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The Best British War Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated January 7, 2020 2.1k votes 513 voters 20.3k views 26 items

Spanning nearly a century worth of movies, here are the greatest British war movies of all time, as voted on by cinephiles like you. The British have been involved in a lot of wars in their time: The Boar Wars, World War One, World War Two, The Falklands, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq, just to name a few. For that reason it was only natural for us to create this list of the best British war movies, with the help of your votes.

Some of the best English war movies are represented here, A Bridge Too Far (World War II), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (the Napoleonic Wars), and Lawrence of Arabia (World War I). 

Plenty of Hollywood legends are represented in the UK war movies below, including Michael Caine (Zulu), Steve McQueen (The Great Escape), Russell Crowe (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), William Holden (The Bridge on the River Kwai) and it goes on…

Which of the films on this list of movies about British war would you recommend to others Join our other military mavens and give the most conflict-ridden movies on this list a thumbs up, or do battle with our other users in the comment section below.

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Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1964

Directed by: Cy Endfield

Zulu is a 1964 epic film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January 1879. It depicts 150 British soldiers who successfully held off a force of 4,000 ...more

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#43 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #285 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books

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Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

Released: 1962

Directed by: David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the ...more

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#14 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #802 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1957

Directed by: David Lean

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the ...more

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#177 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #341 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

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Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford

Released: 1977

Directed by: Richard Attenborough

A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan, adapted by William Goldman. It was produced by Joseph E. Levine and Richard P. Levine and directed ...more

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#1,116 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #122 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

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Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner

Released: 1963

Directed by: John Sturges

The Great Escape is a 1963 American WWII epic film based on an escape by British and Commonwealth POW from a German POW camp during WWII, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard ...more

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#10 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #278 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Joseph Morgan

Released: 2003

Directed by: Peter Weir

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 epic historical drama film co-written and directed by Peter Weir, starring Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, with Paul Bettany as Stephen ...more

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#225 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #331 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong

Released: 2019

Directed by: Sam Mendes

1917 is a 2019 British war film directed by Sam Mendes. Two British soldiers are tasked with delivering a message to the frontlines and experience a particularly harrowing day during World War

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#4 of 70 25+ Great Movies That Have a Ticking Clocklisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Denholm Elliott, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1953

Directed by: Charles Frend

The Cruel Sea is a 1953 British war film starring Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliott, Stanley Baker, Liam Redmond, Virginia McKenna and Moira Lister. The film, which was made by Ealing ...more
The Eagle Has Landed is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best British War Movies
Heron added Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland

Released: 1976

Directed by: John Sturges

The Eagle Has Landed is a 1976 British film directed by John Sturges and starring Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall. Based on the novel The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins, the ...more

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#66 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #71 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

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Ice Cold in Alex John Mills, Harry Andrews, Anthony Quayle

Released: 1958

Directed by: J. Lee Thompson

Ice Cold in Alex is a British film based on the novel of the same name by British author Christopher Landon, and described as a true story in the film's opening credits. Directed by J. Lee ...more
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Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, Michael Hordern

Released: 1968

Directed by: Brian G. Hutton

Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 WWII action film starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure. It was directed by Brian G. Hutton and shot on location in Austria and Bavaria. Alistair ...more

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#70 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60s #20 of 45 The Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood

Hope and Glory is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best British War Movies
Thunderdolly added Sarah Miles, Colin Higgins, Charley Boorman

Released: 1987

Directed by: John Boorman, Lasse Hallström

Hope and Glory is a 1987 British comedy-drama-war film, written, produced and directed by John Boorman, and based on his own experiences of growing up in the Blitz in London during World War II. ...more

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#378 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #265 of 439 The Funniest '80s Movies

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Clive Owen, Tim Roth, Catherine McCormack

Released: 2019

Directed by: François Girard

The Song of Names is a 2019 international drama film directed by François Girard, based on the novel of the same name by Norman Lebrecht. Martin (Tim Roth) and Dovidl (Clive Owen) are two ...more

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#196 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #302 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #147 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

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Thora Hird, Elizabeth Allan, Edward Rigby

Released: 1942

Directed by: Alberto Cavalcanti

Went the Day Well? is a 1942 British war film adapted from a story by Graham Greene and directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. It was produced by Michael Balcon of Ealing Studios and served as ...more
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Richard Widmark, Judy Davis, Edward Woodward

Released: 1982

Directed by: Ian Sharp

Who Dares Wins is a 1982 British film starring Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Richard Widmark and Edward Woodward, directed by Ian Sharp. The title is the motto of the elite Special Air Service. The ...more
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Kirk Douglas, Richard Harris, Michael Redgrave

Released: 1965

Directed by: Anthony Mann

The Heroes of Telemark is a 1965 war film directed by Anthony Mann based on the true story of the Norwegian heavy water sabotage during World War II. It was filmed on location in Norway.

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#200 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #226 of 304 The Best Military Movies Ever Made

Aces High is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best British War Movies
dazter added Christopher Plummer, Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud

Released: 1976

Directed by: Jack Gold

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Aces High is a 1976 British-French war film directed by Jack Gold and starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter Firth, Christopher Plummer and Simon Ward. The screenplay was written by Howard Barker. As ...more
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David Niven, William Hartnell, Trevor Howard

Released: 1944

Directed by: Carol Reed

The Way Ahead is a British Second World War drama released in 1944. It stars David Niven and Stanley Holloway and follows a group of civilians who are conscripted into the British Army to fight ...more
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Mia Farrow, Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1964

Directed by: John Guillermin

Guns at Batasi is a 1964 drama film starring Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson, John Leyton and Mia Farrow. The film was based on the 1962 novel The Siege of Battersea by Robert ...more
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Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey

Released: 1968

Directed by: Gerald Thomas

Carry On Up the Khyber is the sixteenth in the series of Carry On films to be made, released in 1968. It stars Carry On regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Bernard ...more
Eye of the Needle is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best British War Movies
slaft added Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Kate Nelligan

Released: 1981

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Eye of the Needle is a 1981 American spy film directed by Richard Marquand and starring Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan. Based on the novel of the same title by Ken Follett, the film is ...more
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Hardy Krüger, Michael Goodliffe, Alec McCowen

Released: 1957

Directed by: Roy Ward Baker

The One That Got Away is a 1957 Second World War film starring Hardy Krüger and featuring Michael Goodliffe, Jack Gwillim and Alec McCowen. The film was directed by Roy Ward Baker with a ...more
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John Le Mesurier, Arthur Lowe, Clive Dunn

Released: 1971

Directed by: Norman Cohen

Dad's Army is a 1971 feature film based on the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army. Directed by Norman Cohen, it was filmed between series three and four and was based upon material from the early ...more
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Daniel Radcliffe, Carey Mulligan, Kim Cattrall

Released: 2007

Directed by: Brian Kirk

My Boy Jack is a 2007 television drama based on David Haig's 1997 play My Boy Jack. It was filmed in August 2007, with Haig as Rudyard Kipling and Daniel Radcliffe as John Kipling. It does not ...more