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Dueling Works / Film - War

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Initiators Followers Description Implementation Winner?
What Price Glory (1926) Two Arabian Knights (1927) Service comedies in which a pair of World War I soldiers spend more time and effort battling each other (particularly over a woman) than the nominal enemy. WPG begat a series of sequels (1929-1933) in which Marines Quirt and Flagg have post-war adventures, with a new woman in each sequel. This was followed by John Ford's 1952 remake. TAK Director Lewis Milestone won one of the very first Academy Awards (category: Direction (Comedy Picture); subsequently eliminated).
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Westfront 1918 (1930) Two pacifist films released in 1930 about German soldiers in the trenches of the Western front (both even name it in their title) in the later stages of World War I, with War Is Hell as central theme. All Quiet on the Western Front is an American film based on the famous German novel by Erich Maria Remarque, while Westfront 1918 is a German film based on a lesser known German book, Four of the Infantry, by Ernst Johannsen. Most likely thanks to being a Hollywoodian production and being based on a much more well known book to begin with (not to mention the fact that Westfront 1918 almost faded into oblivion due to being banned by the Nazis in its country of origin), All Quiet on the Western Front ended up the most famous of the two by a very large margin. Wesfront 1918 ended up in The Criterion Collection, whereas All Quiet... has yet to be added to it. Nonetheless, both films are regarded as highly relevant for the historical context in which they were made and their uncompromising point of view on war.
Hangmen Also Die (1943) Hitler's Madman (1943) Two movies about the plot to assassinate Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich, released within five months of each other and one year after Heydrich was killed, both by anti-Nazi German film directors who'd escaped to Hollywood (Fritz Lang and Douglas Sirk respectively) Hitler's Madman was originally called Hitler's Hangman but had its title changed to avoid confusion with the previously-released Lang film. Actually both did pretty well. Hitler's Madman was a super-cheap B-Movie that turned out so well it was picked up by MGM and given a wide release.
So Proudly We Hail (1943) Cry 'Havoc' (1943) Two different dramas with mostly female casts about Army nurses in the middle of the doomed defense of Bataan in 1942, released five months apart in 1943. Cry Havoc was straight fiction while So Proudly We Hail was loosely Inspired by… a book by Army nurse and Bataan veteran Juanita Hipps. Both did pretty well, but So Proudly We Hail can probably be judged the winner as it received four Oscar nominations.
Lost Command (1966) The Battle of Algiers (1966) Films about the Algerian War for Independence. Both movies were produced in 1966, though Command beat Algiers to American theaters by over a year. Two films about the same subject could hardly be more different. Lost Command draws on Jean Larteguy's novel The Centurions, about French paratroopers fighting in Vietnam and Algeria. It's unreservedly pro-French, albeit with a token War Is Hell message added. Battle of Algiers is a docudrama produced by Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo and sponsored by the Algerian government. Though intended as Algerian propaganda, it provides a relatively even-handed treatment of the conflict. Lost Command was a modest box office success but earned terrible reviews and is largely forgotten. Battle of Algiers received almost universal acclaim, and today is considered an all-time classic.
Catch-22 (1970) M*A*S*H (1970) Deconstructive black comedy war movies released in 1970, with not much combat but a surprising amount of blood, starring ensemble casts of screwballs, and most certainly not using earlier wars as stand-ins for Vietnam. If suicide is painless, perhaps that is the answer to the Catch-22. Catch-22, despite an all-star cast, got tepid reviews and flopped. M*A*S*H was a huge success, made Robert Altman famous, inspired an even more successful TV series, and helped usher in the '70s auteur era in general.
Cross of Iron (1977) A Bridge Too Far (1977) British-made auteur films chronicling famous military defeats in World War II, featuring Maximilian Schell as a German officer. Cross is fictitious, told from the German perspective, and has heavy Vietnam War subtext; Bridge is explicitly based on real people and events and told from the British/American perspective. A Bridge Too Far was one of the biggest blockbusters of the year (but so expensive to make that it couldn't recoup marketing); Cross Of Iron, despite losing crazy money, was far better-received by critics at the time, but has fallen into greater obscurity.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) The Thin Red Line (1998) Both films were released in 1998 to rave reviews. Both featured an all-star cast of actors clambering over each other to appear in bit parts; both featured a 30-minute extended bloody assault on a bunker in the first half of the film followed by a long tramp across the countryside punctuated by violence. Both had HBO Spiritual Successor miniseries. SPR was set in Europe, TTRL was set in the Pacific. SPR came out several months ahead and had the natural crowd appeal of Spielberg, while reclusive director Terence Malick spent extra time on TTRL. Veterans groups complained TTRL was insufficiently sympathetic to the Allied cause, while critics complained that the second half of SPR was too mawkish. Saving Private Ryan by far among the general public, while The Thin Red Line is still in heated contention with SPR among critics and film buffs.

