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The Best British War Movies

Updated September 12, 2020 3.0k votes 572 voters 22.2k views48 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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  • 1
    Zulu
    222
    53

    Zulu

    Michael Caine, Stanley Baker

    Released1964

    Directed byCy Endfield

    Zulu is a 1964 epic film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 2
    1917
    118
    17

    1917

    George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman

    Released2019

    Directed bySam Mendes

    1917 is a 2019 British war film directed by Sam Mendes. Two British soldiers are tasked with... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 3
    Lawrence of Arabia
    156
    56

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole

    Released1962

    Directed byDavid Lean

    Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 4
    Master and Commander
    129
    38

    Master and Commander

    Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany

    Released2003

    Directed byPeter Weir

    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 epic historical drama film... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 5
    The Cruel Sea
    101
    25

    The Cruel Sea

    Denholm Elliott, Stanley Baker

    Released1953

    Directed byCharles Frend

    The Cruel Sea is a 1953 British war film starring Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 6
    A Bridge Too Far
    141
    57

    A Bridge Too Far

    Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1977

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

    A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 7
    Bridge over the River Kwai
    131
    56

    Bridge over the River Kwai

    Alec Guinness, William Holden

    Released1957

    Directed byDavid Lean

    The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 8
    Ice Cold in Alex
    79
    19

    Ice Cold in Alex

    John Mills, Harry Andrews

    Released1958

    Directed byJ. Lee Thompson

    Ice Cold in Alex is a British film based on the novel of the same name by British author... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 9
    The Wild Geese
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  • 10
    The Eagle Has Landed
    80
    33

    The Eagle Has Landed

    Robert Duvall, Michael Caine

    Released1976

    Directed byJohn Sturges

    The Eagle Has Landed is a 1976 British film directed by John Sturges and starring Michael... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 11
    The Great Escape
    119
    74

    The Great Escape

    Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough

    Released1963

    Directed byJohn Sturges

    The Great Escape is a 1963 American WWII epic film based on an escape by British and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 12
    Hope and Glory
    58
    28

    Hope and Glory

    Sarah Miles, Colin Higgins

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn Boorman, Lasse Hallström

    Hope and Glory is a 1987 British comedy-drama-war film, written, produced and directed by John... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 13
    Where Eagles Dare
    95
    72

    Where Eagles Dare

    Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton

    Released1968

    Directed byBrian G. Hutton

    Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 WWII action film starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 14
    The Heroes of Telemark
    41
    22

    The Heroes of Telemark

    Kirk Douglas, Richard Harris

    Released1965

    Directed byAnthony Mann

    The Heroes of Telemark is a 1965 war film directed by Anthony Mann based on the true story of... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 15
    The Way Ahead
    34
    15

    The Way Ahead

    David Niven, William Hartnell

    Released1944

    Directed byCarol Reed

    The Way Ahead is a British Second World War drama released in 1944. It stars David Niven and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    Went the Day Well
    39
    22

    Went the Day Well

    Thora Hird, Elizabeth Allan

    Released1942

    Directed byAlberto Cavalcanti

    Went the Day Well? is a 1942 British war film adapted from a story by Graham Greene and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    Aces High
    33
    17

    Aces High

    Christopher Plummer, Malcolm McDowell

    Released1976

    Directed byJack Gold

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  • 18
    The Four Feathers
    15
    0

    The Four Feathers

    Ralph Richardson, June Duprez

    Released1939

    Directed byZoltan Korda

    The Four Feathers is a 1939 Technicolor adventure film directed by Zoltan Korda, starring John... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 19
    Guns at Batasi
    34
    23

    Guns at Batasi

    Mia Farrow, Richard Attenborough

    Released1964

    Directed byJohn Guillermin

    Guns at Batasi is a 1964 drama film starring Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 20
    The Battle of the River Plate
    14
    0

    The Battle of the River Plate

    Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee

    Released1956

    Directed byEmeric Pressburger, Michael Powell

    The Battle of the River Plate is a 1956 British war film by director-writer team of Michael... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 21
    Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst
    14
    0

    Released1957

    Directed byMichael Anderson

    Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst is a British war film that tells the story of... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    Who Dares Wins
    31
    21

    Who Dares Wins

    Richard Widmark, Judy Davis

    Released1982

    Directed byIan Sharp

    Who Dares Wins is a 1982 British film starring Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Richard Widmark and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 23
    Above Us the Waves
    12
    0

    Above Us the Waves

    John Mills, Theodore Bikel

    Released1955

    Directed byRalph Thomas

    Above Us the Waves is a 1955 British war film directed by Ralph Thomas, about human torpedo... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 24
    Battle of Britain
    5
    0

    Battle of Britain

    Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier

    Released1969

    Directed byGuy Hamilton

    Battle of Britain is a1969 action film directed by Guy Hamilton.Amazon buy button

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  • 25
    Dunkirk
    12
    0

    Dunkirk

    Richard Attenborough, John Mills

    Released1958

    Directed byLeslie Norman

    Dunkirk is a 1958 British war film directed by Leslie Norman and starring John Mills, Richard... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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