Whether the war depicted is the Civil War or the War in Afghanistan, watching these spouses on the silver screen shows that throughout history millions of military spouses have kept things running on the homefront.
Hollywood might not always get the military spouse right, but one thing is for sure: They try.
And here are 10 examples of that:
1. Gone With the Wind, 1939
In this epic that uses the backdrop of the Civil War, Scarlett, played by Vivien Leigh, is a military spouse who loses her first husband Charles when he dies serving in the Confederate Army. Melanie, who is also Charles’ sister, is married to Ashley who also serves in the Confederacy. The two women struggle with love and the effects of war as Scarlett tries to hold everything together while the Confederacy crumbles.
2. Mrs. Miniver, 1942
This story is the life of a British family as World War II breaks out in England. The plot is complex, and part of it follows a military spouse Carol, played by Teresa Wright. She is married to Mrs. Miniver’s son, Vin, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot and suffers from the challenges of World War II.
3. Since You Went Away, 1944
After her husband leaves for World War II, Anne Hilton, played by Claudette Colbert, struggles to raise her two daughters. While he is gone, Anne is forced to take in two lodgers. The makeshift household pulls together through the hardships of war.
4. Best Years of Our Lives, 1946
Best Years of Our Lives tells the story of three service members coming home to their small town and their families after World War II. Two of the three men return to their wives and work through the challenges that accompany coming home from war, for good and for bad.
5. Bridge at Toko-Ri, 1954
This movie, based on a book by James Michener, is about a Navy Lieutenant called back to active duty to fly fighter-bombers in the Korean War. His wife, Nancy, played by Grace Kelly, visits him during a three-day shore leave with her children.
6. Top Gun, 1986
Although this movie’s main plot line follows Maverick, a young Naval aviator, and Charlie, his civilian Top Gun instructor, the love between Goose and his wife Carole, played by Meg Ryan, is evident. Goose is Maverick’s Radar Intercept Officer and devoted to his military spouse and child.
7. Little Women, 1994
This tale is about the March sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth whose father is away fighting in the Civil War. Marmee, played by Susan Sarandon, is the strong military spouse keeping the family together through the ups and downs of life with four girls while her husband is away.
8. We Were Soldiers, 2002
During the Battle of la Drang, Army Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore leads his men into battle while his wife, Julia Moore, leads the women back home at Fort Benning. Julia and the other spouses give us a realistic portrayal of life on the homefront during the Vietnam era. We see their struggles while their husbands are at war, the support that they bring each other, and the tragic realities of battle.
9. American Sniper, 2014
This biographical war drama is based on American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle. Not only do we see what Chris experiences in Iraq but we also get a glimpse of his wife Taya’s challenges, frustrations, and realities.
10. Aloha, 2015
Taking place in Hawaii, this (universally panned) film is the story of military contractor Brian Gilcrest’s return to Hawaii. He is supposed to organize a traditional blessing for a new pedestrian gate on behalf of a billionaire. His ex-girlfriend Tracey, played by Rachel McAdams, is a military spouse married to Woody, an Air Force C-17 pilot. Through the course of the film, we see how complicated relationships can get.
Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at [email protected]ck.com.