Films about the Age of Second World War

This collection provides information on selected movies, TV productions and documentaries on the themes of gender, military and war in the period covered by the Oxford Handbook.

The most important wars for this period include:

  • Cold War (1946–91)
  • Arab-Israeli Conflicts (1947ff)
  • War of Indonesian Independence (1945–49)
  • Korean War (1950–53)
  • African Wars for Independence (1952ff)
  • Algerian War (1954–62)
  • Indochina Wars (1946–79)

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Director(s): Zonca, Erick
Year of Publication: 2014

This French television film explores the myths and ideas of nationalism through the Indochina War. André Cariou and Robert Tual arrive in Saigon in November 1945 with the belief that they are there to expel Japanese troops. They discover that...

Director(s): Dmytryk, Edward
Year of Publication: 1955

Soldier of Fortune is a 1955 adventure film, based on a novel by Ernest Gann published in October 1954. Jane Hoyt (Susan Hayward) comes to Hong Kong to find her husband, Louis (Gene Barry), a photojournalist who has been missing for...

Director(s): Worth, David
Year of Publication: 1986

This drama concerns a Vietnam vet who suffers at the hands of the people around him when he returns from the war. Frank Morgan (John Savage) is villified by the townsfolk because he exposed an American massacre of a Vietnamese village. When an...

Director(s): Aractingi, Philippe
Year of Publication: 2008

During a cease-fire in the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006, Tony, a Christian taxi-driver, brings Zeina, a Shiite woman from Beirut, to the heart of the conflict in the country's south. While they scour the rubble of local towns for Zeina's son,...

Director(s): Eastwood, Clint
Year of Publication: 2000

Cold War relics answer NASA's call when an aging Russian satellite threatens Earth. Retired Air Force officers sidelined in the U.S. space program guide the astronauts' airwalk to repair the satellite. An accident threatens the mission.

Director(s): Zwick, Edward
Year of Publication: 1983

This made-for-television film about nuclear weapons, hostage demands, and media coverage reflects Cold War tensions in the early 1980s. A perfectly typical broadcast evening on a major network is interrupted by a shocking special news bulletin....

Director(s): Mann, Anthony
Year of Publication: 1955

This Cold War propaganda film was designed to win public and Congressional support for the new U.S. Strategic Air Command, a key point in the Nuclear Triad. Recalled World War II veteran and baseball star Lt. Col. Robert "Dutch" Holland learns to...

Director(s): Reitman, Ivan
Year of Publication: 1981

This classic American comedy blends together military incompetence and Cold War politics. Hard-luck cabbie John Winger (Bill Murray) – directionless after being fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend – enlists in the U.S. Army with his...

Director(s): Drabo, Adama
Year of Publication: 1997

Inspired by the role of women in the Mali Civil War, this film focuses on the reversal of gender roles when a group of women find a mystical mask. Although a comedy, Skirt Power offers a powerful commentary on the status of women in...

Director(s): Batty, Peter
Year of Publication: 1984

This five-part television series, directed by Peter Batty, for BBC Channel Four and Radio Télévision Belge Francophone on the Algerian War, documents the momentous struggle for independence from France by Algerian nationalists between 1954 and...

Director(s): Weisberg, Joe
Year of Publication: 2013

The Americans presents a measured analysis of late Cold War international politics through its focus on marriage, family, and personal relationships. In the 1980s, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings are Soviet spies living as Americans in...

Director(s): Loader, Jayne
Year of Publication: 1982

The Atomic Cafe is a 1982 American Cold War documentary film, created from a broad range of archival material from the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s including newsreel clips, television news footage, U.S. government-produced films (...

Director(s): Harris, James B.
Year of Publication: 1965

Richard Widmark portrays the captain of a newly launched U.S. Destroyer who is obsessed with hunting down a particular Soviet submarine regardless of the great risks involved. His salty character clashes with a quick-witted journalist (Sydney...

Director(s): Seaton, George
Year of Publication: 1950

The Big Lift is a 1950 drama film shot in black-and-white on location in the city of Berlin that tells the story of "Operation Vittles", the Berlin Blockade in 1948, through the experiences of two U.S. Air Force sergeants. As British and...

Director(s): Robson, Mark
Year of Publication: 1954
Major Wars:

Based on a 1953 novel by Pulitzer-Prize winner James Michener, this film explores the ambiguity of war through an American naval pilot during the Korean War (1950–1953). Naval Reservist pilot Lt. Harry Brubaker (William Holden) is stationed on an...

Director(s): Mikael Salomon
Year of Publication: 2007

Three Yale grads, class of 1954, join their respective countries' secret service. This series follows them for 40 years - through the outing of a British spy, the Hungarian revolution, the Bay of Pigs, the scent of moles, and the collapse of the...

Director(s): Meyer, Nicholas
Year of Publication: 1983

The Day After postulates a fictional war between the NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact countries that rapidly escalates into a full-scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. The action itself focuses on the...

Director(s): Wise, Robert
Year of Publication: 1951

Unlike other Cold War science-fiction films of the early 1950s that that engaged in fearmongering, The Day the Earth Stood Still offered a message of peace. When a UFO lands in Washington, D.C., bearing a message for Earth's leaders, all...

Director(s): Iannucci, Armando
Year of Publication: 2017

In early-1953 Moscow, under the Great Terror's heavy cloak of state paranoia, the ever-watchful Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, collapses, unexpectedly, of a brain haemorrhage. As a result, when someone discovers his body the following morning, a...

Director(s): Cimino, Michael
Year of Publication: 1978

In this acclaimed, Oscar-winning war drama, directed by Michael Cimino, the Vietnam War shatters the lives of a group of friends from a small industrial town in Pennsylvania. While in Vietnam, the three friends, played by Robert de Niro, John...