terrible resolve( which this general actually did say) you know that they did and the States would never be caught off guard again.

What films come to mind for you? Did your parents live through the war? What experience did they have?




82 comments:

  1. I think that Schindler's List is one of the most compelling films I have seen about the war, but there are so many to choose from. My Dad was in India and Burma but rarely talked about it.

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    1. Schindler's List is a powerful film that I just can't find the words to express how great it really is. One forgets that there was fighting going on in India and Burma. Many men didn't talk at all.

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  2. Inglourious Basterds comes to mind. So does Empire of the Sun. Enemy at the Gates was also good.

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    1. These are all great! My favourite of these 3 is Empire of The Sun which I thought was brilliant

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  3. That's a fascinating story about your mom! I bet she has plenty more as well. My grandfather fought in the war too, he even got a purple heart.

    I haven't seen your picks this week, though I've at least heard of all of them!

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    1. My mom is fascinating and her experiences during the war always amazed me.

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  4. Sure many many war movies, some good ones, but now I roll my eyes at them and move on as the Hollywood machine tries to glorify it.

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  5. That was interesting about your mom being part of the resistance. I haven't seen these movies you listed and no movie comes to mind from that era, but have recently read a lot of books from WW2 and the Holocaust. Like I mentioned before, my dad was in the Polish Army at the time and was in a prisoner of war camp for most of the war years. After the liberation, the Americans kept him around because he was fluent in English, Polish, and German. Now why my mom, also fluent in Polish, didn't teach us the language, I have no idea. My mom would talk about the rations they had during the war and conditions, but my dad rarely talked about those years just to say they were "hard." He died when I was 18 months old (I'm sure as a result of the years in the war camp) but I had wondered in recent years if he was still alive as an older man if he would have opened up much about that time period.

    betty

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    1. It is difficult for many men to talk about the experiences. My dad didn't have that problem but I wish I was older to be able to ask more about his experiences. I think you should mark down what your parents went through because few know about what the Polish people experienced unless they were Jewish. I think he am have talked more now since it has become more acceptable.

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  6. Hi, Birgit!

    Thank you for offering your own historical perspective on WWII and movies like Saving Private Ryan based on your knowledge of Canadian participation in the war and stories handed down through generations of your family.

    Mrs. Shady is a WWII buff, but war movies aren't my favorite genre. However I have seen The Longest Day and Tora, Tora, Tora. The two movies that come immediately to mind are The Dirty Dozen starring one of my favorite actors, Lee Marvin, heading an all star cast, and Stalag 17, with an all star cast that includes another favorite, Peter Graves.

    Thank you, dear friend BB!

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    1. Your wife would know a lot. My ex knows so much as well. I love the Dirty Dozen! It is a great action film and Stalag 17 is funny and frightening all at once. You can see where Hogan's Heroes comes from.

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  7. Oh Birgit you know I do love a theme within a theme! This is a good one and I do like parts of all three of these films but they all suffer from the same problem, overlength.

    All three are often incredibly compelling and then suddenly they seem to hit a rough patch where either we have a group of people who just talk, talk, talk or they are just too meticulous in setting up the next sequence of events. I know they were trying to make the stories as in depth and understandable as possible but sometimes you have to trust the audience and winnow out certain aspects to kept the picture from becoming staid and make it move. Also with Longest Day I think they fell a little too in love with the idea of the star-studded cast and were loath to cut anyone out once they had filmed their segment.

    My Dad was in the war. He was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge and met Madeleine Carroll on a hospital train on his way back to England. He said she was lovely and kind, needless to say he's always held a special place in his heart for her.

    I don't know if it's a theme but I decided to focus on films that looked at people on the periphery of the conflict, affected by it but not directly involved in the fighting.

