Classic War Movie & TV Celebrations for Memorial Day 2024

Hollywood has long saluted the heroes of our military service. Beginning Friday, May 24, 2024 and running all the way through Memorial Day (Monday, May 27) and into the early morning hours of May 28, a variety of networks are remembering those Americans who have lost their lives in military service with an extensive lineup of some of the greatest war/military movies ever made.

Friday, May 24

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) AMC, 9amET: During World War II’s Battle of Okinawa, U.S. Army medic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) braves bullets, grenades and snipers while single-handedly evacuating the wounded from behind enemy lines. His belief in his country led him to the war, but his personal beliefs led him to participate without the use of a weapon. Based on a true story, the film stars Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, and Vince Vaughn.

HACKSAW RIDGE, Andrew Garfield, 2016,

Mark Rogers/Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection

Pearl Harbor (2001) AMC, NoonET: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay could hardly have known it when they were assembling this three-hour, big-budget epic, but the idea of Americans coming together for a common cause is more timely than ever. Pearl Harbor, the duo’s recounting of the day FDR correctly announced would live in infamy, has the grand scope and feel of an old-fashioned war movie, taking its time to introduce characters and events. History buffs might wonder if the film lingers a bit too long on its Ben Affleck/Kate Beckinsale/Josh Hartnett love triangle — but then those bombs start dropping on Hawaii. The attack is masterfully re-created, as is Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s famous raid over Tokyo. Stars Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Jon Voight and Cuba Gooding Jr.

The Caine Mutiny(1954) TCM, 8pmET: The Best Picture Oscar-nominated military trial drama earned Humphrey Bogart a Best Actor nomination for his memorable performance as Lt. Cmdr. Queeg. The film follows a World War II Naval officer (Van Johnson) who is court-martialed for relieving paranoid Capt. Queeg (Bogart) of command during a typhoon.

Platoon (1986) TCM, 10pmET: In this Vietnam War film by Vietnam veteran Oliver Stone (who won Oscars for Best Directing and Best Picture), a group of men fight in the jungles of the country. A moral crisis ensues, however, when a sergeant orders the massacre of villagers. The cast was led by Charlie Sheen and Best Supporting Actor nominees Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe.

PLATOON, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, 1986. (c) Orion Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Orion Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Men in War (1957) TCM, 12:30amET: A platoon leader (Robert Ryan), a sergeant (Aldo Ray) and a shellshocked colonel (Robert Keith) try to regroup in Korea.

The Steel Helmet (1951) TCM, 2:30amET: The first American film about the Korean conflict finds a wounded GI sergeant making his way back with a Korean orphan and a medic. The film starred Gene Evans, Robert Hutton and Richard Loo.

Go for Broke! (1951) TCM, 4amET: This film is a dramatization of the real-life 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was made up of Nisei (second-generation Americans born of Japanese parents) soldiers. The film is led by Van Johnson and costars several actual veterans of the 442nd.

The Human Comedy (1943) TCM, 5:45amET: Concluding TCM’s lineup of films and leading into Saturday’s is the Best Picture-nominated comedy/drama, which earned star Mickey Rooney a Best Actor nod.

THE HUMAN COMEDY, Robert Mitchum, Dorothy Morris, Don DeFore, Donna Reed, Barry Nelson, Frank Morgan, 1943

Everett Collection

Saturday, May 26

Merrill’s Marauders (1962) TCM, 7:45amET: Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill (Jeff Chandler) and a lieutenant (Ty Hardin) push Army jungle fighters across Burma.

They Were Expendable (1945) TCM, 9:30amET: Lt. “Rusty” Ryan (John Wayne) is frustrated with Navy officials who are unconvinced that Lt. John “Brick” Brickley’s (Robert Montgomery) squadron of new PT boats is combat-worthy. But following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ryan gets to prove his point, as the vessels relay important messages and pick off a steady stream of enemies on the water and in the air.

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) TCM, 12pmET: This was a musical comedy made as a fundraiser during World War II and airs as part of TCM’s Musical Matinee franchise.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS, Monte Blue (rear), Errol Flynn, 1943

Onionhead (1958) TCM, 2:15pmET: This World War II comedy/drama is led by Andy Griffith, who plays a college student who flips a coin and joins the Coast Guard becoming involved in a variety of high-seas misadventures.

The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) TCM, 4:15pmET: During World War II, American journalist Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith) goes abroad to write about the arduous experiences of stalwart members of the U.S. Army. The drama earned costar Robert Mitchum a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. The film was also nominated for a Best Picture.

A Farewell to Arms (1932) TCM, 6:15pmET: This was the first adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s World War I-set novel. A U.S. ambulance driver (Gary Cooper) loves an English nurse (Helen Hayes) in World War I Italy.

