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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM Presents "Never Surrender: WWII In The Movies" Beginning On The 75th Anniversary Of D-

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will air 24 hours of World War II films every Thursday in June. Never Surrender: WWII in the Movies, begins June 6 on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Co-hosted by the ever amiable Ben Mankiewicz and a weekly WWII expert, insights and expertise will be shared while sitting amongst the impressive installations at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. This thoughtfully curated series is a patriotic salute to those who fought the good fight and stood for everything this country strives to be. Hollywood doesn't always get everything right, but the pride exhibited in these films not only reflects the feelings of a grateful nation, but pays reverence to the events and the characters involved in them. It's a combination that delivers an impact the viewer will remember long after the credits have rolled.

The selected World War II pictures for this series have been curated by some of the top World War II historians in the world. This special qualification can easily overwhelm even the most ardent, and respected film watcher. In fact, TCM Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz said, “During this process, I learned quickly that my best move was to ask a thoughtful question and then get out of the way. And when you experience Seth Paridon, a staff historian at the National World War II Museum, setting the stage for Sands of Iwo Jima by taking us through precisely what U.S. Marines faced during the landings at Tarawa and Iwo Jima, you’ll understand what I mean. All of our experts added uncommon depth and context to these movies. I was lucky to be a part of it – and now, so are all of you." Although provided through a press release, these are not words lightly tossed from the lips. After just a few moments of viewing, you'll be convinced of that. TCM’s primetime look at WWII in the movies begins with a discussion on the War in Europe. Ben Mankiewicz and Rob Citino (Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy and Senior Historian for The National WWII Museum) present two films set on the auspicious day of June 6, 1944 on June 6th (the 75th anniversary of D-Day). These films include The Longest Day and Overlord. The first is a personal favorite of mine, which features just about every popular male actor of 1962 and has a theme song composed by Paul Anka (who naturally, also appears in the film).

On June 13th Mankiewicz is joined by Seth Paridon (staff historian at The National WWII Museum) to discuss the War in the Pacific. This installment will of course feature the John Wayne film, Sands of Iwo Jima, and the epic, Tora! Tora! Tora! Both films are set in the Pacific theatres of WWII, and host a large cast, many of whom actually served in the military during the battles which they recreated. One can only imaging the reawakened emotions involved in creating such personal performances.

Come June 20th Mankiewicz reunites with Paridon to take a look "Behind Enemy Lines", with the pairing of two beloved classics, The Great Escape, and Bridge on the River Kwai. Both films tell the stories of prisoners of war during World War II. The first boasts an impressive international (and rather handsome) all-star cast in a film based on the true event of a mass escape from a German Prisoner of War camp. The later features the unbelievably talented Alec Guinness in an Oscar winning performance in the Best Picture of 1957 that also garnered five other Academy Awards.

The series concludes on June 27th when Mankiewicz is paired with Lynne Olson, the New York Times bestselling author of seven history books. The two dive into the subject of war time Biopics. This installment includes two very compelling stories, the first being To Hell and Back and the second is The Story of GI Joe. In the first film, Audie Murphy does an admirable job of actually playing himself in the tale of how he became the most decorated U.S. soldier of WWII. The second film (which is another personal favorite of mine) depicts life among the fighting men as seen through the eyes of real-life war correspondent Ernie Pyle. The later film does a remarkable job of balancing the light-hearted camaraderie of every day life in the trenches with the heart-wrenching brutality of that same life.

I highly recommend each and every one of these films for their entertainment value as well as for their relevance to the history of our lives in combat. War is not an easy subject to convey in a movie. But these films manage to do so with respect, as well as with the intangible quality of humanity. Watch these films amongst friends and family with context and reflection provided by experts who know as much as possible as any living individual can. For more information including a complete schedule and film information, please visit

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