World War II epics

The Baltimore Sun

It's World War II all over again on TCM, spotlighting a trio of big-scale, big-budget, big-cast war epics. The first two hail from the early 1960s, when such films were all the rage. At 5:15 p.m., J. Lee Thompson's The Guns of Navarone (1961) features Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quayle, Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas and Richard Harris, all trying to rescue Greece from Axis domination by destroying a huge Nazi gun emplacement. At 8 p.m., Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence and James Coburn are among those behind John Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), based on the true story of an attempted mass exodus from a German POW camp. Watch for a mesmerizing performance from McQueen as lone-wolf Virgil Hilts, whose way with both a baseball and a motorcycle made for two of the great images of '60s Hollywood. Finally, at 11 p.m., Sturges' The Eagle Has Landed (1976) stars Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter, Donald Pleasence and Anthony Quayle in the story of a German plot to kidnap Winston Churchill.

For a look at war of a different kind, Robert Wise's 1951 The Day the Earth Stood Still (1:30 p.m., AMC) stars Michael Rennie as Klaatu, an alien determined to stop citizens of Earth from killing one another. And for a look at what war has become in the 21st century, check out Oliver Stone's 2006 World Trade Center (3 p.m., Showtime), with Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as firefighters trapped beneath the fallen twin towers on Sept. 11.

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