War on Film


WAR ON FILM – The Longest Day

Taylor Downing takes a look at how 1960s Hollywood dealt with one of the most important days of the Second World War. ‘Hollywood meets D-Day’ is probably the best way to describe the all-star spectacular The Longest Day released in 1962. Most of the key players in early 1960s Hollywood competed to be in the […]


WAR ON FILM – Overlord

Taylor Downing remembers Stuart Cooper’s ground-breaking 1975 World War II film. Stuart Cooper’s film Overlord (1975) is the only feature film ever produced by the Imperial War Museum. While the museum has worked closely with many television companies on documentary productions over the decades, Overlord uses the museum’s resources in the production of a drama-documentary […]


WAR ON FILM – Dr Strangelove

Taylor Downing delves into the weird world of Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War black comedy. After making his First World War epic Paths of Glory (see MHM 40), Stanley Kubrick directed two movies, Spartacus (1960) again with Kirk Douglas and Lolita with Peter Sellers (finished in 1961). Then, during the early 1960s, he became fascinated by […]


War on Film: Paths of Glory

Taylor Downing revisits Stanley Kubrick’s breakout movie dealing with the controversial topic of execution for cowardice in the First World War.

THE CRUEL SEA Poster for 1953 Ealing Studios film with Jack Hawkins

WAR ON FILM – The Cruel Sea

Taylor Downing reviews a WWII naval epic based closely on Nicholas Monsarrat’s famous novel. In 1951 Nicholas Monsarrat published his fourth book on the naval war, The Cruel Sea. Monsarrat described it as the story ‘of one ocean, two ships, and about one hundred and fifty men.’ In a gritty, realistic style the book conveys […]


WAR ON FILM – School for Secrets

Taylor Downing reviews a film that made heroes of behind-the-scenes science boffins. The word ‘boffin’ became widely used during the Second World War as an affectionate term to describe the scientists who worked quietly in the background developing new military technologies. The origins of the word are not clear. There was a strange-looking character in […]


WAR ON FILM – The Man Who Never Was

Taylor Downing continues his series on great war movies by reviewing a vintage classic about a masterpiece of deception. On 10 July 1943, 70 years ago, the invasion of Sicily was launched. Having finally thrown the Axis powers out of North Africa, it was the first Allied move against Hitler’s ‘Fortress Europe’. As final victory […]


WAR ON FILM – The Dam Busters

Marking the 70-year anniversary of the actual raid, Taylor Downing reviews the classic war movie The Dam Busters At 7.30am on 17 May 1943, Flying Officer Jerry Fray took off in his photo-reconnaissance Spitfire for a damage assessment sortie over Germany. At 30,000 feet and about 100 miles from the Ruhr, he could see what […]


WAR ON FILM – The First of the Few

In the second of his new occasional series, TV producer and historian Taylor Downing reviews a wartime Spitfire classic. On 16 August 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited the control room of RAF Fighter Command’s 11 Group at Uxbridge. The Battle of Britain had just gone up a gear as Goering had ordered his Luftwaffe […]


WAR ON FILM – In Which We Serve

Launching a new occasional series, TV documentary producer and military historian Taylor Downing explores the story behind the wartime movie classic In Which We Serve. On 20 May 1941, 16,000 German airborne troops launched the invasion of Crete, Hitler’s final operation to reverse the disaster of Mussolini’s attempt to occupy Greece on behalf of the […]

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