25 Best World War II Movies of all Time

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON September 23rd, 2015

best world war II movies of all time

World War II was a dark time for the older generation, but a remarkably action packed one for the newer generations. It was the classic good vs. evil battle, with very little politics involved and that is why many people wish to relive the ‘glory days’. While time travelling back to 1940s isn’t possible, these 25 best World War II movies of all time will make you realize just how big of an impact World War II had on humanity:


25. Stalingrad (1993)

Stalingrad movie

Stalingrad is a 1993 film that follows the progress of German officer Hans von Witzland and his battalion as they fight in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943.

After having half their number wiped out and being placed under the command of a sadistic Captain, Hans von Witzland leads his men to desert where they attempt to escape from the city that is surrounded by the Soviet Army.


24. Red Angel (1966)

Red Angel 1966

Red Angel follows the story of Sakura Nishi, a young army nurse who is sent to the field hospitals in China during the Sino-Japanese war in 1939. She assists the surgeon Dr. Okabe and gives sympathy to the soldiers who have no hope of returning home.

Nishi falls in love with Dr. Okabe even when he is impotent at times because of his Morphine addiction, and follows him to the frontlines of the battlefield.


23. When Trumpets Fade (1998)

When Trumpets Fade 1998

When Trumpets Fade is set in Western Germany during WWII. The story follows David Manning who reluctantly leaves behind a mortally wounded soldier and searches for survivors from his platoon, only to learn from commanding officer that they have all been KIA (killed in action).

Despite requesting a discharge, claiming mental disability, Manning is promoted, and assigned to lead a new platoon of young inductees into the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.


22. The Train (1964)

The Train 1964

The Train is a story about the French Resistance member Labiche going against the Germans Colonel von Waldheim, who attempts to smuggle valuable art work into Germany by train, by creating an elaborate ruse that helps keep the train within the border of France.

The film, although having no direct relation to World War II, tells the tale of how many people tried to take advantage of the chaotic time period.


21. Europa Europa (1990)

Europa Europa 1990

Europa Europa is based on a true story of a Jewish boy who is separated from his family in the early days of WWII. Since he poses as a German orphan, he is thereafter taken into the heart of the Nazi world as a ‘war hero’ and eventually made a part of the Hitler Youth.

Although improbabilities and mistakes are common in the film, but being based upon a true story it beautifully shows an intense emotional struggle of a boy to find his family.


20. The Longest Day (1962)

The Longest Day

The Longest Day is a retelling of June 6, 1944, aka D-Day. The story is told from the perspectives of the Germans, the British, the Americans, and the Free French.

The plot revolves around Marshall Erwin Rommel who tours the defenses that are being established as part of the Reich’s Atlantic Wall in an effort to stop the upcoming Allied attack who are just waiting for the weather to calm down.


19. Empire of the Sun (1987)

Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun is based off J.G. Ballard’s autobiography. The movie is about a boy, James Graham, whose privileged life is destroyed by the Japanese invasion of Shanghai on December 8, 1941. He is separated from his parents and taken to the Soo Chow confinement camp.

The movie shows Graham attempting to bring spirit and dignity to those around him amidst the sickness and food shortages in the camp.


18. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai

A 1957 British-American World War 2 film based off the novel of the same name, the movie tells us the tale of a POW camp that is ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway, even though the POW feel they shouldn’t.

Colonel Nicholson being the leader of the group, faces much torture as he refuses to compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito.


17. The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line

This film takes place in 1943 as the U.S. offensive of World War II is drawing to a close in Guadalcanal and to put an end to this campaign, the US army arrives with a full division of troops and equipment.

The story is about how the division is exploited by a power hungry Colonel, a war-weary Sergeant, a Private whose AWOL-ed, and a Company Commander who’s struggling with his abilities as a leader.


16. Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

Kelly's Heroes

As a refreshing change, Kelly’s Heroes is a war comedy film that tells the tale of Lieutenant Kelly who leads his men, deep into the French enemy lines to rob a German bank that is speculated to have $16 million worth of Gold Bars.

The team members, each having a unique characteristic, make for a great funny film.


15. Twelve O’Clock High (1949)

Twelve O'Clock High

Twelve O’Clock High is based on the aircrews of the United States Army’s Eighth Air Force who flew daylight bombing missions against Nazi Germany during the early days of American involvement in World War II.

The story deals with their struggle to cope up with the staggering losses of WW2. The film was highly praised for its intelligent use of actual combat footage.