In this list I emphasise films that are particularly vivid in portraying historical situations.
The Hill (British, 1965). Stark drama of WW II British soldiers in a brutal brig in North Africa. Sean Connery and Michael Redgrave.
El Alamein (The Line of Fire, Italian, 2002). Brave and loyal Italian soldiers trying to hold the line while left behind and isolated.
The Missing (2003). Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett in a powerful story of the hardships and dangers of the Southwestern frontier.
Danger UXB (British,1979). Actually a 7 episode television series about a team charged with dealing with unexploded bombs on the British home front.
Murphy’s War (British, 1971). A Brit (Peter O’Toole) and a Frenchman (Philippe Noiret), stranded in South America, devise the destruction of a Nazi U-boat.
Life and Nothing But (La vie et rien d’autre, French, 1989). A quiet portrayal of French survivors dealing with the trauma of the holocaust of WW I.
The Passion of Joan of Arc (French, 1928, silent). This portrayal of the last days of Joan of Arc is justly called one of the foremost masterpieces of silent cinema.
The Trojan Women (1971). Euripides’ classic Greek play about the women survivors of a destroyed world is made vivid, with Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Irene Papas, and Genevieve Bujold.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992). The classic James Fenimore Cooper story of the colonial frontier has been filmed many times, but never with the vividly realistic impact of this version, with Daniel Day-Lewis as a convincing “Deerslayer.”
In the Bedroom (2001). The title of this gem makes no sense and tells nothing about the film. The killer of a man’s son is let go from punishment on a technicality. The man devises and carries about a beautiful revenge that satisfies himself, his wife, and most of us viewers.
Mrs. Miniver (1942). Stiff upper lip on the British home front during Dunkirk evacuation. One of the most effective patriotic films ever made in my opinion.
Don Segundo Sombra (Argentine, 1969). Quiet, classic depiction of growing up among the gauchos, based on a popular novel.
I will add two more titles, which will bring my recommendations to 50 from 50 years of viewing.
The Flame Trees of Thicka (1981). Actually a 7-episode television series about a British family pioneering in Kenya.
Elizabeth (British, 1998). A portrayal of the early years of Elizabeth I, marvelous in every aspect. Followed by Elizabeth: The Golden Years (2007).
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews