Memorial movies

Memorial Day is a little more than a week away but that doesn’t mean one can’t take time any day to remember the brave men and women who ultimately gave their lives for our country.

They served a nation and its people that they loved. However you might typically spend the holiday, maybe with a barbecue, or with games and activities, perhaps surrounded by family around the picnic table, be thankful we have such means, it’s what these men and women have died for as well as to protect.

Though movies could appear inconsequential in the scheme of things, they can provide us with insights that we otherwise may not consider. In this case, they are able to show the majority of people a small glimpse of the battles remembered on Memorial Day.

The Dirty Dozen

(1967, PG)

An army sergeant played by the mighty Lee Marvin is given charge of assembling a team of 12 criminals from death row and leading them in a top secret mission during World War II. Though the men are given this shot at redemption, many of the dozen are hot tempered, unwilling to get along and refuse to follow orders. However reluctant, the dangerous band of outsiders train in combat, learn the art of war, but most importantly the 12 must unite and overcome their intolerances for each other and authority.

Given the size of the cast, you’ll no doubt spot a few familiar faces. Ernest Borgnine, Donald Sutherland, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas, and even former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown joins in for the exciting operation. Join the crew Saturday night at 8 p.m. on TCM.

Kelly’s Heroes

(1970, PG-13)

Showing, just a couple hours after The Dirty Dozen on TCM, which unfortunately puts us at 1:30 a.m., is another look at a World War II battleground. It actually has a number of similarities with “The Dozen,” including a group containing Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland, the latter playing an eccentric, nonconforming tank commander, suitably named Oddball. However, the head man of the disenchanted outfit is Clint Eastwood who, after catching wind of the location of a German gold supply, steers the men on a self-declared treasure hunt.

Kelly’s Heroes is as much of a comedy as it is an action picture, garnished with secondary roles played by Don Rickles and Carroll O’Connor, featuring plenty of one liner’s and exciting explosions. It even has its own foot-tapping theme song. Looking below the surface however, one can spot an interesting portrait of man’s temperament.

Apocalypse Now

(1979, R)

Marching into more sobering territory is this Francis Ford Coppola tour de force, loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s story Heart of Darkness. It’s set in the Vietnam War and follows a veteran Army Captain (Martin Sheen) who has been specially assigned a disturbing mission. He must journey upriver, near Cambodia, through thick jungle to locate and terminate Kurtz, (Marlon Brando) a psychotic rogue Army Colonel. The course becomes eerily hypnotic as the Captain bears the weight of his mission, fearing that he too may be slipping into delusion.

More than most cinematic depictions of war, Apocalypse Now appears authentic. One reason for this effect is the amount of individuals that the central character encounters throughout the movie. They enter in, serve their purpose, and then exit, giving the impression that they all have goals and lives outside of one man’s mission. With stereo effects and a vivid color palette, the movie also contains an unsettling yet spellbinding atmosphere sure to stir your senses.

Unlike the others, for the time being, you’ll have to venture to the video store for this one.

(Reece Kelly, a native of East Liverpool, studied Film at Regent University. He can be reached at