Von Ryan Express

The 10 Best Prisoner of War Movies

By Bernardo Viotti

War has been a favorite topic of cinema from the very beginning of the medium. Few experiences can compare to the extremes of war, the stakes are huge and few subjects make for such compelling narratives. It’s no coincidence that Hollywood’s Golden Age ran right through World War II, starting in the mid-thirties and continuing on to the early fifties.

However, there is a particular genre of war film that didn’t have its heyday during the war, but after– in part because it focused on an aspect of the fighting which filmmakers weren’t eager to highlight during the conflict –the genre of films that deal with the experiences of prisoners of war.

As a whole, films in this genre tend to follow a set structure. Men from different walks of life, sometimes different countries are imprisoned together under the harsh circumstances of war and must band together to escape.

POW movies provide more than a convenient movie formula, they make for perennial classics because they explore universal themes of human nature, our capacity for self-sacrifice and the unshakable determination that comes with the innate desire for freedom.

10. Von Ryan’s Express (1965)

Staring Frank Sinatra as the complex Colonel Von Ryan– an American officer despite the German name –who leads a group of British and American POWs on a mission to escape the Italian peninsula after they capture the train transporting them from Southern Italy into the German heartland.

Conceived after the success of The Great Escape, Von Ryan’s Express can at times feel like a cheesy imitation that adds the train element to keep things fresh. The performances aren’t always convincing, the rear-projection effects haven’t aged well and the film’s attempts at humor fall largely flat, but if we’re willing to overlook its flaws, the film can be → continue…

From:: Taste Of Cinema