Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of picnics.  Families get together for food and games.  Perhaps a parade before the picnics.  To kids in many states, it’s the last holiday weekend before school gets out.  This a reminder that summer is so close.  But I do none of that.  What I do on Memorial Day is watch war movies.

Watching war movies is something that I started doing years ago.  The Longest Day; Tora, Tora, Tora; Midway, The Eagles Nest, Kelly’s Heroes, and Dirty Dozen were just some of the movies that I would watch.  Some years, I’ve included Band of Brothers at other times, Gettysburg, or other Civil War movies.  But always, The Longest Day and Tora, Tora, Tora.  It’s my way to honor those who served.   I guess the fact that my father fought in WW II in the Pacific and my Uncles fought in Europe makes me focus on WW II movies.

But this year, I’m finding it difficult to find the movies.  A couple of years ago, Netflix had both The Longest Day and Tora, Tora, Tora on streaming.  This year, so far, I can’t find either.  I don’t know why they did this. Earlier in the year, both Tora, Tora, Tora and even Saving Private Ryan were available to stream.  I saved the movies so that I could view them over Memorial Day weekend.  But now that the weekend is here, they’re gone. I did find the Band of Brothers and a couple of newer movies to watch.

I wasn’t happy but I did find a new movie available in streaming called Five Came Back.  It’s a documentary about five Hollywood directors, who were winning awards before the war, but felt that they needed to do something once the war started.  Frank Capra, George Stevens, William Wyler, John Ford, and John Huston, and their experiences are depicted in this documentary.  

It’s an interesting look at their movies and the impact that they had on both the members of the military services and the citizens who supported them from home.  It’s also interesting to see the impact it had on their careers. George Stevens, for instance, was known for his comedies like Gunga Din and Woman of the Year.  But after filming at the Dachau concentration camp, he didn’t feel he had it in him to do another comedy.  He directed Shane and The Diary of Anne Frank among others after the war.

The other interesting part of this documentary is that five current Directors each discuss one of these Directors. For instance, Steven Spielberg talks about William Wyler and the impact of the war on him.  Guillermo del Toro talks about Frank Capra.

You can find it on Netflix. I highly recommend this documentary.  What do you do on Memorial Day?