Men at War: Blu-ray
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Men at War: Blu-ray

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There is one genre of films that will always be popular, especially with the men out there, the war movie. Unfortunately there is always some war either in the recent past or present day that will fuel this type of movie. While many such films now frequently take on anti-war sentiments or protest the horrible waste of human lives they engender the classic war movie usually had a different slant. These older films were full of men who were brave, patriotic and true to the women in their lives. That is if women are even present in the movie which in most cases they were represented only by a faded photograph carried into battle. Now, some of the best of these classic films are being released by Fox Home Entertainment. To make this news even better they are all being released in high definition Blu-ray format. These films have never looked or sounded better then they do here. While the clarity of the video is not as pronounced as modern films which were created with high definition in mind Fox did an incredible job of mastering these films for this new format. Even if you have one or more of these titles in regular DVD and you have recently moved up to Blu-ray these are defiantly some you should seriously consider repurchasing.

Not only are these movies some of the best war oriented films ever made they have garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim. There is more than one Oscar statues associated with them and for good reason; they hold up as gripping films. They are full of action, drama and will provide a profound emotional impact for the audience. There are performances here that are incredible to watch. These films also have a grandeur and scope that is rarely seen in current films. They are nothing short of epic.

Battle of Britain (1969)

Director: Guy Hamilton

This film recants one of the most important and decisive battles in World War II. The film starts in early 1940 with the Battle France. The Royal Air Force is routed by the infamous Nazi Blitzkrieg. Baron von Richter (Curt Jurgens) makes a proposal to British ambassador Sir David Kelly (Ralph Richardson) to have his country face reality and surrender; Germany cannot be defeated. This goes against everything the English believe; they are a strong willed and determined people that will not bow to Nazi rule. RAF Air Chief Marshal Dowding (Laurence Olivier) is certain that in order for his nation to survive the unavoidable fight with the Germans they have to muster every pilot and plane capable of flight. He finally gets the go ahead from the British command and begins to gather and train his men. The film details the preparations and ultimate fight through a series of fictionalized characters. Michael Caine plays Squadron Leader Canfield who has to initially battle short supplies and little time to get his men ready for the fight that wil determine the future of their nation.

Technical Specs: DTS 5.1 lossless audio; 1080p video

The Longest Day (1962)

Director: Ken Annakin (British), Andrew Marton (American), Bernhard Wicki (German)

June 6th, 1944 is a day that will live in history. It was the fateful day of the invasion of Normandy by the Allied forces. They faced incredible, overwhelming opposition from the German army entrenched on the beaches of France. This was one of the last great epic films to be made in black and white. It was felt that color would only distract from the reality of events depicted. Each national group represented in the film, English, American, French and German, where faithfully played by actors of that nationality. This in itself made this a film that made cinematic history. This is one of the best truly international films every made. In the British cast there was Trevor Reid as General Bernard Montgomery, Commander Allied Ground Forces and John Robinson in the role of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, Commander Allied Naval Forces. On the American side we have Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. played by Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum as Brigadier General Norman Cota. The German cast included Gert Fröbe of ‘Goldfinger; fame. Finally among the French cast was Jean-Louis Barrault and Christian Marquand. The film won the 1962 Academy Award for Cinematography.

Technical Specs: DTS 5.1 Lossless audio; 50 gig dual layer

Extras: History commentary with Mary Corey, film commentary with Ken Akins. Featurettes: ‘Day to Remember’, ‘Salute to Courage’, ‘AMC Back story’, ‘D-Day revisited’, ‘Richard Zanuck on the film’.

A Bridge too Far (1977)

Director: Richard Attenborough

This film takes place in the aftermath of D-Day. Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower is caught between opposing opinions to finish the war from General George Patton on the American side and his British counterpart Field Marshal Montgomery. One objective the Allies need is to secure several bridges in Holland; key to cutting off the wide spread German army from supplies and reinforcements. The most important of thes objectives is the bridge of Arnhem. If the Allies can secure it the Germans will be close to their ultimate and final defeat. Operation Market Garden was one of the most important in the final days of the war in Europe but the fight was not out of the Nazis yet. Unfortunately the Germans still have the man power to push the Allies back in a last effort to route their enemies.

Technical Specs: DTS lossless audio; 1080 p video

Patton (1970)

Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

General George Patton was one of the most famous and effective commanders in World War II. He was known for his rough demeanor, his genius for strategy and unorthodox behavior. He was dedicated to his troops in a way that few men with stars on their shoulders ever were. He was bigger than life and his men responded by giving their all. His career was also controversial. He once slapped a soldier with shell shock while in the hospital. He accused him of being a coward. The High Command had to reign in actions like this more than once in this illustrious career. The title role won an Oscar for George C. Scott. Like the man he played Scott created a controversy of his own when he refused to accept the award.

Technical Specs: DTS lossless audio; 50 gig dual layer

Extras: Introduction and commentary by Francis Ford Coppola

The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Directed by: Robert Wise

This is the one film here not concerned with World War II. Jake Holman (Steve McQueen) is a Machinist's Mate 1st class who just transferred to the Asiatic American fleet. The ship he now serves, the USS San Palo, is ordered too patrol the turbulent Yangtse River in China. It is 1926 and the Communist Chinese are fighting the presence of the oppressive American. The ship is a target since they use coolie labor of the locals for much of the arduous manual labor. The ship is also ordered to evacuate missionary Jameson (Larry Gates) and Shirley Eckert (Candice Bergen), a school teacher, from the increasingly dangerous country side.

Technical Specs: DTS lossless audio; 50 gig dual layer

Extras include: Commentary by Robert Wise, Candice Bergen, Richard Crenna and Mako. Documentaries including looks at the music, production and making of featurette.

 Posted 05/28/08

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