Welcome to Thursday. Last week I was doing the blogathon thing and didn't take part in the weekly exercise that is Thursday Movie Picks hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, but now I'm back. I wish I could say I had an amusing story to tell leading into the topic at hand, but I don't. I mean, who does? We're talking about World War II. Just know there are more movies about this war than you can shake a tank at. Let's see if at least one of the three is something you haven't seen before.
A Soldier's Story
(1984)During WWII, black NCOs and officers only commanded black troops. Black troops were not allowed to fight, only allowed to serve in support roles, such as cooks and janitors until very late in the war. Master Sergeant Waters was a black NCO who was murdered on-base at Fort Neal, Louisiana. Of course, a black officer, Captain Davenport is sent to investigate the crime. The film combines plenty of flashbacks with Davenport's investigation to create a riveting piece of cinema. The underrated Howard Rollins (later, of TV's In the Heat of the Night) turns in an excellent performance as Davenport in a movie full of them. Adolph Caesar is simply phenomenal as Sgt. Waters, earning himself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. One of the younger members of the cast is also incredible. That would be one Denzel Washington, appearing in only his second film.
The Tuskegee Airmen
(1995)Remember that whole thing about black soldiers not being allowed to fight during WWII? This film tells a true story that came out of this policy. After much lobbying, the U.S. Army reluctantly agreed to experimentally train a bunch of African Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama. Prevailing "wisdom" of the time, at least among whites, is this experiment will fail because blacks simply do not have the mental capabilities necessary for operating such complicated machinery as airplanes. No, I'm serious. If you don't see the movie, read up on it. It's a fascinating story, and this is a very good film on the matter. In 2012, George Lucas made a watered-down version of the same story called Red Tails. He does seem to have some genuine interest in the story. After all, he spent $50 million of his own money to make it because no one in Hollywood would touch it. However, his main reason for making it is pretty much so he could show aerial combat like it's never been seen before. This means he used tons of CGI. Imagine that.
Miracle at St. Anna
(2008)For this tale about WWII, we're stationed in the Tuscany region of Italy and led by director Spike Lee. Four black soldiers find themselves holed up in a small village behind enemy lines after saving the life of a small Italian boy. They form something of a bond with the its residents. In particular, two of the soldiers wind up in a love triangle with a beautiful local girl. Truth told, this is easily the weakest of the three films in this post, but it is an interesting piece of work and not as bad as its reputation.