The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Director: John Sturges, Running time: 134 minutes.
John Sturges's adaptation of Jack Higgins's best-selling suspense novel stars Michael Caine as Nazi Col. Kurt Steiner. When the Nazi high command learns in late 1943 that Winston Churchill will be spending time at a country estate in Norfolk, it hatches an audacious scheme to kidnap the prime minister and spirit him to Germany. Heinrich Himmler (Donald Pleasence) assigns Colonel Max Radl (Robert Duvall) to mastermind the operation. He enlists the aid of Steiner, who has been imprisoned for subordination, by offering him a chance to save his life. Liam Devlin (Donald Sutherland), an IRA lifer who hates the British, also signs on for the mission. Steiner and his commando team parachute into the small village of Sudley disguised as Polish soldiers. As they await the arrival of Churchill, one of the commandos rescues a boy from drowning in a nearby river, inadvertently revealing his Nazi colors in the process. Steiner realizes that some changes will have to be made in his timetable.
Empire of the Sun (1987), Director: Steven Spielberg, Running time: 153 minutes.
Roundly dismissed as one of Steven Spielberg's least successful efforts, this very underrated film poignantly follows the World War II adventures of young Jim (a brilliant Christian Bale), caught in the throes of the fall of China. What if you once had everything and lost it all in an afternoon? What if you were only 12? Bale's transformation, from pampered British ruling-class child to an imprisoned, desperate, nearly feral boy, is nothing short of stunning. Also stunning are exceptional sets, cinematography, and music (the last courtesy of John Williams) that enhance author J.G. Ballard's and screenwriter Tom Stoppard's depiction of another, less familiar casualty of war. (N.F. Mendoza for Amazon.com)
Enemy at the Door (2002), Directors: Martyn Friend and Mike Vardy, Running time: approximately 673 minutes per series, two series.
This compelling hit British drama series, produced by London Weekend Television, details the overwhelming pain and frustration experienced by the Channel Islands inhabitants during the German occupation of World War II. The uneasy relationship maintained by the islanders and the Nazi's is continually threatened as constrictive regulations dampen morale, accusations of rape add fear and suspicion, while murders, spying, and a plot to assassinate Hitler, entangle high ranking officials from both sides. This masterfully acted series stars Alfred Burke (The House on Garibaldi Street, Longitude) as the German Military Commandant charged with maintaining order and Bernard Hosfall (Braveheart, Gandhi) as the chosen representative for the islanders, both of whom will make choices that could cause a turn in the direction of the war. Featuring extraordinary writing, period style cinematography and archival footage, Enemy at the Door remains one of the finest World War II dramas ever produced.
Enemy at the Gates (2001), Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Running time: 131 minutes.
September 1942. The German Army has advanced to the gates of Stalingrad. The Russian Army holds on desperately. It is so poorly equipped that every pair of soldiers is given a single rifle--the second man only gets the weapon when the first is cut down. Trapped in no man's land between the opposing armies, Russian recruit Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) finally acquires a rifle from Political Officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). Danilov is astonished when Zaitsev picks off several German officers. On their return to the Russian lines, Danilov writes about Zaitsev's exploits in the army newspaper. Zaitsev is assigned to a sniper unit. He kills more German officers and, thanks to Danilov, becomes a hero. In retaliation, the Germans bring in sharpshooter Major König (Ed Harris) from Berlin to hunt Zaitsev. The two snipers engage in a desperate duel, as the appalling Battle of Stalingrad rages.
The Enemy Below (1957), Director: Dick Powell, Running time: 97 minutes.
In The Enemy Below Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens are respectively captains of a U.S. destroyer and a German U-boat whose vessels come into conflict in the South Atlantic. Both are good men with a job to do, the script noting Jurgens' distaste for Hitler and the Nazis and engaging our sympathy with the German sailors almost as much as the Americans. Made at the height of the cold war of the 1950s, the film delivers a liberal message of co-operation wrapped inside some spectacular action scenes and a story which builds to a tense and exciting, moving finale. (Gary S. Dalkin for Amazon.com)
Escape from Sobibor (1987), Director: Jack Gold, Running time: 120 minutes.
During WWII, Sobibor was a notorious Nazi death camp. This gripping, fact-based drama chronicles the courage of an inmate who managed the largest escape from such a place. Thanks to him, over 300 prisoners were freed. (Sandra Brennan for All Movie Guide)
Europa Europa (1990), Director: Agnieszka Holland, Running time: 113 minutes.
This "incredible, true story" (Los Angeles Times) is at once "eye-opening, harrowing and humorous" (Leonard Maltin) as it recounts the severe actions a young boy must take in order to survive the Holocaust. Based on the autobiography of Solomon Perel, a young German Jew, the film "bounds from one jaw-dropping episode to the next" (The New Yorker) and puts you in the middle of war-torn Europe where ingenuity, timing and luck are the key to survival. Separated from his family at the age of thirteen, Solly (Marco Hofschneider) takes on various identities to hide his Jewish heritage. First passing himself off as an orphan and later as one of the "Hitler Youth," Solly carries on his charade, hoping desperately to keep his identity hidden and make it through the war alive.
Every Time We Say Goodbye (1986), Director: Moshé Mizrahi, Running time: 98 minutes.
An American flyer who joined the RAF before his country was in the war is recovering from a leg injury in Jerusalem. Through an English friend he meets a quiet Jewish girl whose close-knit family originally came from Spain. The two are attracted to each other but she is convinced their diverse backgrounds mean it could never work; not only is he a gentile, his father is a protestant minister. So though they keep running into each other in the small community, they find themselves just as frequently parting again.
Eye of the Needle (1981), Director: Richard Marquand, Running time: 111 minutes.
Donald Sutherland (Outbreak) and Kate Nelligan (Up Close & Personal) ignite the screen as ill-fated lovers in this "exciting, emotionally involving thriller" (New York Magazine).Based on the best-selling novel by Ken Follett, this searing mystery is a roller coaster ride of suspense, centering on the relationship between a master spy and a brave woman with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Englishmen know him as Faber, but to the Fatherland, he's the lethal spy known as "The Needle." On his way back to Germany, Faber is shipwrecked on an island outpost where he befriends Lucy, a beautiful Englishwoman who lives there with her family. Lonely and scorned by her bitter, crippled husband, Lucy falls for the enigmatic stranger, not knowing that he's a traitor determined to prevent the D-Day invasion. But as their passion erupts, Lucy discovers the brutal truth as love and war melt into an electrifying climax of eroticism, adrenaline and terror!
The Execution of Private Slovik (1974), Director: Lamont Johnson, Running time: 122 minutes
This made for TV film tells the story of Eddie Slovik, who was executed by the Army in 1945, the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the Civil War.