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WORLD WAR 1 DOCUMENTARIES & FILMS, 1914 TO 2008

Note by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

2006 - Blood and Oil: The Middle East in World War 1  
 
 

All listed by year of production:


Naval Documentaries & Films/Movies
Military Documentaries
Military Films/Movies

 

Imdb - Listed in the International Movie Database under "War"

 

If a search of internet does not provide more information on these films, click for the British Film Institute site

 


 

NAVAL - DOCUMENTARIES & FILMS/MOVIES

 

There are few naval films, reflecting the apparent belief the First World War was only a land war. With few exceptions, I don't know the films personally, but they sound interesting historically:

During World War 1

 

1915 - How Lieutenant Rose RN Spiked the Enemy's Guns (Imdb) - Britain's Naval Secret (Imdb)

 

1916 - the Hero of Submarine D-2 (Imdb) - The British "D-2" was sunk on the 25th November 1914 off the German Ems Estuary; any connection I wonder?

 

Inter-War Years

 

1919 - The Log of the U-35 (Imdb)

 

1921 - The Battle of Jutland - The greatest naval battle ever. It took place in the North Sea off the Skagerrak (the German name for the battle) on 31st May-1st June 1916 - the British lost tactically, but still held the battleground the next day. The 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf, although involving more ships was a series of battles.

 

1924 - Zeebrugge - The brilliant and incredibly heroic raid of April 1918. It's aim, combined with a raid on Ostend, was to block the Flanders U-boat and destroyer flotillas in their Belgium bases

 

1926 - Mare Nostrum - "Our sea" - whose?

 

1927 - Battle of the Coronel and Falkland Island - The two battles between ships of the Royal Navy and the German East Asiatic Squadron commanded by Admiral von Spee. In Coronel, two old British armoured cruisers were totally overwhelmed on the 1st November 1914 and went down off the Chile coast. Five weeks later von Spee's two armoured cruisers and two of his three light cruisers were dispatched by a superior British force off the Falkland Islands.

 

1927 - The Emden - Originally one of von Spee's light cruisers, she was detached for commerce raiding in the Indian Ocean. After a short but spectacular career, sunk by Australian light cruiser "Sydney", November 1914

 

1928 - Q Ships (Imdb) - I believe the famous Q-ship commander Captain Gordon Campbell VC was technical adviser during the making of the film. Still photographs are included in the book "Q-ships" by Carson Ritchie.

 

(1933 - Adolph Hitler comes to power)

 

1935 - Brown of Resolution (also Forever England) - I only know the 1953 version of the film based on the book by C S Forester - the Hornblower author. It appears to be loosely based on the one German light cruiser that escaped destruction at the Battle of the Falklands. The story is both heroic and poignant, although the more recent version provided an alternative "happy" ending.

 

1938 - Submarine Patrol

 

1939 - The Spy in Black (also U-boat 29 - Imdb). Conrad Veidt as the German naval spy and Valerie Hobson as a double agent. I enjoyed the atmosphere

 

Post-World War 2

 

1951 - The African Queen (Imdb) - Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in their classic based loosely on the German East Africa Lakes campaigns. On the British side this included two armed steamboats named "Mimi" and "Fifi" operating on Lake Tanganyika in 1915/16.

 

1953 - Sailor of the King (also Brown on Resolution or Single Handed - Imdb) - Enjoyable remake of the the 1935 film

 

1990's - Battleships at War, Pegasus CVB 1171 - Includes some good footage of World War 2 battleships and other warships - British and German (documentary)

 

1992 - The Battleships, U.S. News Video - Possibly includes the World War 1 period (documentary)

 

1992 - Submarines, U.S. News Video - The review suggests it covers submarines in World War 1 (documentary)

 

1996 - Last Voyage of the Lusitania, National Geographic' Society - The British liner sunk off the Irish coast in May 1915 with the loss of many American lives and a major factor in eventually bringing the United States into the war in April 1917. Still the subject of minor "conspiracy theories" - for example, Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty ordered the sinking to alienate US opinion against the Germans etc. (documentary)

 

2006 - Blood and Oil: The Middle East in World War 1 - as oil was the life-blood of the Royal Navy, I've included this excellent documentary here