In terms of related series, The Pacific is more often compared to Band of Brothers than TTRL.
Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden (2012) Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Films released in 2012 about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Seal Team Six was produced by Harvey Weinstein for the National Geographic Channel, directed by the guy who made Turistas, and features a mostly small-name cast. Zero Dark Thirty was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, stars Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, James Gandolfini, and Mark Strong, and is being given a limited release in December 2012 for qualification for the Academy Awards. Seal Team Six got fairly good ratings, but the reviews were mixed. Zero Dark Thirty, while incredibly controversial, still received unanimously good reviews and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Pearl Harbor (2001) Enemy at the Gates (2001) Both are dramatic retellings of major historical events during World War II: the former, obviously, being the attack on Pearl Harbor, while the latter is the retaking of Stalingrad from the Nazis by the Red Army. Both stories feature an All-Star Cast, a lot of special effects, action sets, violent deaths, and (inexplicably) a love triangle that receives more focus than the real life event the stories are based on. Oh yeah, and one of the two male leads dies towards the end to allow the other to be with the female love interest. Both stories are fairly similar in how they're told (a romanticized view), but the latter is arguably darker with a more dreary and dirty atmosphere and claustrophobic feel. The former on the other hand is larger in scope, thanks to its bigger budget, and is brighter and more colorful. A bit of a tough call, but Pearl Harbor ultimately wins this one. While both movies made back their respective budgets and while Enemy received better reviews overall, Harbor made back more than twice its budget and is better remembered by most viewers today fondly or otherwise.
Behind Enemy Lines (2001) Black Hawk Down (2001) 2001 war/actions films released a little less than a month. Each set within the backdrop of a war during the 1990's and centered around American troops who after a mission into hostile territory goes awry must survive the onslaught of the surrounding enemy and try to make it out alive. Behind Enemy Lines is set in the December of '95 during the final stages of the Bosnian War and centers around the ordeal of a lone soldier. Black Hawk Down tells of the Battle of Magdishu that occurred in the October of '93 involving the U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force, and the 160th SOAR. Whilst Behind Enemy Lines was a box office success and wound up getting three sequels, albeit direct-to-video ones, critics were not impressed, and it didn't help Owen Wilson break out into becoming a dramatic actor, either. Black Hawk Down is the clear winner here, as while it hasn't avoided criticism for historical inaccuracies, by and large was well received by critics, made more money at the box office than its competitor even if on a bigger budget to start with, and took home two Academy Awards.
The Birth of a Nation (2016) Free State of Jones (2016) 2016 released historical war dramas set in the American 1800's about a revolutionary who starts a revolution against the oppressive southern government. The Birth of a Nation serves a telling of the slave uprising led by the slave preacher turned revolutionary Nat Turner whilst Free State of Jones recounts the story of a militia that forms in Mississippi that fights to secede from the Confederacy. The Birth of a Nation is the winner ultimately, but not by a whole lot. Free State of Jones technically made more money at the box office, but only grossed half of its production budget; whilst inversely, even if The Birth of a Nation got lower earnings in the physical sense, made about twice its smaller budget, and also got generally positive reviews from critics, whilst its opponent garnered a very mixed reception. The audience reception is harder to pinpoint, given places like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb have them flip-flopped from each other. All that being said, Birth of a Nation in spite of the mostly positive feedback it was getting from critics wound up being Overshadowed by Controversy surrounding its star/director Nate Parker before it had its wide release.
We Were Soldiers (2002) Windtalkers (2002) 2002 released Post-Saving Private Ryan historical war films set in a theater in East Asia. We Were Soldiers is an adaptation of the autobiographical book by Hal Moore based on his time of service during Vietnam War whilst Windtalkers is set in the Pacific conflict of World War II and based around the Navajo code speakers there. We Were Soldiers takes it, as not only did it sell more at the box office, but it had a smaller budget to begin with. Furthermore, it also got mostly positive reviews, whilst Windtalkers got generally negative notices from critics.
The Monuments Men (2014) Fury (2014)
Unbroken (2014)
2014 World War II films with in front of and or behind the camera involvement of major Hollywood Superstars.   Fury takes this one, as in terms of reviews from critics, it got a generally positive reception; whilst Unbroken got a polarized one, and Monuments Men got mixed-to-negative notices. The same can be said in terms of box office as well as user ratings from places like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, as they go in that same order.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016) 2016 films about young war heroes who become legends due to going above and beyond in their comrades during battle.   Hacksaw Ridge is definitely the winner. It was a commercial success, grossing 175.3 million worldwide on a 40 million budget, and was well received by critics and was nominated for several awards including 6 Oscar nominations which including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor and it won 2 for sound mixing and film editing. Billy Lynn was a commercial failure, grossing only about 30 million on a 40 million budget, and it also received mixed reviews from critics.
Anthropoid (2016) The Man with the Iron Heart (2017) Two historical war films about Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War II (just like Hangmen Also Die and Hitler's Madman in 1943, oddly enough). The two films were released less than a year apart. Anthropoid is directly based on the historical events and focuses solely on the Czech Resistance side of the operation with a linear narration and Heydrich only showing up for the attack scene. The Man with the Iron Heart meanwhile is for a good part a Biopic of Heydrich's life, interwoven in Anachronic Order with the point of view of the Czechoslovak Resistance operatives, and it is based on a historical novel. Both can be considered as Box Office Bombs (although The Man with the Iron Heart is a much bigger bomb given its budget) and both got a OK-to-mixed critical reception.
Churchill (2017) Darkest Hour (2017) Two films about Winston Churchill when he was the UK's Prime Minister during World War II. Churchill stars Brian Cox as the eponymous character and deals with his state of mind in the days preceeding the Normandy landings in 1944. Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Churchill, and follows his early days as Prime Minister, as Britain is in a dire situation during the summer of 1940. Darkest Hour had a much better critical reception than Churchill and grossed more at the box office. Churchill bombed and didn't receive any award nomination whatsoever.
Dunkirk (2017) Darkest Hour (2017) Two films about the Dunkirk evacuation, taking place at the exact same time, but told from different perspectives. Dunkirk depicts the evacuation as it happens on the ground, in the sea, and in the air, focusing on several individual soldiers to convey the dramatic tense of the situation. Darkest Hour focuses on Winston Churchill and the political discussions taking place at the exact same time. Both movies have been critically acclaimed and nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars, winning 3 and 2 Academy Awards respectively. Both films were box office successes, earning about four to five times their budget, although Dunkirk, as a big-budget blockbuster, grossed far more in total.


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