Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

The greatest American war hero movies ever

  • The greatest American war hero movies ever

    As America gears up to celebrate its 242nd birthday, it's important to pay tribute to the people who made the United States what it is today. While Americans can read about notable battles through historical documents, books, and newspapers, there’s nothing like being able to see and hear the incredible efforts that have contributed to the creation of America. That’s why war movies are so valuable: they often give the viewer a glimpse into the trials and tribulations of true patriotism and the sacrifices American heroes have made for their homeland.

    In honor of Independence Day
    the holiday, not the movieStacker ranked the greatest American war hero movies ever. These are the women and men of Hollywood who have stepped into the shoes of the greatest heroes in American historyboth real and fictional, and made audiences proud to be Americans. Using IMDb user rankings, this list contains war movies that were produced in English and received at least 5,000 votes. In the case of any ties in user rankings, the higher slot was given to the film that had more total votes. Read on to see how many Spielberg war films landed on the list and which two Kubrick classics made it to the top five.

    RELATED STORY: Click here to see the most popular war movies of all time

  • #45. In Harm's Way

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 6,974
    Release year: 1965
    Director: Otto Preminger

    Major macho men John Wayne and Kirk Douglas topline this tale of post-World War II revenge. A Navy officer (Wayne) goes after the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but finds himself rebuked for breaking protocol. After being promoted to Rear Admiral, Wayne’s character finds redemption in his revenge on the Japanese in the South Pacific. The last black-and-white John Wayne film, “In Harm’s Way” was nominated for an Academy Award for its exquisite cinematography.

  • #44. Father Goose

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 8,329
    Release year: 1964
    Director: Ralph Nelson

    A World War II aircraft spotter finds himself in an unexpectedly paternal role while stationed on a remote island with a school teacher and her seven pupils. Cary Grant plays the lead opposite Leslie Caron in this wartime love story that won the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1965.

  • #43. Little Boy

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 20,169
    Release year: 2015
    Director: Alejandro Monteverde

    Little Boy” tells the story of a Pepper Busbee, a child living in World War II-era California who is dealing with his father going off to war, alongside the ensuing rise of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. After his dad deploys, the boy befriends a Japanese man named Hashimoto and learns the true power of humanity. Emma Watson, Kevin James, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (“The Man in the High Castle”) star in the film, which didn’t rate highly with professional critics.

  • #42. Mudbound

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 26,622
    Release year: 2017
    Director: Dee Rees

    This Netflix movie is as much about racism as it is about war. When an African-American soldier returns to his rural Mississippi home, he finds that his service isn’t enough to break through the color barrier in the Jim Crow South. Nominated for four Academy Awards and two Golden Globes, “Mudbound” gave singer Mary J. Blige the most celebrated acting role of her career.

  • #41. Lincoln

    IMDb user rating: 7.4
    IMDb user votes: 219,759
    Release year: 2012
    Director: Steven Spielberg

    One of America’s most beloved presidents gets the Spielberg treatment in this sprawling two-and-a-half-hour biopic that tracks Abraham Lincoln’s presidency during the final days of the Civil War. Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for his work as the commander in chief; the rest of the cast featured big names including Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

  • #40. Friendly Persuasion

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    IMDb user votes: 5,529
    Release year: 1956
    Director: William Wyler

    Mid-century heartthrob Gary Cooper led the way in this tale of a pacifist Quaker family drawn into the drama of the Civil War. Although the script was penned by Michael Wilson, it was released without a screenwriting credit because the writer was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Affairs Committee. Regardless, Wilson was still nominated for the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.

  • #39. Battleground

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    IMDb user votes: 5,811
    Release year: 1949
    Director: William A. Wellman

    Known as one of the first significant war movies released after World War II, “Battleground” follows an Army airborne division as its soldiers get trapped during the Siege of Bastogne—a major element of the Battle of the Bulge. Van Johnson gets star billing in the film that went on to receive a number of Academy Award nominations, including victories for black-and-white cinematography and writing.

  • #38. Tora! Tora! Tora!

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    IMDb user votes: 27,819
    Release year: 1970
    Directors: Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda

    The attack on Pearl Harbor gets told from both sides in “Tora! Tora! Tora!” The title of the film is based on the Japanese word for achieving a total surprise victory. Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was originally supposed to direct the Japanese scenes of the film, but was replaced by Fukasaku and Masuda just two weeks into shooting.

  • #37. Lone Survivor

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    IMDb user votes: 234,658
    Release year: 2013
    Director: Peter Berg

    Based on a nonfiction war memoir, “Lone Survivor” tells the true story of an American Navy SEAL unit who infiltrates Afghanistan to capture a Taliban leader, but winds up surrounded and has to escape against all odds. As the title suggests, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) becomes the lone survivor of the mission, thanks to help from an Afghani local.

  • #36. Sahara

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    IMDb user votes: 6,891
    Release year: 1943
    Director: Zoltan Korda

    Humphrey Bogart stars as an American tank commander charged with fighting Nazis in Libya during World War II. Not to be confused with the 2005 Matthew McConaughey film or its 1995 made-for-TV remake starring Jim Belushi, this “Sahara” came out nearly 11 months after Bogart’s iconic performance in another war film set in North Africa: “Casablanca.”