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): Schepisi, Fred
Year of Publication: 1990

Based on a book by John le Carré published in 1989, this spy thriller explores shifting alliances in the late Cold War. After receiving an unsolicited manuscript documenting the weakness of Soviet nuclear capabilities, a British book publisher,...

Director(s): Jewison, Norman
Year of Publication: 1966

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming is a 1966 American comedy film based on the 1961 Nathaniel Benchley novel The Off-Islanders. When a Soviet submarine gets stuck on a sandbar off the coast of a New England island...

Director(s): Anderson, Michael
Year of Publication: 1968

After spending decades in a Siberian Gulag labor camp, Roman Catholic priest Kiril Lakota (Anthony Quinn) is set free by Russian leader Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (Sir Laurence Olivier) at the height of the Cold War, when Russia and China are locked in...

Director(s): Smyth, Richie
Year of Publication: 2016

An Irish infantry company operating under the United Nations attempts to keep the peace following the outbreak of the Congolese Civil War, which threatened to escalate the Cold War. Sent to the mineral rich state of Katanga, which had seceded...

Director(s): Ritt, Martin
Year of Publication: 1965

In this award-winning Cold War thriller based on a 1963 novel of the same title by John le Carré, a British spy goes to great lengths to uncover intelligence. At the height of the Cold War, British spy Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) is nearly ready...

Director(s): Nyby, Christian
Year of Publication: 1951

The Thing from Another World, sometimes referred to as just The Thing, is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction horror film. When scientist Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) reports a UFO near his North Pole research...

Director(s): Englund, George
Year of Publication: 1963

Unpopular with audiences and critics alike when it was released in 1963, The Ugly American offered a warning to the Cold-War obsessed United States as it headed toward full-scale intervention in Vietnam. The film is set in a fictional...

Director(s): Ken Burns
Year of Publication: 2017

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's ten-part TV series, The Vietnam War, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and...

Director(s): Langton, Simon
Year of Publication: 1986

Based on the 1984 novel of the same title by John Hale, The Whistle Blower is a British spy thriller film. Robert Jones (Nigel Havers), a Russian linguist working for a British intelligence agency, is found dead, apparently...

Director(s): Stevenson, Robert
Year of Publication: 1949

Produced at the start of the Cold War and in the wake of the Hollywood Ten, this film tackles American communism in the labor movement and its manifestations. The leader of the local cell of communists in San Francisco blackmails Brad Collins,...

Director(s): Donaldson, Roger
Year of Publication: 2000

For thirteen days in October 1962, the United States risked war with the Soviet Union when a U-2 spy plane discovered nuclear missiles in Cuba. This film dramatizes those events, focusing on the efforts of President Kennedy and his military and...

Director(s): Gadette, Fredric
Year of Publication: 1962

This Is Not a Test is a 1962 American low-budget science fiction film directed by Fredric Gadette. Produced at the height of the Cold War, the film was one of a number of productions of the late 1950s and early 1960s based upon the...

Director(s): Hamilton, Omar Robert
Year of Publication: 2013

A man returns to Palestine after living in America. Archival footage of his childhood offers a contrast to his current journey.

Director(s): Jackson, Mick
Year of Publication: 1984

Filmed during the heightened Cold War tensions in the 1980s, Threads offers a devastating account of rebuilding society in Sheffield, England, after a fictional nuclear holocaust. The plot centres on two families as a confrontation...

Director(s): Teguia, Tariq
Year of Publication: 2013

This film asks large questions about resistance, oppression, and pan-Arabism within the context of the global War on Terror. A journalist travels to Beirut to uncover the forgotten history of the Zanj revolution in the 9th century Abbasid...

Director(s): Alfredson, Tomas
Year of Publication: 2011

Based on a James le Carré novel, this thriller deals with the internal cold wars in the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the early 1970s. Forced into retirement after a botched mission in Hungary, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) returns to track...

Director(s): Scott, Tony
Year of Publication: 1986

A prime example of militarism in late Cold War America, Top Gun glamorizes the lives, service, and sacrifice of U.S. Naval Aviators. Lt. Pete Mitchell (a.k.a. Maverick) and his friend Lt. Nick Bradshaw (a.k.a. Goose) attend the Navy's...

Director(s): Hitchcock, Alfred
Year of Publication: 1966

One of Hitchcock's less esteemed efforts, Torn Curtain finds movie stars Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in a Cold War thriller. American physicist Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) shocks his friends and family by defecting to East Germany...

Director(s): Kuran, Peter
Year of Publication: 1995

Trinity and Beyond documents American nuclear testing from 1945 to 1963, when the United States., United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Interviews with those involved recount these previously classified...