This week we examine The Eight Hundred a recent Chinese spectacular which tackles the the defence of Sihang Warehouse, during the battle of Shanghai in 1937. Directed by Guan Hu and starring Huang Zhizhong, Oho Ou, Jiang Wu, Zhang Yi, Wang Qianyuan, Du Chun, Vision Wei, Li Chen, Yu Haoming, Tang Yixin, and Zheng Kai. While their are strong performances they’re largely lost in the edit and the film’s saving grace is its spectacle. While fascinating to see a film about an intriguing battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War, which is often forgotten in the West, the film looses cohesion, likely due to Chinese government interference, and is slightly marred by latent propaganda which is woven into the story of a battle which predates the Chinese Communist Party’s rise to power.
Thank you to our Supporting Cast members who chose the film in this month’s Patreon Pick, to help us pick future films check out the FoF Patreon page.
This week we had the opportunity to travel down to the Tank Museum at Bovington for their Fury Experience – a day of fascinating lectures, discussions and a chance to get an up-close look at Fury – the Sherman tank which appeared in the 2014 film ‘Fury‘. We chat to curator David Willey and Buzz one of Fury’s drivers about their experiences working on the film!
This week we’re joined by Marcus Hearn, the Head of Library and Archive at Hammer Films, joined us to discuss one of the most interesting British war films of the 1950s. Yesterday’s Enemy, directed by Val Guest, had a strong cast including Stanley Baker, Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern, Gordon Jackson and Philip Ahn. The film is set in the Burma Campaign and tells a morally ambiguous story of British and Japanese war crimes.
This week we examine a First World War film with a difference, The King’s Man, a prequel to the successful Kingsman franchise. The film explores the founding of a high-minded intelligence agency against the backdrop of the Great War. Weaving in real historical events as plot points we follow the protagonists as they foil a plot to control Europe. Directed by Matthew Vaughn the film boasts a stellar cast including Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance.
In 1989 at the height of a flurry of Vietnam War films an interesting new take on the sub-genre came in the form of 84 Charlie MoPic, which used a found footage, first person technique to follow a fateful long range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP). Written and directed by a Vietnam veteran Patrick Sheane Duncan, it has a small but capable cast including Jonathan Emerson, Nicholas Cascone, Jason Tomlins, Christopher Burgard, Glenn Morshower, Richard Brooks and Byron Thames.
This week we have a very special episode where we tap into a topic close to Matt’s heart, the PIAT. Matt wrote a book about the PIAT, or Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank, in 2020 and continues to research its history. One of the most interesting aspects of the PIAT is its unique cultural history, having been portrayed in a plethora of films spanning over 70 years. Most famously it was heralded, literally, when Anthony Hopkins as Lt. Colonel Frost in A Bridge Too Far shouted ‘BRING UP THE PIAT!‘ A line which has become iconic. But there’s so much more to the PIAT’s onscreen career!
This week we take a look at the Dick Powell-directed naval thriller The Enemy Below. Starring Robert Mitchum as the commander of a destroyer hunting Curt Jürgens’ U-Boat during a cat and mouse battle. Tension ramps as the captain pit their wits against one another. Based on a novel by based on the 1956 novel by Denys Rayner, a Royal Navy veteran of the Battle of the Atlantic, The Enemy Below is an engaging classic of the naval war film genre with some strong performances from its leading men and Oscar winning special effects.
This week we take to the jungles of Vietnam as Burt Lancaster commands an embattled MAAG unit advising their South Vietnamese allies. Set in 1964, and based on war correspondent Daniel Ford’s novel Incident at Muc Wa. Go Tell The Spartans offers an interesting look at an early period of the Vietnam War that we don’t often get to see. Directed by Ted Post and staring Craig Wasson, Jonathan Goldsmith, Marc Singer, Joe Unger, Evan C. Kim and James Hong.
If you haven’t listened to our episode on another little-known Vietnam War film, The Siege of Firebase Gloria, join us here.
This week we examine Netflix’s latest war film – Munich: Edge of War, starring Jeremy Irons, George MacKay and Jannis Niewöhner. Directed by Christian Schwochow and based on a bestseller from Robert Harris, Munich follows a German diplomat’s desperate attempts to unmask Hitler and his plans during the 1938 Munich Conference. We were lucky enough to be joined by Wesley Livesay, host of the History of the Second World War, Wesley has recently completed an in-depth 9-part series on the Munich Agreement. Join us as we unpack this interesting historical drama.
This week we’re back in the baking desert of North Africa with a forgotten gem from Ealing Studios. 1943’s Nine Men follows a section of British infantry of the Eighth Army, commanded by Jack Lambert, as they’re besieged by attacking Italian infantry. Directed by Harry Watt Nine Men is a gripping and surprisingly visceral film which fans of The Way Ahead and Sahara will love.