By Movieguide® Staff
December 7, 2021, marks the 80th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a day that will live in infamy. To avoid World War III, America needs to have the strength and determination to deter those who would consider starting it. These movies show what happens when you lack the necessary resolve before you’re attacked but show incredible resolve once you’ve been attacked. They show the absolutely horrible price the world pays for appeasing tyrants.
Not necessarily in order of recommendation:
1. TORA! TORA! TORA! (1970)
This 1970 movie deals directly with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tora! Tora! Tora! was the Japanese code for the surprise attack. With tremendous production values, this excellent epic movie shows Japanese Admiral Tamamoto telling his commanders they are about to awake a sleeping giant. He was right. The giant should not have been sleeping. TORA! TORA! TORA! is a first-rate depiction of the attack, from both the American and the Japanese perspective.
HACKSAW RIDGE is a great Christian war movie superbly directed by Mel Gibson about Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector, who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. The entire movie is a call to faith in Jesus Christ about uncompromising faith and miraculous courage that will make you laugh and cry. It also shows how we can serve our country in unexpected ways that still honor our Christian beliefs. However, the movie contains some pretty gruesome war violence, and many mostly light obscenities pepper the movie. So, strong caution is advised.
3. MIDWAY (1976)
A Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum classic about the American defense of a small critical island the Japanese wanted to take as an air base. With great sea battles, America defended the island and turned the tide in the Pacific theater. One of the most patriotic movies of the 1970s, as well as well worth watching.
4. BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957)
The Academy Award Winning story of British prisoners in the Pacific theater forced to build a bridge by the Japanese. This is a classic David Lean drama with superb acting by Alec Guinness, William Holden, and others. It’s not to be missed.
5. THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945)
This is Director/Producer John Ford’s classic war movie about what happened in the Philippines after the Japanese attacked America’s forces there and at Pearl Harbor. As such, it tells the immediate aftermath of those attacks and how the United States struggled to get back on its feet in the wake of Pearl Harbor. It features one of John Wayne’s best performances, as well as one of Robert Montgomery and Donna Reed’s best performances (Donna would go on to make one of the greatest movies of all time, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, as George Bailey’s loving wife, in one of the greatest, most poignant female performances of all time).
6. THE LONGEST DAY (1962)
John Wayne, Sean Connery, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, and Richard Todd head an all-star cast in this 168-minute movie about D-Day. The movie wanders from place to place, telling stories of those fighting different battles that day. THE LONGEST DAY is another first-rate depiction of one of the most important battles in not only American history, but also human history.
MEMPHIS BELLE is the story of the crew of a B-17 bomber stationed at a US airbase in England and its 25th and final mission into Germany. It’s one of the few patriotic war movies made in the 1990s. It’s also a rousing, enthralling movie.
8. AIR FORCE (1943)
AIR FORCE is one of the most exciting, patriotic World War II movies. Like THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, it shows the immediate aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, focusing on a brave band of Army Air Force servicemen manning one of the few American planes that escaped destruction. Leading the All-American crew is John Garfield and the inimitable Harry Carey (MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON), with a fun turn by George Tobias of SERGEANT YORK, a great character actor from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
A spectacular big budget war movie dealing with the “day that will live in infamy.” It stars Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett as two pilots who must fight off the Japanese as they fight each other for the love of the same nurse. It is redemptive, but includes foul language and implied sexual immorality, so caution is advised.
10. MACARTHUR (1977)
Gregory Peck played General Douglas MacArthur who was recalled by FDR from the Philippines and promised to return. The movie chronicles his return and his role in post war Japan and in the Korean War.
The fight for freedom begins here at home with the fight to maintain a predominantly Christian worldview. Appeasement, socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism undermine resolve and lead to war; they don’t prevent it.
These movies show that tyrants are emboldened by weak, self-serving leaders.