Attack! (1956) TCM, 8pmET: Director Robert Aldrich’s drama was set during the latter months of the World War II campaign in Europe, where a cowardly captain (Eddie Albert) dooms a Battle of the Bulge platoon, but one man (Jack Palance) makes it back.

ATTACK, Jack Palance, 1956

Captains of the Clouds (1942) TCM, 11pmET: In this melodrama Bush pilots (James Cagney, Dennis Morgan) join WWII Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Men of the Fighting Lady (1954) TCM, 1:45amET: This Korean War drama led by Van Johnson and Walter Pidgeon is about aircraft-carrier officers who tell writer James A. Michener (Louis Calhern) Korean War stories about a top pilot (Johnson).

The Red Badge of Courage (1951) TCM, 3:15amET: This is cowriter/director John Huston’s adaptation of Stephen Crane’s Civil War novel, led by World War II hero-turned-actor Audie Murphy.

Wings for the Eagle (1942) TCM, 4:45amET: This drama follows workers at an aircraft assembly plant in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Stars Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson.

WINGS FOR THE EAGLE, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, 1942

Everett Collection

Sunday, May 26

The Fighting 69th (1940) TCM, 6amET: James Cagney stars in this drama, which follows the 69th Infantry Regiment during World War I.

Mister Roberts (1955) TCM, 7:45amET: The comedy/drama is set aboard a cargo ship in World War II’s Pacific Theater, and is led by Henry Fonda and Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Jack Lemmon.

The Naked and the Dead (1958) TCM, 11:45amET: Director Raoul Walsh’s World War II drama is based on Norman Mailer’s novel.

The Dirty Dozen (1967) TCM, 2:15pmET: Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas star in this 1967 box-office smash. U.S. Army Maj. John Reisman (Marvin) must train a group of prisoners who have nothing to lose for a dangerous mission behind German lines on the eve of the D-Day invasion. Regarded as expendable, they must overcome impossible odds and confront their own personal demons if they are to succeed — and survive.

The Great Escape (1963) TCM, 5pmET: Steve McQueen and James Garner star in this classic war movie about a group of misfit POWs who attempt to escape from an “inescapable” Nazi prison camp. The motorcycle chase finale is one wild ride. Also stars Charles Bronson, James Coburn, David McCallum, Richard Attenborough and Donald Pleasence.

Stuntman Bud Ekins on motorcycle doubling for Steve McQueen in THE GREAT ESCAPE, 1963

Everett Collection

National Memorial Day Concert (2024) PBS, 8pmET Live: America’s national night of remembrance returns live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for a special 35th anniversary broadcast taking us back to the real meaning of Memorial Day through personal stories and tributes interwoven with musical performances. Featuring world-renowned artists with the National Symphony Orchestra, the annual event brings us together to honor the service of generations of our men and women in uniform, our military families, and all those who have given their lives for our country.

Memorial Day Specials (2024) Smithsonian, 8pmET: This four-hour block of programming will cover The Day the Bomb Dropped, the definitive story of the bombing of Hiroshima; The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, where modern science reveals the identity of an unnamed hero in the iconic photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima; Breath of Freedom, a look at the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of African American World War II vets; and lastly, an episode of Combat Ships, “Courageous Captains,” providing a look at four heroic sailors who led thrilling missions during the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam, and the warships they captained.

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) TCM, 8pmET: Director William Wyler’s documentary is about the last World War II mission of the titular plane.

The Cold Blue (2018) TCM, 9pmET: A documentary made from many hours of lost footage from Wyler’s Memphis Belle film. Immediately following is The Cold Blue: The Making of a War Documentary (2018) at 10:30pmET.

THE COLD BLUE, from left: Paul Haedike, director Erik Nelson, on-set, 2018.

© HBO /courtesy Everett Collection

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) TCM, 11:15pmET: This is the drama about World War II veterans adjusting to life back home that earned Wyler a Best Director Oscar along with wins for Best Picture, Best Actor (Fredric March) and Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell, an actual war veteran who had lost both hands during his service).

The Flying Fleet (1929) TCM, 2:15amET: airing as part of TCM’s Silent Sunday Night franchise; and two foreign dramas set during World War II.

The Burmese Harp (1956) TCM, 4amET: Kon Ichikawa’s anti-war parable about a Japanese soldier burying his fallen comrades at the end of World War II.

The Cranes Are Flying (1957) TCM, 6amET:  A Moscow girl (Tatyana Samoylova) loves a World War II soldier (Aleksey Batalov) but marries a pianist.

Monday, May 27

The Sand Pebbles (1966) Movies!, 6amET: Multiple Oscar nominations went to this tale of a cynical sailor’s experiences on an American gunboat in 1926 China.

