Many classic movies have been set during World War II, including some that focus on the real-life heroes (and villains) of the war. ‘The Imitation Game’ joins these gripping biographical pictures -- some well known, some not.
The ultimate WWII biopic, following outspoken U.S. Army General George S. Patton (George C. Scott) from 1943 to 1945. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor -- although Scott famously refused his Oscar.
Tom Cruise plays one-eyed German Wehrmacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who joined the German resistance in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. ‘Valkyrie’ is an underrated thriller about one of the war’s most incredible true events.
The Desert Fox (1951)
While von Stauffenberg was planning his attack, the highly respected German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (James Mason) became involved in a separate attempt to overthrow the Führer -- one with politically complicated consequences.
Hitler himself takes center stage in this ultra-realistic drama, one of the few German films to deal directly with the country’s hated former leader. Bruno Ganz depicts the Führer as a shell of a man facing the end of the Third Reich and his life.
The King’s Speech (2010)
A decidedly jollier biopic than ‘Downfall,’ this Best Picture Oscar winner documents the efforts of England’s King George IV (Colin Firth) to overcome his stutter in time to embolden his nation as they entered the war in 1939.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Any list of WWII biopics must include Steven Spielberg’s harrowing portrait of Nazi party member Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved more than 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust. Rightly hailed as one of the greatest motion pictures of all time.
The Pianist (2002)
This film, based on the memoir by Wladyslaw Szpilman (Oscar winner Adrien Brody), is a remarkable tale of survival. The Polish-Jewish pianist spent the war in hiding, even finding an unlikely ally in a music-loving German officer.
To Hell and Back (1955)
Audie Murphy was the most decorated American soldier of WWII. Hollywood came a-calling, and in 1948 a star was born. ‘To Hell and Back,’ based on Murphy’s book about his heroic exploits in France, starred the young veteran as himself.
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Clint Eastwood’s drama about the men who raised the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima – one of the defining images of the war – is not as celebrated as his 2007 ‘Letters from Iwo Jima,’ but it’s worth a look for Adam Beach’s portrayal of the tragic Ira Hayes.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)
Finally, here’s one of the few movies about the heroines of World War II. Scholl (Julia Jentsch) was a member of the White Rose, a student resistance group that distributed anti-Nazi leaflets. The film recounts Scholl’s brave defiance in 1942-43.