    To Be or Not to Be (1942)/To Be or Not to Be (1983)-As Hitler rises to power annexing portions of Europe life continues as usual at the Warsaw theatre owned by bickering married couple of renown, Joseph Tura/Fredrick Bronski (Jack Benny/Mel Brooks) “World famous in Poland!” and Maria Tura/Anna Bronski (Carole Lombard/Anne Bancroft). When the wife becomes enamored of a young flyer Lt. Sobinski (Robert Stack/Tim Matheson) they rendezvous while her hambone of a husband takes forever to get through Shakespeare’s soliloquy of the title. Suddenly Poland is attacked and the couple and their troupe of performers find themselves involved in the serious business of espionage to aid the war effort. The films, very similar in layout and execution, provide an interesting contrast in the way comedy about a serious situation can be played, the subtle almost gallows humor of Lubitsch and the broader stroke of Brooks. Both are successful though Lubitsch’s viewpoint is probably the more trenchant and timely. This was Carole Lombard’s final film, she was killed in a plane crash returning from a war bond tour the day before the planned premiere. The opening was delayed and her line “What can happen in a plane!” was excised (though it has been restored to current prints).

    The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)-Filmization of the young Jewess’s journal of her time hiding away with her family and assorted friends from the Nazis in a small attic apartment. Wrenching and sad but also full of observation about the human condition and a young girl’s journey toward adulthood. Shelley Winters won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work as the high strung Mrs. Van Daan.

    Confirm or Deny (1941)-During the London Blitz American war correspondent “Mitch” Mitchell (Don Ameche) will use any scheme-coastal wire, war orphan Albert’s (a thirteen year old Roddy McDowell) carrier pigeons etc.-to expedite news to his Stateside editor before anyone else. Meeting teletype operator Jennifer (Joan Bennett) on the night an air raid destroys his office he convinces her to let him use the machine, hidden in a hotel cellar, to send reports. Despite falling for him Jennifer argues with Mitch that his ambition to be first from the front is compromising intelligence work against the Nazis. When tragedy strikes he’s forced to question his methods, all the while New York keeps sending the same message over and over again, "Confirm or deny?”

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    1. Many people don't like the length of these films but I don't find it hampers the progress at all because I like the docudrama style. There are many stars in The Longest Day for sure and it may be distracting to some but I love it. I'm also glad you picked To Be or Not To Be. ...both versions because it is a forgotten gem...both of them although I do like the Lombard version better. the diary of Anne Frank is such a sad film and a sad book that I have read many times. I had the honour of visiting her place and it is humbling. I don't know the last pick but will look for it for aure

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    2. I've been to the annex as well. I remember being surprised that it was larger than I expected. I think because it's often referred to as an attic I had a picture in my mind of a typical attic above a house. Despite it being bigger than imagined it wasn't that spacious and I'm sure they were all cramped in there. A very profound experience. I had forgotten until I got there that Shelley Winters had donated her Oscar to the society that maintains the site, a very fitting gesture.

      With regards to To Be or Not To Be I love both versions and find it fascinating that they are basically so close in execution but it really is an example of how a filmmaker's approach can influence the import of not only the overall film but scene by scene. Both Benny & Lombard and Brooks & Bancroft have great chemistry with each other.

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  8. Wow, how did you ever narrow it down to three?!? I probably would have one or more of several. Kelly's Heroes, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape...

    Your mom met Hitler?!? You're not going to just tease us with that, are you? Love to get the details on her wartime activities.

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    1. I just watched Kelly's heroes tonight again. It is quite a fun film and you can see the 60's influence and the homage to the spaghetti westerns in one scene. Love, love, love The Dirty dozen and The Great escape....they are2 of my favourite. My mom has had many war time activities but the one where she met Hitler was after she was in Hamburg during the bombing. She was sent there, being part of the Hitler Youth(didn't have a choice) to help with retrieving people from the rubble. When the bombs started, she said it was every man for himself. She ended up in the basement of a home with a few others which probably saved her. After 3 days they dug used the shovel and axes provided in every home and went through a wall that was connected to the buildings. They finally emerged from a home that was still standing. There was now a quarantine on but my mom wanted to get home so she went to the edge of town and tore a strip off her dress and waded into the Elbe river with the bloated bodies and waded through them until she was outside of town. She then made her way home. About a month or so later Hitler came to her school to shake the hands of all the girls who went to Hamburg and he shook my mom's hand. She always wished she had a bomb with her.

