For around three decades, Lawrence Bender has been producing Hollywood hit after Hollywood hit. If you scan Lawrence Bender’s credits, you find several critically and commercially successful movies, including Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, An Inconvenient Truth, Good Will Hunting, and Inglourious Basterds. As impressive as that list of legendary films is, for my money, the best film Lawrence Bender ever produced is The Great Raid.
The Great Raid about the true life tale of an attempt to rescue around 500 US soldiers being held in a Japanese prisoner-of-war (POW) camp in the Philippines during World War II. The soldiers were made up of those who had survived the hellish Bataan Death March, and the POW camp, located in Cabanatuan, was brutal to say the least. The Great Raid is based on two novels: The Great Raid on Cabanatuan City by William Breuer and Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides. The film was released in 2005 and stars James Franco, Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, Connie Nielsen and Marton Csokas.
What makes The Great Raid my favorite Lawrence Bender film, and what I consider to be his best work, is the stakes. This includes both the stakes involved in the real life rescue mission as well as the accuracy and realism with which the film portrays those stakes on the big screen. Telling a true life story, especially one as intense and important as The Great Raid, takes an extraordinary effort. Such an effort often starts from the top and trickles down. As such, Lawrence Bender’s influence on the production cannot be understated, and the results of his effort are a great film that honors the real life heroes whose story it tells.
While The Great Raid is a film that Lawrence Bender deserves high praise for his role in producing, it is far from his only critically acclaimed work. During his legendary career, he has produced multiple Academy Award-winning films, including Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds.