Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Movies

I knew that Turner Classic Movies would have a weekend–long Memorial Day salute, but I was disappointed, after looking at the schedule, to find that the most recent film in the lineup is 1970's "Kelly's Heroes" at 4:30 p.m. (Central) on Monday.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think "Kelly's Heroes" has some impressive performances, although it wasn't quite up to the standards of the films to which it was compared, "M*A*S*H" and "Catch–22."

And I really don't think there is anything wrong with the films that were chosen for TCM's 72–hour film marathon. It's hard for me to criticize a lineup that includes "Sergeant York," "Action in the North Atlantic" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai," as well as several other classic films that pay homage to those who have served and continue to serve.

But I felt, when I saw the schedule, that it needed a film that gave a realistic portrayal of war for today's generation. The movies on this weekend's schedule are good, but they seem almost sugar–coated in an era of roadside bombs and hijacked planes crashing into buildings.

There are battle sequences galore in this movie marathon, but they're Hollywood battle sequences.

If we are going to have a day that is set aside for remembering the sacrifices that have been made, we need to show films that give an unflinching glimpse into what war is really like. My thinking is that, if we do that, future Americans, from the president on down, will be less indifferent about taking actions that can lead to war.

My choice would have been something like "Schindler's List," a great Steven Spielberg film that shows how blithely the Nazis often applied violence even before the mass executions had begun — and also shows that people don't have to be perfect to be heroes — just heroic.

Unfortunately, that film isn't on the TCM schedule in the near future, but a week from next Friday — June 5 — on the night before the 65th anniversary of the D–Day landing, TCM will show another great Spielberg film, "Saving Private Ryan."

And, I guess, if you're only going to show that movie once, the time to show it is on the D–Day anniversary, not on Memorial Day. I have attached a clip from the movie showing the landing at Omaha Beach. It is truly horrific, and it tells the story of what being under enemy fire is like.

Watch the clip, but watch the whole movie as well. It's on at 8:30 p.m. (Central) on Friday, June 5.