Ann Hornaday Recommends

For Memorial Day, here are some war movies worth renting:

The Battle of Midway (1942, 18 minutes) -- John Ford's extraordinary short about the pivotal World War II battle remains a classic of both war movies and nonfiction filmmaking; Ford got so close to the action that he was injured while making the film. Narrated in part by Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell, the film captures not only the Japanese attack on the North Pacific island but also its harrowing aftermath, including the search for survivors. (Hard to find at video stores, but available for rental by mail by calling 800-532-2387 or visiting

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997, 80 minutes) -- The story of Dieter Dengler, who grew up in Germany during World War II, fell in love with airplanes, immigrated to the United States, became a military pilot and was captured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, may be the most remarkable and inspiring tale of true-life heroism ever captured on film. Directed by Werner Herzog, the documentary is a riveting example of great movie storytelling -- and Dengler's story of courage, integrity and love of life may be the best example on film of true patriotism.

Regret to Inform (1998, 72 minutes) -- In 1988, filmmaker Barbara Sonneborn went to Vietnam, where her husband had died 20 years earlier. Together she and a Vietnamese war widow traveled the country, processing their own experiences while interviewing widows and other survivors about the war; Sonneborn also interviewed U.S. widows about how the war changed their lives. The resulting documentary, which won awards at the Sundance Film Festival, offers a profound reminder of war's human costs, on the battlefield and off.

In "Regret to Inform," Barbara Sonneborn visits Vietnam, where her husband died.