 

 

and possibly the best overall source of documentaries of the period

 

 

British Pathé Newsreel Archives 1897-1970 - including naval history footage

 

 

 

 

 


 

MILITARY - DOCUMENTARIES

 

date? Battle Of Verdun: Great Days

 

1964 - The Guns of August (Imdb) - Based on American historian Barbara Tuchman's best-selling and very readable book, it covers the period from 1910 to the Armistice, November 1918. Described as "competent" with lots of rare combat footage

 

1964 - The Finest Hours (Imdb), Le Vien Films - An earlier TV production on the life of Sir Winston Churchill (see 1991 following). I re-watch it every year or so, and have to admit that for me Winston Churchill for all his human failings is one of the greatest men in history.

 

1980's? - World War I - 26 part US Public Broadcasting Service production

 

1980's - Soldiers, British television series - I particularly remember the programme on artillery and the absolutely horrifying account of the French 'poilu' under almost volcanic bombardment at Verdun in 1916

 

1991 - Biography: The Complete Churchill - Written and presented by Martin Gilbert, Churchill's official biographer. I haven't seen this production, but Sir Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty 1911-1915, resigned over the Dardanelles campaign, served in the French trenches as an infantry officer, and in 1917 became Minister of Munitions and developed the tank. It should cover some of World War 1

 

1995 - Doughboys, The: Heroes of WWI - The US Army on the Western Front, late 1917 to November 1918

 

1996 - Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century - Described by a reviewer as "a truly superb documentary and ranks alongside The World At War (World War 2) as a 'must see' production"

 

1997 - Aces - A Story of the First Air War - US production

 

c 1998 - 1914-18, BBC Television - Excellent six one-hour length series on the First World War. Little if any naval coverage, but it includes many fascinating quotes from those who took part as well as rarely-seen film footage.

 

2003 - World War 1 in Colour - TV mini-series using computer colorized footage

 

2006 - World War 1: American Legacy - stories of American men and women who served. Interesting to watch

 


 

MILITARY - FILMS/MOVIES

 

I know nothing about most of the pre-World War 2 films, but they are listed for interest

 

1914 - Start of World War 1

 

1914 - By The Kaiser's Orders - Called To The Front - England Expects - the German Spy Peril - the Fringe of Wall - the Great European War - In the name of the Prince of Peace (also Prince of Peace - Imdb) - It's a long way to Tipperary - the Last Volunteer (Imdb) - One of Millions (Imdb) - the Ordeal (also The Mothers of Liberty 1918 reissue - Imdb) - Saving the Colours - Shannon of the Sixth (Imdb) - The War Extra (Imdb)

 

1915 - 1914 (Imdb) - the Battle Cry of Peace - Brother Officers (Imdb) - the Campbells Are Coming (Imdb) - Captain Macklin (Imdb) - a Continental Girl (also Daughter of the War 1918 reissue - Imdb) - the Coward (Imdb) - the Crimson Wing (Imdb) - the Despoiler (also War's Women, and The Awakening 1920 reissue - Imdb) - the Doorway of Destruction (Imdb) - Friends and Foes (Imdb) - From Flower Girl to Red Cross Nurse (Imdb) - the German side of the War (Imdb) - the Gray Nun of Belgium (Imdb) - If England Were Invaded (possibly also Britain Prepared - Imdb) - I'm Glad My Boy Grew Up to be a Soldier (Imdb) - On the Russian Frontier (Imdb) - the Outrage (Imdb) - the Patriot and the Spy (Imdb) - the Rights of Man: A Story of War's Red Blotch (Imdb) - Somewhere in France (1916 - Imdb) - Tommy Atkins (Imdb) - Under the German Yoke (Imdb) - Unfit - War is hell - Wenn Voelker streiten (Imdb) - the White Sister

 

1916 - According to the Code (Imdb) - the Battle of the Somme (Imdb) - Behind the Lines (Imdb) - the Bugler of Algiers (also We Are French - Imdb) - Civilizations - the Crisis (Imdb) - the Fall of the Nation - the Great Red War (Imdb) - the Heart of a Hero (Imdb) - War Brides - the War Bride's secret - We French - Wien im Krieg (Imdb) - You (Imdb)

