5 War Films on getTV in May


Movies and the military have gone together for as long as the medium has existed. From the silent epics of World War I, to Hollywood’s morale campaign of the 1940s, to the increasingly realistic portrayals of Vietnam and contemporary conflicts, film has depicted our troops for more than a century. Television, too, has told stories of American soldiers — from the service sitcoms of the 1950s and ‘60s to hyper-realistic dramas like getTV’s newest series The Unit.   

This May, getTV will present a collection of diverse films and TV episodes that depict the lives and service of American soldiers: Sahara (1943) with Humphrey Bogart, Okinawa (1952) with Pat O’Brien, Hellcats of the Navy (1957) with Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960) with Jack Lemmon, and The Hunt for Eagle One: Crash Point (2006) with Mark Dacascos. Plus, we’ll pay tribute to those who serve with a 24-hour Memorial Day marathon of The Unit on May 27 — every episode from season one from 6a until 7p ET, then again from 7p to 6a ET.

Here’s a guide to our salute to soldiers in May — with airdates so you can be in precise formation!

1. Okinawa (1952) — May 1 at 1p ET and May 26 at 6p ET

On April 1, 1945, the Allies launched the last major offensive of World War II: the Battle of Okinawa. This fast-paced docu-drama is set as that decisive battle begins. Pat O’Brien (Some Like It Hot) stars as Lt. Cmdr. Hale, the by-the-books captain of a Navy destroyer in the thick of the fight. Richard Denning (Creature From The Black Lagoon) is his first lieutenant with Cameron Mitchell (The High Chaparral) and Rhys Williams (The Rifleman) as gunner’s mates. Extensive use of newsreel footage of the actual events gives the film the look and feel of a documentary. Look for Marilyn Monroe in an unbilled cameo, as a scene from Ladies Of The Chorus (1948) is screened for the crew before the main battle begins.

2. The Hunt for Eagle One: Crash Point (2006) — May 11 at 1p ET

When terrorists crash a passenger jet into a U.S. airbase in the Philippines, a strike force of Marines is deployed to make sure they don’t do it again. Martial artist Mark Dacascos (Hawaii Five-0) stars as the driven team commander, with Theresa Randall (Bad Boys) as a loose cannon pilot and Jeff Fahey (Lost) as the colonel. Filmed on location in Southeast Asia, this tense military thriller from producer Roger Corman will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’re enjoying The Unit on getTV, this film’s post-September 11 themes and team dynamics make for a perfect companion piece.

3. Hellcats of the Navy (1957) — May 25 at 3:35p ET

Future president and first lady Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan co-starred for the first and only time in this drama based on a book by Vice-Admiral Charles A. Lockwood and Col. Hans Christian Adamson. Forty-six-year-old Reagan plays Casey Abbott, a World War II sub commander who inadvertently causes the death of his romantic rival (Harry Lauter). This leads to friction with his executive officer (Arthur Franz) as they embark on an impossible mission in Japan’s Tsushima Strait. Hellcats — the title refers to a nickname for the Navy’s sub fleet — features an introduction by real life Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz (portrayed in the film by Selmer Jackson) and some tense underwater sequences courtesy of director Nathan Juran (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad).

4. The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960) — May 25 at 5:30p ET

Oscar winner Jack Lemmon (Mister Roberts) and heartthrob Ricky Nelson (Ozzie & Harriet) star in this comedy about the USS Echo, a rickety sailing scow borrowed from the New Zealand government and used as a supply ship from 1942-1944. Lemmon plays the skipper who reluctantly assumes command and captains the Echo on a mission so secret he isn’t even aware of it. Nelson is his handsome young ensign, the only member of the inept crew who has any experience with a sailing ship. Based on the memoir of the real-life Echo captain, The Wackiest Ship also features Richard Anderson (The Six Million Dollar Man), John Lund (A Foreign Affair), Alvy Moore (Green Acres), and Chips Rafferty as the Australian operative the Echo must transport under cover. Part comedy, part action film, The Wackiest Ship is as inspirational as it is funny. And yes, Ricky Nelson sings a song.

5. Sahara (1943) — May 26 at 7:40p ET

Humphrey Bogart is best remembered for his tough guy roles for Warner Bros., but none are tougher than U.S. Army Master Sergeant Joe Gunn. On loan from his home studio to Columbia Pictures and director Zoltan Korda, Bogart stars as the commander of a tank populated with a motley collection of Allies (and one Italian prisoner) in North Afrca in 1942. The 10-man crew of the Lulu Belle — including Americans Waco (Bruce Bennett) and Doyle (Dan Duryea), Brits Halliday (Richard Aherne) and Clarkson (Lloyd Bridges), British Sudanese Tambul (Rex Ingram), South African Stegman (Guy Kingsford), and a Free French corporal (Louis Mercier) — engages in a standoff with the Nazis over water. Sahara features a brilliant adapted screenplay by James O’Hanlon and John Howard Lawson (with Korda), Academy Award-nominated cinematography by Rudolph Mate, and an Oscar-nominated performance by J. Carrol Naish as the Italian soldier. Plus, it has a finale that is among the most unforgettable in ‘40s war films.

For more, visit the getTV schedule.