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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: War [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Operation Pacific
Set during WW II, this film casts John Wayne as Duke Gifford, two-fisted submarine commander. Patricia Neal co-stars as Mary Stuart, Duke's former wife. Duke's hopes of staging a reconciliation are constantly interrupted by a series of life-threatening circumstances, capped by the rescue of a group of orphans from a Japanese-held island. Featured in the cast are old John Wayne cronies Ward Bond and Jack Pennick, as well as TV's future Jim Bowie, Scott Forbes. Operation Pacific might prove a fascinating companion feature to 1964's In Harm's Way, which reteamed John Wayne and Patricia Neal in another WW II Navy yarn. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gunga Din
Though Rudyard Kipling's poem Gunga Din makes a swell recital piece, it cannot be said to have much of a plot. It's simply a crude cockney soldier's tribute to a native Indian water boy who remains at his job even after being mortally wounded. Hardly the sort of material upon which to build 118 minutes' worth of screen time-at least, it wasn't until RKO producer Pandro S. Berman decided to convert Gunga Din into an A-budgeted feature film. Now it became the tale of three eternally brawling British sergeants stationed in colonial India: Cutter (Cary Grant), McChesney (Victor McLaglen) and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). Ballantine intends to break up the threesome by marrying lovely Emmy Stebbins (Joan Fontaine), while Cutter and McChesney begin hatching diabolical schemes to keep Ballantine in the army (if this plot element sounds a lot like something from the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, bear in mind that Hecht and McArthur shared writing credit on Gunga Din with Joel Sayre and Fred Guiol; also contributing to the screenplay, uncredited, was William Faulkner). All three sergeants are kept occupied with a native revolt fomented by the Thuggees, a fanatical religious cult headed by a Napoleonic Guru (Eduardo Ciannelli). Unexpectedly coming to the rescue of our three heroes-not to mention every white man, woman and child in the region-is humble water carrier Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who aspires to become the regimental trumpeter. Originally slated to be directed by Howard Hawks, Gunga Din was taken out of Hawks' hands when the director proved to be too slow during the filming of Bringing Up Baby. His replacement was George Stevens, who proved to be slower and more exacting than Hawks had ever been! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

What Price Porky
A huge flock of predatory ducks--who look like Daffy but sound like Donald--steal all the corn from Porky Pig's chickens. This act of aggression leads to an all-out war, on land and in the air. At first the ducks have the advantage, but Porky manages to emerge triumphant with the help of a reconverted washing machine. Though the makeshift tanks, airplanes and machine guns are drawn in comic fashion, the action is disturbingly reminiscent of genuine wartime combat footage...and remember, we're still a year or so away from the outbreak of World War 2! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Dawn Patrol
This 1938 remake of Howard Hawks' 1930 film The Dawn Patrol is faithful to the original's basic plotline. The story is set during World War I; the scene is the French headquarters of the British Royal Flying Corps, 59th division. The corps is suffering heavy losses, a fact that ace pilot Courtney (Errol Flynn) ascribes to the supposed ruthlessness of squadron commander Brand (Basil Rathbone). What the audience knows that Courtney doesn't is that Brand is distraught at losing his men, but is forced by his own superiors to push the pilots beyond their limits. After being accused day after day of being a butcher, Brand takes grim delight in turning over his command to Courtney. Soon Courtney finds himself enduring the "butcher" tag, especially after the younger brother of his best friend Scott (David Niven) is killed. To redeem himself, Courtney gets Scott drunk and takes his place in a suicidal bombing mission. Courtney is killed, Scott assumes command, and the cycle begins again. The extensive use of combat scenes from the original Dawn Patrol has led some viewers to assume that the 1930 version is the superior of the two. In fact, the remake is far better than the original on several counts, not least of which was the star power of Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in their third screen teaming. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Battle of the Bulge
In December of 1944, the Allied high command is convinced that German forces in Belgium are in a low state of readiness, and perhaps even about to withdraw. Only one officer on the front lines, intelligence specialist Lt. Col. Kiley (Henry Fonda), believes otherwise -- that the Germans are actually planning an attack. His opinion is rejected by his immediate superior (Dana Andrews) and his commanding general (Robert Ryan). Kiley spots several suspicious signs of German activity behind enemy lines on a reconnaissance flight, and he is at the front looking for evidence when the German counter-offensive starts. Taking advantage of Allied unpreparedness and a weather front that grounds all aircraft, their heavy tank units, supported by infantry, roll over the American forces, assaulting the lines at five different points in an attempt to ultimately divide the Allied forces in the west. The German top tank officer, Colonel Hessler (Robert Shaw), has planned his operation perfectly, but he is in a race against time, to take as much territory as possible before the weather front moves out and American aircraft can fly again, and to capture the American fuel supplies so that the offensive can continue right to the port of Antwerp. He has the total dedication of his men, but engenders doubts from his aide, Conrad (Hans-Christian Blech), who is weary of the fighting and wonders what it is all for. Meanwhile, Kiley is trying to uncover the weak spot in the German offensive, and he crosses paths with several other key players in this drama: Charles Bronson as a combat officer charged with the defense of the collapsing American position, James MacArthur as a neophyte lieutenant who becomes a leader, and Telly Savalas as a conniving sergeant in command of a tank who unexpectedly finds a nobler, less mercenary side of himself. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • John Wayne
    John Wayne - Cmdr. "Duke" Gifford
  • Patricia Neal
    Patricia Neal - Mary Stuart
  • Ward Bond
    Ward Bond - Capt. "Pop" Perry
  • Scott Forbes
    Scott Forbes - Larry
  • Philip Carey
    Philip Carey - Bob Perry
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