 

1917 - Arms and the Girl - the Battle Of Arras (possibly also The Retreat of the Germans or Retreat of the Germans at the Battle of Arras - Imdb) - the Birth of Patriotism (Imdb) - Blood-Stained Russian (Imdb) - the Dark Road (Imdb) - For France (Imdb) - For Liberty (Imdb) - For the Freedom of the World (Imdb) - For Valour (Imdb) - the Gown of Destiny (Imdb) - the Greatest Power - the Hostage (remade in 1939? - Imdb) - How Britain Prepared (but see 1915, If England Were Invaded - Imdb) - Joan the Woman - the Little American - the Man Who Made Good (Imdb) - On Dangerous Ground (Imdb) - Over There (Imdb) - the Patriot (Imdb) - the Secret Game - the Slacker - Shame - the Spy (Imdb) - Treason (Imdb) - a Trooper of Troop K (Imdb) - War and the Woman (Imdb) - the Warrior (Imdb) - Womanhood, the Glory of the Nation (also Battle Cry of War or Womanhood - Imdb) - the Woman's Land Army

 

1918 - Good-bye, Bill (also Gosh Darn the Kaiser - Imdb) - Hearts of the World (Imdb) - the Hun Within (Imdb) - I'll Say So (Imdb) - the Invasion of Britain - the Kaiser-Beast of Berlin - Kaiser's Finish (Imdb) - the Kaiser's Shadow (also The Triple Cross - Imdb) - Kiddies in the Ruins - Mrs.Slacker - My Four Years in Germany (Imdb) - the Prussian Cur (Imdb) - Shoulder Arms - Till I Come back to you (Imdb) - To Hell with the Kaiser (Imdb) - the Unbeliever (Imdb) - the Woman the Germans Shot (also The Cavell Case - Imdb)

 

After World War 1

 

1919 - Comradeship (also Comrades in Arms - Imdb) - J'accuse! - the Unpardonable Sin (Imdb) - Yankee-Doodle in Berlin

 

1920 - Humoresque

 

1921 - the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - How Lord Kitchener Was Betrayed

 

1923 - Armageddon - the Hero

 

1924 - the Enchanted Cage - Reveille - the Sideshow of life

 

1925 - The Big Parade (Imdb) - a reviewer describes it as "one of the best WW1 films ever ..... and some of the most harrowingly realistic battle scenes ever filmed. A gem."

also Ypres (also Wipers - Imdb)

1926 - Behind the Front - Mademoiselle from Armentieres - Mons (the great British fighting retreat of 1914) - Roses of Picardy (Imdb) - What Price Glory? (remade in 1952 with same title? Imdb)

 

1927 - Blighty (Imdb) - Mademoiselle Parley-voo - the Somme (Battle of 1916 - the British had nearly 60,000 casualties on day one in a battle partly aimed at relieving the pressure on Verdun) - the Strong Man - Verdun, Visions d'Histoire (or 1929 (Imdb) - the 1916 German attack aimed at bleeding the French armies white, but both sides suffered hugely and equally) - Wings (Imdb)

 

1928 - Captain Swagger - Dawn - the Guns of Loos - the Legion of the Damned (or Condemned?) - Lilac Time (also Love Never Dies - Imdb) - Poppies of Flanders

 

1929 - the Cock-Eyed World - the Burgomaster of Stilemonde

 

1930 - All Quiet on the Western Front (Imdb) - Often described as the greatest of anti-war films, whatever that means! Certainly a brilliant portrayal of life and death amongst the horrors of the Western Front trenches as an entire German 'Class of 1914' goes to war and is steadily wiped out. The 1979 version starring Ernest Borgnine was possibly as good as the original

 

Hell's Angels (Imdb) - A reviewer describes the action in this US film as "unmatched for aerial spectacle" but found the story slow-moving. Stars Ben Lyon (is this the same Ben Lyon who partnered Beebie Daniels at least on BBC radio?) and Jean Harlow

 

The Dawn Patrol (also Flight Commander - Imdb) - Another inter-war classic about the British Royal Flying Corps losing pilots as fast as the German "Class of 1914' lost soldiers.