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  9. I will admit I've not watched many classic WWII movies, though I've read quite a few books - Kurt Vonnegut stands out of course. My favourite quote about WWII however comes from Ken Follett's book "Winter of the World:"

    “After the Battle of Midway it was clear that the Pacific war would be won by planes launched from ships. Both Japan and the United States began crash programs to build aircraft carriers as fast as possible. During 1943 and 1944, Japan produced seven of these huge, costly vessels. In the same period, the United States produced ninety.”

    It's a stark reminder that Japan never really had a chance in that war, and also highlights the American mentality of building everything bigger, faster and better to the point of ridiculous overkill.

    It probably bleeds into how the efforts of other countries are usually glossed over or completely changed in American "historical" movies (see Ben Affleck's "Argo" for a recent example).

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    1. Very insightful actually. I do love war films for the most part although I am not for the rah rah overkill.

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  10. You need to write a post all about your mother's experiences during the war. Seriously.

    My parents are Baby Boomers, born after the war. My grandparents were the wrong age for it, so no WWII stories from my clan.

    I haven't seen any of these films. I'm not a big war buff, so I tend to avoid war movies.

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    1. I have been thinking about writing posts about my mom during and after the war. Yes, some people are not at all into war films.

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  11. Empire of the Sun left a lasting impression and for all its flaws remains a great movie in my opinion, along with Shindler's List.

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    1. Empire of the Sun is a fantastic film and Schindler's List is a film that should be shown in schools.

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  12. You must have heard some amazing stories - through real true stories are fascinating but hard to listen to.

    Great picks - not seem all but as always I've he read about them

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    1. I believe my mom suffered from PTSD but no one talked about that at that time. She talked to me and I listened...I was in awe of what my mom went through

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  13. Casablanca - "The Germans wore grey. You wore blue."

    Where Eagles Dare - Eastwood and Burton.

    Malena - Monica Bellucci.

    Anyway, props to your parents. My dad got some kind of record score on the entrance exam, for Philadelphia. Then he flunked the eye exam.

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    1. I love Casablanca and I almost used Where Eagles Dare. I haven't seen your last pick

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  14. ....yeah I haven't seen any of these. Looks like I have three more titles to add to my list!

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    1. There are so many! Let me know if you see any of these

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  15. Great story. Since your mom was part of the resistance, I would love to hear the details on her meeting with Hitler. As for the movies, I haven't seen any of them...sad, I know.

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    1. I only found out in the last 3 years that she was part of the resistance. I explained about her meeting Hitler a little further up in someone else's post.

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  16. For once I have seen all three of these movies. I particularly like The Longest Day. I have probably seen all the war time movies having lived through it in the UK. Angels One Five comes to mind as a very good air battle movie too. But there were so many of them following the war years.

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    1. Even though I lived through this war, I had never heard of a German Resistance. You ought to get your mother to tell you all about it and then write a book. Many would be very interested.

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    2. I'm so glad you have seen all these films! Yes, there was a German Resistance movement in various parts of the country. I knew about them but not much since it is rarely talked about....I think because it's better to have that all Germans were pro Hitler etc... My mom never told me this story u til her dementia started.

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  17. I agree, Birgit, soldiers deserve our respect. They are willing to pay the ultimate price for us.
    Have a good one;)

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  18. Birgit, you need to write your mom's story. You could fictionalize it a bit to expand it if necessary but use the reality. It would be fascinating. I like some war movies. A movie about Dunkirk is coming out--I think--next year. That should be interesting. I've seen The Longest Day and Tora! Tora! Tora!, but not The Battle of Britain documentary. I'd like to see that. Another was movie that comes to mind is Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver. Also The Best Years of Our Lives. Three Came Home. My dad joined the Army Air Corps when he graduated from college. He had a deferment because his family owned a farm and he was the only son, but he wanted to go. He had a degree in education and became a flight instructor stationed in California. My mom was back in Minnesota, near her mom. I think she also spent some time with my dad's parents in North Dakota. She was pretty much on her own, though, and my brother was a newborn.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I don't have to fictionalize anything because what my mom went through during and after the war, most probably wouldn't believe me. You are right that I need to write and start soon. This is my problem...getting started and having the confidence to do it. I read what everyone says at the IWSG. It would have been hard on your mom and there were so many shortages at that time. No one liked to see a certain man deliver news either

