U-571 (2000), Director: Jonathan Mostow, Running time: 117 minutes.
Faithful to the conventions of the World War II genre, Mostow's (BREAKDOWN) submarine thriller pays earnest homage to the pluck and determination of ordinary people forced to overcome extraordinary odds. The mostly young and inexperienced crew of the S-33 is deployed on a top secret, high-priority mission to intercept a disabled German u-boat (the titular U-571) and capture the ship's encryption system--the Enigma--in order to crack the Nazi's communication codes and hasten an allied victory in the North Atlantic. Racing against a German rescue effort, the S-33 stages a daring raid on the U-571. But after capturing the U-571, the Americans find themselves its prisoner as they must pilot the leaky, disabled vessel through hostile enemy waters.
Underground (1941), Director: Vincent Sherman, Running time: 95 minutes.
Set during the early days of World War II, Underground is an intriguing tale of danger and suspense set in Nazi Germany starring Jeffrey Lynn (Butterfield 8) and Philip Dorn (Spy Hunt).- Celebrated director Vincent Sherman (Backfire, The Adventures of Don Juan, All Through the Night, Mr. Skeffington) lives up to his reputation for directing some of the most memorable films made in the 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s with this story of the anti-Nazi underground and its attempts to usurp the Nazi regime and put an end to its war machine through the broadcast of an outlawed radio program. - Released almost six months before the United States entered WWII, Underground provides an interesting historical perspective of the American take on Germany’s Nazi Occupation before the fighting hit home. Vincent Sherman at 98 years old, is the oldest living Hollywood director.
The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon sotilas) (1955), Director: Edvin Laine, Running time: 181 minutes.
It is the summer of 1941. An eastern-Finnish machine gun company receives an order to turn in their surplus equipment. The company is transferred to the front lines. The next morning the soldiers wake to the sound of guns - the war has begun. The Finnish troops attack and quickly move across the border. The young, nervous rookies of the company get their baptism of fire, and the men become familiar with death and the hardships of war. Under strength and badly equipped they fight a superior enemy. The lists of heroes and of the dead seem endless. Edvin Laine's epic interpretation of Väinö Linna's war novel "Tuntematon Sotilas" is an entire chapter in the book of Finnish movie history. (Written by Peter Lagerstrom for IMBd)
Un Pilota ritorna (1942), Director: Roberto Rossellini, Running time: 81minutes.
A Fascist pilot, Lt. Gino Rossati (Massimo Girotti), is flying a bombing run from Italy to Greece in the early spring of 1941. He is shot down by British aircraft and becomes a prisoner of war, first of the British and later the Greeks. In one of the prison camps, he falls in love with Anna (Michela Belmonte), the teenage daughter of an Italian doctor. During a bombardment by the Italians, he is able to escape by stealing a British plane. He returns home, although wounded, and lands in time to hear the reports of Greece's surrender. The film's supervisor and story author, "Tito Silvio Mursino," the screen pseudonym of Vittorio Mussolini, was the son of Italy's Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. (Nicole Gagne for All Movie Guide)
Up Periscope (1959), Director: Gordon Douglas, Running time: 111 minutes.
Anyone with a fondness for the conventions of the submarine picture will be content with the modest pleasures of Up Periscope, a World War II melodrama starring James Garner in one of his early Maverick-era roles. Pulled away from a week-long romance, Garner tags along with the sub to a Japanese-held island, where he will SCUBA ashore and copy a secret radio code. On top of the reliable suspense of a man alone behind enemy lines, the film also offers captain Edmond O'Brien, whose previous mission has his crew suspecting him of cowardice. Will he cut and run before Garner returns to the submarine? Director Gordon Douglas made a batch of entertaining pictures over the years (a bunch of Sinatra titles, the giant-bug classic Them!, In Like Flint) and he coolly finds some effective ways to photograph men in the close quarters of a sub. The main draw is James Garner in his youthful prime; even if the movie doesn't exploit his comic talent, it shows how effortlessly he connects with an audience. The supporting cast consists of the kind of actors who inevitably seem to people a WWII ship's crew: solid character actors (Alan Hale Jr., who performed similar undersea duties in Destination Tokyo), oddballs and one-offs (Frank Gifford, Edd "Kooky" Byrnes), and future names (Warren Oates). (Robert Horton for Amazon.com)
Uprising (2001), Director: Jon Avnet, Running time: 177 minutes.
After Germany invades Poland in 1939, the Nazis decree that 350,000 Warsaw Jews be forcibly moved into a cordoned area known as the Warsaw Ghetto. Idealistic teacher Mordechai Anielewicz (Hank Azaria) decides the Jews must rise up against the Nazis and creates the Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO). He tries to secure the support of Adam Czerniakow (Donald Sutherland), the morally conflicted head of the Warsaw Ghetto's Jewish Council, but Adam declines because he knows that any act of resistance will provoke the Germans to retaliate by killing innocent Jews. Determined to mobilize a resistance alone if he has to, Mordechai recruits his friends and covert couriers whose ability to pass as Aryan helps them smuggle in arms and explosives from the Aryan side of the city, building up an arsenal to fight the Nazis.
When the Germans begin deporting 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp, the JFO begins acts of resistance that culminate with ghetto fighters firing their first gunshots against the Nazis. When it becomes clear that the JFO is a force to be reckoned with, the German High Command sends in General Stroop (Jon Voight), who is determined to end the uprising in two or three days.
Uranus (1990), Director: Claude Berri, Running time: 105 minutes.
Uranus is set in a post-war French village that has been all but obliterated by the bombing. Jean-Pierre Marielle plays a middle-class family man who agrees to shelter many of those who've lost their homes. The polyglot of political beliefs held by these new tenants sows the seeds of discontent. The most vocal of the town's dissidents are the Communists, who terrify everyone with threats of turning in collaborators to the French Forces of the Interior. The only person in town afraid of no one is hulking innkeeper Gerard Depardieu, whose ultimate death uncovers much of the hypocrisy disguising itself as patriotism in the village. While never exactly sympathizing with the collaborators, Uranus is careful to point out that the "unofficial" executions of these unfortunates was no more morally acceptable than the Nazi invasion that encouraged collaboration in the first place. (Hal Erickson for All Movie Guide)