In this section I try to give you a complete list of paratrooper related movies, TV series and documentaries. The more recent movies I have actually seen (many times) have been reviewed at length on other sites, so I will link to reviews I find worthwhile. I have also included some other WWII movies that have nothing to do with paratroopers but that you have to see if you’re into WWII movies.
|Band of Brothers
The quintessential HBO TV series by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. This series really started off the paratrooper collection and re-enactor hype. I have the DVD box and still enjoy watching it every now and then. Mark Bando has written an exhaustive review about it from a historian’s and collector’s point of view. I recommend you read it and learn.
|Saving Private Ryan
This legendary D-Day movie got the Ranger hype going, but there’s a lot of paratrooper time in it too. A true classic!
|The Longest Day
Speaking of classics, this is perhaps the biggest one. The DVD pictured here is the original black and white version, but a color version also exist and if you don’t know any better, it looks like it has actually been filmed in color. The story is based on true events (duuuh!), but it’s riddled with uniform, insignia and equipment mistakes. John Wayne with the parachutist first aid kit on his helmet, for example. Really sad if you figure that in those days there was no need to reproduce anything, and there was no lack of veterans to advise the director.
The story of the Battled Bastards of Bastogne, the 101st Airborne. This movie was made in 1948, which makes it one of the first paratrooper movies. It’s in black and white, but real good quality and the story pretty much follows that of Seven Roads to Hell (but isn’t based on it, because that book wasn’t out yet).
|Battle of the Bulge
This movie covers the Battle of the Bulge at large, as opposed to the previous one which focusses on the paratroopers.
|A Bridge Too Far
This movie is almost as famous as The Longest Days and also features a 5-star cast. It covers the ill-fated Market Garden operation in Holland. The focus is more on the British paratroopers, but it’s still a great movie.
|Where Eagles Dare
This one is pure fiction, but really a classic WWII movie with Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.
|The Dirty Dozen
Another fiction story. Quinten Tarentino based part of his new movie Inglourious Basterds on this movie with Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson…
|The Big Red One
Another one with Lee Marvin. This one is about the history of the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One”. The DVD pictured here is the 2-disc special edition. The first DVD is the director’s cut, which is longer than the original movie, and it has been fully remastered. The second disc includes worthwhile extra features.
|Parachutisten Vallen Aan
This is the Dutch title of a BBC documentary about the paratroops in WWII. The DVD comes with a book. It’s mostly about the creation and history of the British paratroops in WWII. It’s alright, but not great.
This is my favorite WWII movie. It follows the legendary general but also covers most of the WWII battlefields in North Africa, so there’s a lot to be learned. I won’t even start to quote here, because there are so many good lines it this movie.
The famous story about the B-17 Flying Fortress, the “Memphis Belle”. Really well made and actually filmed inside the B-17 which makes it very realistic. Also in terms of aircraft, uniforms and sets, this movie is very well made.
|Flags of our Fathers
This movie and the next one were produced and directed by Clint Eastwood in 2007. I generally love his movies, but these aren’t his best from a cinema/drama point of view. Still, these are very good movies, but I think they are more meant as personal historical pamphlets than entertaining movies. The concept is very original: the same battle is shown from both the American0 and these Japanese point of view. In two movies.
|Letters from Iwo Jima
This is the second part, picturing the Japanese point of view.
suggest you see “operation burma” with errol flynn — very good early movie of wwII paratroop operation in burma — at least they are wearing the original jump jackets, and some good jump and airdrop footage ..
Thanks for the tip! I will try to get my hands on a DVD.
Add “Paratrooper” AKA “The Red Beret”. Also add “Theirs Is the Glory”.
Hi Richard, thanks for your suggestions. I need to review this movie-section and add more titles, old and recent ones.