Despite the new World War II drama Darkest Hour now playing in theaters nationwide, “Who was Winston Churchill?” still sounds like a question you’re likely to find on one of those ‘the dumbing down of America has happened’ videos. While Churchill may not have been American, himself, his influence and importance in the events of the mid-20th Century cannot be overstated. Winston Churchill was elected Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940, a position he held throughout the remainder of World War II and again from 1951 to 1955. Before his career in politics he had worked as a writer and served as a member of the British Army. His election in 1940 came at a time when Britain’s, and indeed the future of the whole of Western Europe was uncertain. Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and, by the time of Churchill’s election, was already marching across France, pushing British forces to the shores of the English Channel, where the famous evacuation at Dunkirk took place (if you haven’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, I highly recommend it!).
With the United States still hesitant to enter the war effort in either Europe or the Pacific, the newly appointed Prime Minister was faced with the choice of either regrouping and rallying national support to continue the war effort against Nazi Germany, or agreeing to sign a peace accord with Hitler and the Axis Powers. As the United Kingdom stood at the brink of invasion, it was up to Churchill to persuade Parliament, King George VI, and the people of Britain that the war could be won and that it was worth fighting, an extremely difficult prospect considering the ever-growing influence of Nazi Germany and the reluctance of the United States to enter the war. Continue reading →
There are few interesting indie releases opening in local theaters this weekend, alongside Jordan Peele’s directorial horror debut Get Out. The first is a war-drama titled Bitter Harvest, starring Max Irons (The Host, Woman in Gold) and Samantha Barks (Les Miserables, The Christmas Candle) as lovers facing the oncoming Ukraine Genocide of 1932-1933 under Joseph Stalin. The film comes from director George Mendeluk and follows a young artists (Irons) as he works to save his love, Natalka (Barks), from being rounded up and executed as part of the death-by-starvation camps that would be made all the more famous during Hitler’s time in Nazi Germany during World War II. The script comes from writer Richard Bachynsky Hoover and co-stars Terence Stamp (Superman, Young Guns) and Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile). Continue reading →
Alone in Berlin and 13 Minutes, both dramas centered upon characters living in WWII Germany, have new trailers available for their upcoming US releases. Alone in Berlin, which tells the story of real-life Nazi-protestors Otto and Elise Hampel, received mixed reviews at last year’s Berlin Film Festival. Although the story of Hampel, named Quangel in the film, is both amazing and inspiring, critics have come down hard on director Vincent Perez having the actors speak in English, but use German accents and because of overwhelmingly amateur and obviously staged set and camera work. The ending is also reportedly horrible and undeserving of such a powerful story. Had the project been in the hands of a more experienced, or dedicated filmmaker, it might have really done well, especially considering the material. Continue reading →
This week’s Memorable Movie Moment takes us back to director John Sturges‘ 1963 war-era classic, The Great Escape. Set in a POW camp in Nazi Germany, the film follows the true story of a group of Allied prisoners who sought to accomplish the biggest jail break ever conceived, scattering more than 200 Allied troops across the country in an effort to divert Nazi war efforts on finding and re-capturing the escaped soldiers. The Great Escape is famous for a number of reasons. It featured an all-star cast including Steve McQueen (The Cincinnati Kid, The Sand Pebbles), James Garner (The Rockford Files, The Notebook), Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park, Elizabeth), Charles Bronson (Once Upon A Time In The West, Death Wish), Donald Pleasance (Halloween, Escape From New York), and James Coburn (The Muppet Movie, In Like Flint), several of which were actual POWs with the Allied Forces during World War II. It also set and broke a number of on-screen records, ranging from the scale of the production (an entire replica of a real-life German POW camp was built in which to shoot the film) to the impressive array of stunts. Continue reading →
Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
Today we decided to take a look at some of the more accurate historical films ever seen on the big screen. Historical accuracy tends to be one of the staples of a great period picture, and God knows there’s plenty of historically inaccurate movies out there. So check out our list here on MADE of most historically accurate films and be sure to scratch some off your list if you haven’t seen any of the selections. You might even learn a thing or two in the process! Continue reading →
Veteran actress Madeleine LeBeau (8 1/2, Angelique), who was the last living cast member of 1942’s Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and Ingrid Bergman (Notorious, Autumn Sonata), has passed away at the age of 92. LeBeau starred as Bogart’s mistress, Yvonne, in a role that mirrored her own experience as a European refugee at the height of the Nazi occupation. LeBeau had made her debut in France with a film called Girls in Distress in 1939 before fleeing with her husband to Spain. They eventually entered the United States with temporary Canadian passports and went to Hollywood to find work. Both LeBeau and her husband, actor Marcel Dalio, were cast in supporting roles in Casablanca, and LeBeau would make two more films (Paris After Dark, Music for Millions) before returning to France following the end of World War II. She would continue to work as an actress until her retirement from the screen in 1970. LeBeau died on May 1st in Spain after breaking her hip.