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  19. I would love to hear more about your mother's story. As for the movies, I haven't seen any of these but I've been meaning to watch Tora! Tora! Tora!, and I guess I'll have to add the other two to my list as well.

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    1. My mom went through quite a bit and I think a movie could be made about her life. I really enjoyed all these films because they give a good perspective on what happened in each of these battles.

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  20. Your mom kicked butt. Seriously. She was so brave to do what she did. What a rock star! I lived in Germany for three years and it was the most beautiful country I've ever seen. I loved it!

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    1. My mom was brave and a true rebel which often got her I to trouble. I agree, Germany is very beautiful.

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  21. Wow, what interesting family history you have! I can't get over how courageous your mom must have been. Amazing.
    I have a hard time watching war movies. They just depress me too much.

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    1. Yes, these films can be depressing especially the ones about the holocaust. My former father in law came upon one of those in the war and he remembers the huge pile of shoes. It is so devastating.

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  22. Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Regiment of Canada - that's where I grew up!

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    1. Yup! My dad was born in Barry's Bay which you may know and in the 1930's he worked in Algonquin Park as a logger.

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  23. Sounds like an interesting list of movies.

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  24. The Great Escape. I've seen that one a whole bunch of times. I notice that it's been making the rounds again. The Husband and I saw the Water Diviner last week, thank you very much for recommending it. So many different angles of war that I've rarely seen. Crowe did a good job bringing the story to life.

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    1. The Great Escape is fantastic...one of my favs. I'm so glad you saw The Water Diviner...it is a good movie.

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  25. Birgit, WOW, what an interesting tidbit about your rockin' mom! That's amazing!! I know you were proud of both parents for their bravery in WWII. I salute both of your parents! Now, two WWII movies instantly come to mind: The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape. Both are excellent! I think I've seen Tora, Tora, Tora, but it's was a long time and the other two you mentioned I haven't watched them. Great review!

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    1. Yup my mom is amazing and such a strong yet vulnerable lady. My dad was also strong and brave from the few stories I do know. The 2 films you mentioned I love. I can watch them over and over again.

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  26. Empire of the sun and many others are great pieces of art .
    Almost perfect breef over the painful topic

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    1. Empire of the Sun is a brilliant film that is an underrated Spielberg film.

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  27. That was so interesting to read about your parents, Birgit. Mine were in Burma when the Japanese invaded and they fled to India. They were young and unmarried - but my mother told me lots of stories, including how she carried her wedding dress material in her kit bag...! I have too many memorable WWII films to list.
    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. That is so cool that your parents were in Burma then and had to flee the Japanese. I'm glad they were successful. Very cool how she kept her wedding dress.

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  28. That's a fascinating story about you mother being in the German resistance, Birgit! Also great that your Dad was part of the force that liberated Holland. To this day, Canadians are treated like royalty there. You must be so proud of your parents! ☺ I'm not a huge fan of war movies, but have certainly heard of these. One that I did like is purely fictional: Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds".

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    1. Both my parents were quite courageous and amazing people I think. Inglorious Basterds is a great film and I love that scene with her in the Rd dress with David Bowie's song coming through...brilliant!

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  29. My favorite WW2 movie will always be FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. In that scene where Pruitt plays "Taps" for Frank Sinatra's character I cry my eyes out every time. I love that movie.

    MY dad and all 3 of his brothers fought in that war and Dad was the only one who came back without incident--1 brother was wounded, 1 spent the war in a concentration camp, and 1 was killed. So very sad.

