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4 WWII caper films for fans of The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men, a worthy tale of artistic types out to protect Europe’s cultural treasures during Germany’s retreat, is the latest in a very long line of World War II capers to hit the big screen.

Previous Nazi-thumping tales have been a little less earnest and a lot more, well, capery. Here are just four that you may vaguely remember trying to watch over the sound of your Dad’s Sunday afternoon armchair snooze. They’re the perfect viewing choices if you’re looking for something to watch before (or after) The Monuments Men.

The Guns Of Naverone (1961)

Naverone is in Greece. Also in Greece are Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker and Anthony Quayle, all co-starring with the real lead, David Niven’s stiff upper lip. The guns are actual guns, rather than Gregory Peck’s biceps, and it’s our daring team of derring-doers’ job to blow up Zee Germans’s anti-air cannons on said Greek island of Naverone. It’s full of such patriotic oompa that it prodded some serious buttock at the British box office, and so cinemagoers were rewarded with a sequel, um, 17 years later in the form of Force 10 From Naverone. It’s not as good, and doesn’t feature Gregory Peck (or David Niven’s stiff upper lip), but does boast a young Harrison Ford, so check it out for curiosity’s sake if it’s on TV and you’re very, very bored.

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

Like The Guns Of Naverone (and Ice Station Zebra), Where Eagles Dare was based on an Alistair McLean novel, and as such is another cockle-warming commando carry-on where a group of Allied all-stars – Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure – have to break into somewhere foreboding. Somewhere foreboding in this instance is Hohenwerfen Castle in Werfen, Austria, and it’s covered in Germans and cable cars and double-agents (and double-double agents). Keep an eye out for anachronisms, such as helicopters that didn’t exist at the time, but be sure to keep shtum about them, as this is one of the greatest war films ever, and you’re not allowed to be rude about it.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Living up to its name, The Dirty Dozen isn’t as clean-cut as the other capers on this list, with cynicism very much the order of the day. The likes of Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and Donald Sutherland are on Nazi-nutting duty, making for enough brute brutishness to crumble even the toughest cookies. Look forward to seeing a French chateau blown to “les smithereens” after our hard-as-nails crew goes R-rated on our German friends. Fun fact: the real-life team the film is based on were called ‘The Filthy Thirteen’ and were approximately 5075% tougher than you.

The Great Escape (1963)

As important to Britain’s cultural psyche as baked beans, overbrewed tea, empty Quality Street tins, The King’s Speech, The Queen’s Speech, the Queen, queuing, custard, Land Of Hope And Glory, The Italian Job and Chicken Tikka Masala, The Great Escape is “The” Great World War II Caper Movie. Steve McQueen on a bike! Richard Attenborough with dirt in his trousers! Fantastic nicknames! A ridiculously catchy theme tune! Digging! It really does have it all.

Did we miss your favourite WWII caper film off our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Ali Plumb

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1 Comment

    As good as these movies are you can’t really call them ‘caper’ movies. The one movie to watch before Monument Men is Kelly’s Heroes.

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