‘Greatest Generation Film Series’ at YES salutes WWII vets

When Hollywood has crawled into the trenches of military battles, it has given some people a look into skirmishes that participants sometimes have been hesitant to recollect.

Columbus’ Ron Adams can relate.

His own father, the late U.S. Army infantryman Lowell Adams, rarely shared with family any of his memories of the classic German offensive, The Battle of the Bulge, near the end of World War II.

“Only as an adult, really, did I learn how brutal that battle was,” Adams said.

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The senior manager of the nonprofit YES Cinema, at Fourth and Jackson streets in Columbus, is launching “The Greatest Generation Film Series.” It begins at 7:01 p.m. Saturday with the 1962 black-and-white John Wayne film, “The Longest Day,” detailing Allied forces’ invasion of Normandy. The flick used actual D-Day participants as consultants.

Actor Richard Todd, cast as a British officer, actually served in that real-life capacity, and was among the first officers to land at Normandy.

“We never, never can do enough to thank this (World War II) generation,” Adams said. “Or do enough for the ones on the home front who really sacrificed, too.”

Adams sees the film series as a simple way to focus on soldiers’ sacrifice — and to remind other residents and audience members of veterans’ contribution to today’s freedoms.

The other two movies slated in the series are the 1955 release, “Mister Roberts,” scheduled June 20, and “The Great Escape,” from 1963, slated July 18. All three films boast an all-star cast.

“Mister Roberts” focuses on a naval officer, longing for active duty, who clashes with his egotistical captain.

“The Great Escape” highlights an escape by British and Commonwealth prisoners of war from a German POW camp during World War II.

Randy Allman, who helps operate YES Cinema for the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, is a longtime film buff.

“’Mister Roberts’ is my personal favorite (of the series’ three),” Allman said of the picture starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon. “It’s a good mixture of comedy and drama. It makes you laugh. And it makes you cry.”

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What: “The Greatest Generation Film Series,” highlighting movies focusing on World War II to honor that war’s veterans.

When: 7:01 p.m. Saturday for “The Longest Day”; 7:01 p.m. June 20 for “Mister Roberts”; 7:01 p.m. July 18 for “The Great Escape.”

Where: YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus.

Admission: $5 for each film.

Information: 812-378-0377 or yescinema.org.