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    1. From Here to Eternity is an excellent film and I need to rewatch that film. That is a horrible thing that your dad and his brothers went through. I feel very much for your grandmother

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  30. The Longest Day and Tora, Tora, Tora were such good movies. My Dad was in both WWII and the Korean War. He was in the Navy during WWII and a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne in Korea. He has paratrooper
    license plates and so many people stop to thank him for his service. I think that is so cool...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. That is so cool about your dad and he is so deserving the honours he gets and people should thank him for all he has done for his country. I hope you have his stories written down.

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  31. So sorry to hear you aren't feeling well, Birgit.
    Hope you're on the mend soon.
    Hugs

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    1. Thanks...I am so late in responding here

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  32. Wow. What a fascinating and tragic family history you have. I haven't seen any of the movies you selected, but they sound excellent.

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    1. It is a very difficult life my mom has led but she is a survivor and I love her

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  33. Goodness. Your mother's life could become a book! I do hope you have recorded her story at least. Good movie choices. I also liked the more recent movie of the Pearl Harbor attack, but of course can't remember the name. In 2000 something. Saving Private Ryan...saw it, had to, but only once. A hard movie to watch as it was so graphic.

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    1. My mom talked often to me but I never did record it. My Aunt did but had her speak in German and I am not fluent at all plus they have the tape which is sad.

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  34. Amazing about your mother! Schindler's List and Empire of the Sun would be in my choices.

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    1. Yup...my mom is amazing. Those 2 films are amazing.

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  35. I'm cheering for your mom. That was one brave woman to do what she did. My dad fought in WWII with Paton's Black Cats. As a scout, he spent a lot of time behind enemy lines and had some harrowing close calls.
    He was one of the early arrivers at the Eagle's Nest. I have a lot of his stories tucked away and would love to write them into something one day.

    I like a good war movie, and I have seen these. I haven't seen Saving Private Ryan, but thanks for reminding me.

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    1. She was Bree but s was your dad and how amazing. I would love to read about his exploits especially that he was at the Eagle's Nest. I am going to look up the black cats

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  36. Your Mom was a very brave & patriotic lady, and I had a German friend who told us of the horrors the 'normal people' in the country had to survive, especially when the Russians came through. Some of the things she told me, were things I had never imagined nor thought of. War is truly Hell, and I'm a bit sorry to say, the movies seem to glamorize it way too much. I've not been able to get through Private Ryan, keep trying to watch Band of Brothers. I'm not real big on War movies, but I can tolerate some of the WWII ones. Nothing about V.Nam though. I liked the Longest Day, can't remember that much about Battle of Britain (though I've seen it), and never watched Tora. There was enough blame to go around for the blunders made by all the countries involved, I think! TFS & Hugs (Oh yes, someone mentioned Schindler's List. Had to watch that in bites, it was too emotional for me. It was well done, but too heartbreaking. I won't willingly watch it again.)

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    1. Yes, very few people know how horrible it was for the German people especially the young women near where my mom lived after the Russians marched in. Schindler's List is one of the most profound but sad films ever to grace the screen.

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  37. Your parents' stories are amazing! Mine were babies and their parents too old. My father did lose an uncle in the Pacific which impacted my grandmother, of course.

    Movies. There are so many! I haven't seen yours so can't offer much there. I really liked The Thin Red Line which came out not long after Saving Pvt Ryan. Life Is Beautiful is certainly powerful.

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    1. Your grandmom went through hell. I am not a fan of a Thin Red Line but do love Life is Beautiful.

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  38. How are you feeling, Birgit?

    I don't watch too many war movies. The one classic I did enjoy was The Dirty Dozen.

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    1. Love the Dirty Dozen. I'm still not that great

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  39. Tora.Tora.Tora. is a fave of the HHs.

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  40. Wow, your mom was so brave! Mine missed the war, thankfully.

    My favourite would be "Life is Beautiful." That movie made me laugh, and it made me bawl for DAYS.

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    1. Life is beautiful is an excellent movie that des make one laugh and cry

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