 

Westfront 1918 (also Comrades of 1918 - Imdb) - German stars and director

also Journey's End (Imdb) - the W Plan

1931 - Dishonored - starring Marlene Dietrich as secret agent X-27!

also the Doomed Battalion (also Berge in Flammen, 1932 - Imdb) - Hell on Earth (also No Man's land or Niemandsland - Imdb) - Tell England (also Battle of Gallipoli - Imdb)

1932 - a Farewell to Arms (Imdb) - the Man I Killed - Pack Up Your Troubles (Imdb - Laurel & Hardy capture an entire regiment) - Sky Devils

 

(1933 - Adolph Hitler comes to power)

 

1933 - Ace of Aces (Imdb) - the Eagle and the Hawk (Imdb) - I Was a Spy - Morgenrot (Imdb)

 

1936 - the Road to Glory - Sons o' England

 

1937 - Grand Illusion (La Grande Illusion)

 

1938 - The Dawn Patrol (Imdb) - Excellent remake of the 1930 film, starring Basil Rathbone, Errol Flynn and David Niven. I believe it is in this version that a new pilot is asked how many hours he had flown as he is about to go into combat - something like "two or three" was the reply!

 

World War 2

 

1939 - Enemy Agent - the Hostages (also Les Otages, 1938 - Imdb) - Nurse Edith Cavell (the British nurse shot in Belgium for helping Allied escapees) - We're in the Army Now (also Pack Up Your Troubles - Imdb)

 

1941 - Sergeant York (Imdb) - Real-life American backwoodsman and pacifist who became a highly decorated US Army hero in the 1918 campaigns. Gary Cooper stars

 

Post-World War 2

 

1958 - A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway's account of his Italian service and the disastrous 1917 Battle of Caporetto when the Germans smashed through the Italian front

 

Paths of Glory (or 1957 - Imdb) - Kirk Douglas as a convincing French officer defending men who mutinied in 1917, partly as a result of the appalling losses on the Western Front at Verdun in 1916. Directed by Stanley Kubrick

 

Lafayette Escadrille - The Squadron of US volunteers formed in 1916 to fly with the French Air Force. Clint Eastwood and Tab Hunter star

 

1962 - Lawrence of Arabia (Imdb) - A magnificent film in all ways although the importance of Captain Lawrence's role in the Arab revolts and the impact of the Arab Army on the Turks is still debated. Starring Peter O'Toole at his very best, directed by David Lean.

also Lawrence of Arabia - 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition

1964 - Thomas L'Imposteur

 

1966 - The Blue Max, alias the "Pour la Merite", the highest German decoration - The aircraft are interesting and aerial photography excellent.

 

1968 - 1917

 

1969 - Oh! What a Lovely War - Another "anti-war" film

 

1971 - Zeppelin - Starring Michael York,  the Zeppelins are interesting, especially as they played a scouting role in German High Seas Fleet operations.

 

1971 - Von Richthofen and Brown (also The Red Baron - Imdb) - The aircraft were interesting too

 

1971 - Johnny Got His Gun (Imdb)

 

1979 - All Quiet on the Western Front - Excellent remake of the1930 film with Ernest Borgnine as the grizzled NCO trying to keep his boys alive. He, his co-star and the film received Emmy nominations

 

1981 - Gallipoli (Imdb) - Excellent film, with brilliant but horrific combat scenes. As in other accounts of this campaign, it does seem to try too hard to show what "butchers and bunglers" the Allied leadership were. My reading is that the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns were brilliant strategic concepts that failed for a number of reasons. Although a defining point for the Australian and New Zealand nations and their ANZAC forces, all the Allies suffered heavily - 7,600 Australian, 28,000 British, 10,000 French and 2,400 New Zealanders died.

 

1988 - The Lighthorsemen (Imdb) - An account of the equally brave but this time successful Australian cavalry in the battles to capture Palestine from the Turks.

 

1997 - Battle of Vimy Ridge (TV Series - Imdb) - The Battles of Vimy Ridge have, I understand, the same place in Canada's history as Gallipoli does in Australia and New Zealand's

 

2008 - Passchendaele - Canadian movie, includes some powerful and brutal battle scenes

 

 

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