THE SAND PEBBLES, Steve McQueen, Candice Bergen, 1966, (c) 20th Century Fox, TM & Copyright /

Courtesy: Everett Collection

Appointment in Tokyo (1945) TCM, 7:45amET: The four years of conflict during World War II between the United States and Japan begins after the Japanese bombing of the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The McConnell Story (1955) TCM, 8:45amET: Joseph McConnell Jr. (Alan Ladd) goes from the medical corps to jet ace, with a wife (June Allyson) and family.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) Movies!, 9:50amET: The history of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor is re-created from U.S. and Japanese viewpoints.

War Nurse (1930) TCM, 10:45amET: American Army nurses find time for romance with soldiers while serving in World War I France.

Band of Brothers (2001) Miniseries, AMC, 11amET-midnightET: HBO’s award-winning 10-part miniseries follows the members of Easy Company, the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, who were the subject of Stephen Ambrose’s book Band Of Brothers of which the series was based. The exploits of Easy Company encapsulate the movement of the Allies during the campaign against Nazi Germany in World War II — they dropped into Normandy on D-Day, they fought the Battle of the Bulge and they eventually captured Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, with many stops in between. The series follows them from their first day of training to the end of the war.


© HBO / Courtesy Everett Collection

Cry ‘Havoc’ (1944) TCM, 12:15pmET: An Army nurse (Margaret Sullavan), a waitress (Ann Sothern), a dancer (Joan Blondell) and six other women run a bomb-shelter field hospital on Bataan.

Mister Roberts (1955) Movies!, 12:55pmET: Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemmon) plots cargo officer Mr. Roberts’ (Henry Fonda) escape from their nit-picking captain (James Cagney).

Bataan (1943) TCM, 2pmET: During World War II, American GIs and their Filipino allies defend the island from a Japanese invasion.

The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960) Movies!, 3:35pmET: A captain (Jack Lemmon) and his ensign (Ricky Nelson) take a sorry ship and crew on a World War II spy mission.

The Rack (1956) TCM, 4pmET: A Korean War hero (Paul Newman) is court-martialed for treason for breaking under torture as a prisoner of war.

Darby’s Rangers (1958) TCM, 5:45pmET: Maj. William Darby (James Garner) forms the Rangers for direct assaults on World War II North Africa and Italy.

The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964) Movies!, 5:45pmET: A Brooklyn bookkeeper (Don Knotts) falls off a pier, turns into a fish and helps the Navy track U-boats.

The Great War (2024) (New Series!) History, 8pmET: This four-hour cinematic documentary, airing in two-hour installments tonight and tomorrow night, focuses on America’s involvement in World War I during the critical year of 1918. It weaves together the stories of Gen. John J. Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Forces; Michael B. Ellis, a young man fighting with the Army’s soon-to-be-legendary 1st Infantry Division; and a brave group of African American soldiers who became known as the Harlem Hellfighters to tell a larger, more complex tale of how the United States joined World War I as an underdog and came out the leader of the 20th century.

Three Came Home (1950) TCM, 8pmET: A U.S. writer (Claudette Colbert) and her British husband (Patric Knowles) endure a Japanese colonel’s (Sessue Hayakawa) prison camp.

Von Ryan’s Express (1965) Movies!, 8pmET: Frank Sinatra stars as a prisoner of war who heads a daring escape attempt by hijacking a freight train filled with Allied prisoners. Also stars Trevor Howard, Edward Mulhare and James Brolin.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) TCM, 10pmET: This classic film remains one of the greatest war movies ever made. Set in a Japanese POW camp during World War II, this engrossing and powerful story depicts the strength of the human spirit and the futility of war. Stars Alec Guinness and William Holden.

None but the Brave (1965) Movies!, 10:30pmET: Crash-landed Marines (Frank Sinatra, Clint Walker, Tommy Sands) form an uneasy truce with forgotten Japanese soldiers on a South Pacific island.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) Movies!, 12:45amET: An adjutant (Dean Jagger) provides support for an Allied flight commander (Gary Merrill) and the latter’s successor (Gregory Peck) who have to run daylight bombing raids out of England.

Assignment in Brittany (1943) TCM, 1amET: A French captain (Pierre Aumont) poses as a Nazi leader to pinpoint a U-boat base off the coast.

Sergeant York (1941) TCM, 3:45amET: Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his performance in the title role of this film, based on the true story of Alvin York, one of the best-known heroes of World War I. Using skills he perfected while hunting in the hills of Tennessee, York single-handedly killed 20 Germans and captured an additional 130. The film was released to rally America as the country prepared for the second World War.

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