Military Reporters to Pick Best, and Worst, War Films

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By: Joe Strupp

While the Military Reporters & Editors (MRE) group plans to tackle major issues from covering Iraq to reporting on military justice hearings at its upcoming annual conference, the four-year-old organization is also going a bit Hollywood.

MRE President Sig Christenson is asking members to vote on the best and worst military movies of all time, with plans to show the top choice during the first night of the conference on Oct.26. The conference, slated for Chicago, is set to run through Oct. 28.

?Our conferences have been serious affairs with [past] big-name keynote speakers like Bob Woodward, retired Air Force Gen. Wes Clark and Pulitzer winner David Halberstam framing the debate,? Christenson said in an e-mail to members. ?Still, there?s also a need to kick back, which is why we will have the first MRE Night at the Movies. But we won?t be seeing just any film. We?ll be watching the war movie you say is the best of all time. The MRE board has assembled a list of the best and worst war movies ever made. We?ll screen the one you think is the best, and post the results on the MRE Web site.?

In recent weeks, Christenson said MRE members have formulated the nomination list of best films, among the top choices were such obvious picks as “From Here to Eternity” (1953), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), “The Caine Mutiny” and “We Were Soldiers” (2002), along with the great (if a stretch) “Seven Samurai,” plus more.

Equally intriguing are the nominees for worst military movie. They include “Delta Force” (1988), all three Rambos, “Pearl Harbor” (2001), Inchon (1981), The Green Berets (1968),The Flying Tigers (1942), “Top Gun” (1986), “Gods and Generals” (2003), and “Jarhead” (2005), among many others.

Christenson, a longtime military reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, said the Rambo films are leading the discussion as among the worst, while he leans toward ?From Here to Eternity? as his top pick, saying it ?is so real I want to get behind Frank Sinatra in close-order drill.?
But the voters will determine the top pick, Christenson vows, urging MRE members to cast their ballots at Voting ends Monday, Oct. 23.

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