To a civilian audience, Hollywood tries its best to convey to them what it’s like to serve in the military in ninety-minute pieces. They’ve had their share of mishaps. However, there are a few exceptional instances in which they truly shine.
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When it comes to big-budget war movies, the Army and Marines tend to get all the attention, leaving the Navy out in the cold. As a general rule, the Navy SEALs or Top Gun are given the credit when sailors appear on the big screen. Even mentioning Top Gun in this list would annoy most sailors because they’ve already seen it.
Here are six outstanding films about sailors, listed in no particular order, that you should add to your watchlist:
1. Crimson Tide
While Crimson Tide does not depict a scenario in which Russia and the United States engage in another Bay of Pigs conflict, it does indicate what could have happened had it.
Gene Hackman’s irascible Captain is paired with Denzel Washington as the cool-headed XO. They can’t agree on what to do to avoid a third world war. Fun Fact: Quentin Tarantino penned a lot of the dialogue, even though he wasn’t credited.
2. Master and Commander
This film, set during the Napoleonic Wars, focuses strongly on the significance of completing the objective and protecting the welfare of the troops below. The crew of the HMS Surprise are engaged in a battle with French pirates that seems to be going on forever.
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards in its first year of release—including Best Picture and Director—the film lost out to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in every category except Cinematography and Sound Editing.
Jake Huard (James Franco), a student at the Naval Academy, is the focus of the indie drama Annapolis. One man’s journey to become one of society’s elite is depicted in this film. While it’s unclear which path the protagonist will choose, it’s still entrenched in Navy culture and has a Marine feel to it.
With a home release, it was able to regain some of its lost ground at the box office. Because it depicts hazing, the Navy Department advocated for the film to be boycotted. In my opinion, it’s still a fantastic film.
4. Anchors Aweigh
The release of this 1945 musical coincided with the signing of the Japanese surrender, bringing an end to World War II. Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra star as two sailors enjoying the freedom of Hollywood in the 1950s. An innocent boy who dreams of joining the Navy is found by sailors in this musical comedy. Finally, his aunt is targeted by the sailors.
It’s good to see that sailors’ thinking hasn’t altered much since then.
5. Down Periscope
Down Periscope is still one of the best military comedy. Grammer portrays one of the worst Navy commanders ever, and he’s handed an even worse squad of submariners who all manage to fail at the same time.
It’s jam-packed with the best of the 90s crop. As well, it features a young William H. Macy and Rob Schneider.
6. The Hunt for Red October
“The Hunt for Red October” is a classic film, so what else can be said? It’s a work of art in the movie. This is a must-see if you haven’t already, so clear your evenings and watch it now.
Alec Baldwin is a CIA analyst and Sean Connery is a Soviet submarine captain in this Cold War thriller. Their separate forces are doing all possible to prevent it from happening. Although Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum Of All Fears, and Shadow Recruit are all direct sequels, none of them even comes close.
Feel free to let us know if there are any that we haven’t covered (and there are a lot). The more the merrier.