The Big Parade
The story of an idle rich boy who joins the US Army's Rainbow Division and is sent to France to fight in World War I, becomes friends with two working class men, experiences the horrors of trench warfare, and finds love with a French girl.
Once the mechanisms have broken down, all that is left are two men and a cigarette... and a girl in France. Man, all the tears were spilt. This is not a major silent film, but a major MAJOR film. Period.
Several hours after the film, I was walking to my car from Dave McD's place. Lit up a Camel as I scurried along. As I got in, I noticed that even the lengua burrito didn't totally mask the Knob Creek that was lingering on my breath* so I reached into the glove and popped in a piece of Arctic Chill. Almost instantaneously I burst into tears again. 10 minutes of them sitting helplessly in the Mini. Unable to stop the…
High melodrama, WWI style. Adventure! War! Passion! Etc! Can get quite hammy, and it feels very long, but it’s beautiful, nonetheless.
The ground-breaking anti-war movie was one of the greatest hits of the 1920's. Directed by King Vidor who had tired of shooting pictures that played for only a week at the theatres, he pitched an idea about a new type of realistic war movie to Irving Thalberg. Liking the idea Thalberg tried to acquire the rights to 'What Price Glory?' but having failed due to the fact that the rights to the play were already sold he then hired one of the writers of the Broadway hit' to write something new. The writer’s story involved a love story between an American soldier, Jim, and a French girl, Melisande. The first part of the picture focuses mainly on this with many…
The scene with the soldiers advancing - slowly, but calmly and surely - through the forest, as they're being taken out one by one, is fantastic and unforgettable. Everything else is so-so.
Vidor's resolutely humanist war epic serves as a urtext for the entire genre to follow. A countless number of great films, from The Best Years of Our Lives to Full Metal Jacket to Saving Private Ryan, echo what has been set out here and an even greater number of inferior works recycle elements from here to lesser effect. It has total command of its scale, never letting spectacle, impressive as it might be, dwarf its focus on its lead characters. As such, many of the most affecting moments (e.g. a mother's embrace as her son returns home; a scene in which the men are caught showering by a French girl) are only tangentially related to the war. Sentimental, to be sure, but at the same time sober in its appraisal of national traumas. It's quite easy to understand why this was the most commercially successful of all silent films.
King Vidor's "The Big Parade" is the biggest blockbuster from the silent era, and became the gold standard to which all others were compared well into the 1930s.
The story focuses on three American doughboys, fighting in Europe during WWI. Two are working class; a tobacco spitting riveter, Slim, a barkeep, Bull, and a ne'er-do-well son of wealth, Jim, who was shamed into enlisting by his family. These three go through the hardships of military training together, bond, and become fast friends. Their friendships deepen after they are shipped to France where Jim falls in love with a French farm girl. This comprises the first half of the 2 ½ hour movie. The second half of the movie is the…