When Hollywood Makes History

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TORA! TORA! TORA! (1970) Filmed on location in Japan and Hawaii, this drama about Pearl Harbor, which tried to give both countries’ viewpoints, is better than its sour reviews suggested.

 

WAKE ISLAND (1942) Brian Donlevy, Robert Preston, Albert Dekker, and Walter Abel played four of the American soldiers who fought to hold Wake Island in the first days of the Pacific war.

ONLY YESTERDAY “You’re about to write a story that says that the former Attorney General—the man who represented law in America—is a crook. Just be right, huh?” — Ben Bradlee, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN

 

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976) The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) set off on the trail of new leads in their investigation of the Watergate scandal. The film shows the reporters building their story day by day and makes use of news footage of people involved in the scandal.

 

THE RIGHT STUFF (1983) Based on Tom Wolfe’s book about test pilots and the early days of the space program, the movie offers highly realistic space-flight re-creations but makes the very curious and artistically inept choice of mocking the NASA scientists who made these flights possible. Dennis Quaid is pictured as one of the space pioneers.

 

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) Francis Ford Coppola’s costly study of the Vietnam conflict was initially derided as pretentious and overwrought, but the movie’s reputation has been gaining in recent years.

 

THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT (1970) Campus unrest surrounding the Vietnam War was the topic of this production, which showed a coed (Kim Darby) changing a noncommitted student (Bruce Davison) into a radical.

 

MEDIUM COOL (1969) Haskell Wexler wrote, directed, photographed, and co-produced this semidocumentary feature about the riots outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The movie combines scenes of the actors at the convention site with news footage of the actual riots.

 

PLATOON (1986) The horrors of the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of an American soldier (Charlie Sheen). Based on the experiences of the film’s writer-director, Oliver Stone, the movie won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Editor, and Sound, but its plot is often hazy and hard to follow.