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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Saving Private Ryan (1998) feat. Keith Techmeier

Guest: Keith Techmeier (Dana's Son-in-Law and Tom's Brother-in-Law)

Plot Summary: Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man questions their mission and the necessity of saving one man while putting the rest in danger. As peril after peril continues around them, all of them must determine their own desire to fulfill their mission.


  • Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller

  • Edward Burns as Private First Class Richard Reiben

  • Matt Damon as Private First Class James Francis Ryan

  • Harrison Young as Elderly James Ryan

  • Tom Sizemore as Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath

  • Jeremy Davies as Corporal Timothy Upham

  • Vin Diesel as Private First Class Adrian Caparzo

  • Adam Goldberg as Private Stanley "Fish" Mellish

  • Barry Pepper as Private Daniel Jackson

  • Giovanni Ribisi as T/4 Medic Irwin Wade

  • Dennis Farina as Lieutenant Colonel Walter Anderson

  • Ted Danson as Captain Fred Hamill

  • Harve Presnell as General George Marshall

  • Bryan Cranston as War Department Colonel

  • David Wohl as War Department Captain

  • Nathan Fillion as Minnesota Ryan (Pvt. James Frederick Ryan)

  • Paul Giamatti as Sergeant William Hill


  • The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards at the 71st annual ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, and Best Original Screenplay. The film won five of these, including Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Director for Spielberg, his second win in that category.

  • In a controversial upset, the film lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love, joining a small number to have won the Best Director award without also winning Best Picture. The Academy's decision not to award the film with the Best Picture Oscar has resulted in much criticism in recent years, with many considering it as one of the biggest snubs in the ceremony's history. In a poll in 2015, Academy members indicated that, given a second chance, they would award the Oscar for Best Picture to Saving Private Ryan. As of 2021, it is one of only three films to ever win the PGA, DGA, Golden Globe, and Best Director Oscar while not winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the others being Brokeback Mountain and La La Land.

  • Saving Private Ryan has been frequently lauded as an influential work in the war film genre and is credited with contributing to a resurgence in America's interest in World War II. Old and new films, video games, and novels about the war enjoyed renewed popularity after its release. The film's use of desaturated colors, hand-held cameras, and tight angles has profoundly influenced subsequent films and video games.

  • The American Film Institute has included Saving Private Ryan in many of its lists, ranking it as the 71st-greatest American movie in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition), as well as the 45th-most thrilling film in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, the 10th-most inspiring in AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers, and the eighth-best epic film in "AFI's 10 Top 10".

  • Saving Private Ryan was voted as the greatest war film in a 2008 Channel 4 poll of the 100 greatest war films. In a readers’ poll for Rolling Stone, it was voted as the 18th-best film of the 1990s. Empire named the film as the 39th-greatest film of all time.

  • Saving Private Ryan has also received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of World War II combat. In particular, the sequence depicting the Omaha Beach landings was named the "best battle scene of all time" by Empire magazine and was ranked number one on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest Movie Moments".

  • Filmmaker Robert Altman wrote a letter to Spielberg stating, "Private Ryan was awesome – best I've seen."

  • In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Did You Know:

  • Steven Spielberg claimed that he considered the film a passion project as a gift to his aging father, a World War II veteran. He further claimed that he made the picture against his commercial instincts, believing there would not be a wide audience for a World War II movie with graphic violence, and was pleasantly surprised when it became a blockbuster hit.

  • Steven Spielberg requested that no one gain admittance to the movie once it had already begun, just as Alfred Hitchcock did during the release of "Psycho (1960)."

  • Steven Spielberg personally held and operated the camera for many shots during the Omaha Beach battle.

  • Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He did not know Damon would win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997) and become an overnight star before the film was released.

  • The Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million to shoot, and involved up to 1,000 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Army Reserve. Of those extras, 20-30 of them were amputees, issued with prosthetic limbs, to play soldiers who had their limbs blown off.

  • All the principal actors, except for Matt Damon, underwent several days of grueling army training. Damon was spared so that the other actors would resent him and would convey that feeling in their performances.

  • When the camera shakes during explosions, Steven Spielberg used drills attached to the side of the camera, which were turned on when required. While shooting with this effect, the crew's photographer let Spielberg know that there was a shaker lens for cameras. Spielberg said in an interview that he had thought he had invented a great new technique.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: A small platoon go on a rescue mission to find the last surviving member of a small Iowa family.

Best Performance: Tom Hanks (Captain)

Best Secondary Performance: Steven Spielberg (Director)/Barry Pepper (Jackson)/Tom Sizemore (Horvath)

Most Charismatic Award: Steven Spielberg (Director)/Jeremy Davies (Upham)

Best Scene:

  • D-Day

  • War Department

  • We don't take Children!

  • Dog Tag Search

  • Machine Gun Nest

  • Ramelle

  • Earn This

Favorite Scene: Earn This/"I'm Staying with the Only Brothers I Have Left"/Machine Gun Nest

Most Indelible Moment: Earn This/Captain Shooting at the Tank

In Memorium:

  • Camille Saviola, 71, American actress (The Purple Rose of Cairo, Addams Family Values, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).

  • Linda Carlson, 75, American actress (The Beverly Hillbillies, Murder One, Kaz)

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Soldier 1: What were they saying?

Soldier 2: Look, look...I washed for supper!

Pvt. James Ryan: Picture a girl who just took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down.

Capt. John Miller: Gripes go up not down. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer.

"Steamboat Willie": Fuck Hitler! Fuck Hitler!

Gen. George C. Marshall: I have here a very old letter, written to a Mrs. Bixby in Boston. "Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln."

Private Ryan: It doesn't make any sense, sir. Why? Why do I deserve to go? Why not any of these guys? They all fought just as hard as me.

Captain Miller: Is that what they're suppose to tell your mother when they send her another folded American flag?

Private Ryan: Tell her that when you found me I was here and I was with the only brothers that I have left and that there was no way I was gonna desert them. I think she'll understand that. There's no way I'm leaving this bridge.

Pvt. James Ryan: What's that sir?

Capt. John Miller: (pulling Ryan closer.) James. E-Earn this. Earn it.

Pvt. Reiben: Great, now we have to surrender our socks.

Sergeant Horvath: I don't know. Part of me thinks the kid's right. He asks what he's done to deserve this. He wants to stay here, fine. Let's leave him and go home. But then another part of me thinks, what if by some miracle we stay, then actually make it out of here. Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful mess. Like you said, Captain, maybe we do that, we all earn the right to go home.

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.83

Impact/Significance: 9.67

Novelty: 9.17

Classic-ness: 8.33

Rewatchability: 8.67

Audience Score: 9.5 (95% Google, 95% RT)

Total: 54.17

Remaining Questions:

  • Should the platoon have shot "Steamboat Willie"?

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