Although starring in one of the most successful film franchises of all time hasn’t always been great for acting careers (with the exception of Harrison Ford), that doesn’t seem to be the case with The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley. The young actress has just signed on to star in a new drama called The Lost Wife, a remake of the Israeli film Kolma. The Force Awakens and Star Trek director J.J. Abrams will be producing the project for Marielle Heller (A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Diary of a Teenage Girl), who will direct the film. Unlike many of her co-stars, who signed on for follow-up projects once it was announced they would be appearing in Star Wars, Ridley held off on contractual obligations until after the first film was already released in theaters. She is currently filming the second installment in the new Star Wars trilogy, which is being headed by director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Looper). The Lost Wife is based on the book by Alyson Richman about a young couple in pre-World War II Prague who fall in love and are remorsefully separated when the Nazi’s invade the country in 1939. The script was adapted by Marc Klein (Serendipity, A Good Year), and the producers are aiming to show the film at Cannes before it opens to worldwide audiences. We’ll keep you posted for further updates.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening in theaters nationwide tomorrow, you can expect movie theaters to be jam-packed this weekend with old and new generation fans alike. There are, however, a number of smaller, independent projects coming out this weekend that we like to take the time to shine the spotlight on. The first is a new war drama titled Son of Saul (originally Saul fia) from writer/director Laszlo Nemes (The Counterpart, The Gentlemen Takes His Leave), which received excellent recognition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Taking place in the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz, in 1944, the film follows a prisoner who attempts to find redemption by saving a boy he adopts as his son from the furnaces of the camp that he has been forced to subject many of his own people to. Starring in the film are actors Geza Rohrig, Levente Molnar (Morgen, Our Big Time), Urs Rechn (Eight Miles High, The King’s Surrender), and Todd Charmont (The Last of the Mohicans, Strangers). Continue reading →
This Friday you can see the new movie, Mortdecai, from director David Koepp (Secret Window, Premium Rush), based on Kyril Bonfiglioli‘s novel Don’t Point That Thing At Me. The film stars Johnny Depp in the role of eccentric art-dealer Charlie Mortdecai, with Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal, Iron Man), Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, The Men Who Stare At Goats), Olivia Munn (Iron Man 2, The Newsroom), Paul Bettany (The DaVinci Code, Legion), and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day) making up the supporting cast. Screenwriter Eric Aronson (On The Line) adapted the script for the big screen, which follows Mortdecai on his pursuit of a painting rumored to contain the location of lost Nazi gold. Here’s the trailer one more time, enjoy!
Director David Koepp (Secret Window, Premium Rush) will see his latest film Mortdecai open in theaters this January 23rd. Starring Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland) as the title character, the movie is based on a series of novels by author Kyril Bonfiglioli titled Don’t Point That Thing At Me, following the fictional character Charlie Mortdecai. Portrayed as a comical, yet psychotic anti-hero in the novel, the movie follows Mortdecai as he searches for a stolen painting believed to contain the key to a lost Nazi bank account. Gwyneth Paltrow (Seven, Iron Man), Ewen McGregor (Big Fish, The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Paul Bettany (The DaVinci Code, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) also star in the movie, which was adapted by screenwriter Eric Aronson (On The Line). Check out the trailer here on MADE, and I would at least consider giving this one a shot on the big screen. The novels received critical acclaim when they were released back in the 1970s, and the supporting cast seems strong enough to not have to rely entirely on Johnny Depp for the duration of the movie, but I leave the choice to you.