Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Accuracy in Movies - Does it Matter?

Brian Wolfe



Lately in the Books and Films section of this forum there have been discussions of the current movie, “Dieppe”, and the inaccuracies found by some of the members.  My first impulse was to make a list if all of the movies that I could remember back to the days of my youth and before where accuracy was obviously not an issue.  I soon realized that most would not relate to such movies as “Lives of the Bengal Lancers”, 1935 staring Gary Cooper; “Gunga Din”, 1939 staring Cary Grant; “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, 1968 with Trevor Howard (one of my favorite movies); or even “Waterloo”, 1970 with Rod Steiger.  Many of these won numerous awards yet are riddled with inaccuracies. 


I looked to more resent movies such as “The Blue Max”, though it was in 1966 staring George Peppard.  In one scene of the German trenches it shows the soldiers awaiting the order to go over the top while holding British Number 4 Rifles first produced in the 1930’s equipped with the Number 9 Mk 1 bayonet.  This was the short bladed No, 5 (jungle carbine) bayonet blade welded to a socket similar to the 4 Mk 1 or 2 spike bayonet. These bayonets did not appear until after WWII, possibly around 1950.


  “Saving Private Ryan”, 1998 starring Tom Hanks.  A movie many World War Two veterans claimed was the most accurate depiction of conditions on the beach on D-Day.  If you are yet to see this film then do so if for no other reason than the landing scenes.  I suspect that if someone were to put out a remake with double the gun fire the same vets would proclaim it an even more accurate portrayal. Perhaps they would be correct.  I was really getting into this movie until Tom Hanks’ character disabled a German Tiger tank (if my memory serves) by firing his Thompson machine gun into the viewing port of the tank and killing the crew. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  That must have been the only German tank to be without its very thick protective glass in the viewing port.  I need to research German tanks to see is they were actually using a periscope-style viewing device or not.  Either way, good for you Captain John Miller (Hanks), too bad the rest of the allies didn’t know this trick; could have saved a lot of lives.


“Zulu”, 1964 starring Michael Caine, is another of my all time favorite movies.  My biggest complaint about this movie, aside from the medals worn by Colour Sergeant Borne, was the presence of a female in the movie.  What were they trying to accomplish?  Appeal to the female movie viewer?  You could have marched unicorns barfing rainbows and pooping bunnies across the screen and it would have still missed the female market! 


“Zulu Dawn”, 1979 featuring Bob Hoskins, Peter O’Toole and Burt Lancaster.  Another of my favorite movies.  I listed Burt Lancaster because if this movie was not flawed enough