Schlitzie's Emporium

Sep 14, 2011

Movie Poster of the Day: Paths of Glory (1957) was an anomaly when it was released. Scathing. Uncompromising. Relentless in its criticism of military brass. Equally pointed in its portrayal of war as pure insanity. Paths of Glory, about a futile French campaign in World War I to capture the so-called "Ant Hill" from the Germans, is the most intensely antiwar movie ever made. There really is no close second. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) - the other greatest antiwar movies that come to mind - do not approach its raw intensity and its almost bitter anti-authoritarian message. Stanley Kubrick had only made a few experimental shorts and a couple of films noirs (Killer’s Kiss from 1955 and the following year’s The Killing) before taking on Paths of Glory. Kirk Douglas pushed him hard to make it and landed the part of the humanistic attorney and French military officer Colonel Dax. Hard-boiled novelist Jim Thompson cowrote the screenplay with novelist/screenwriter Calder Willingham. The best part of the movie, by far, are the performances by the three men sentenced to go before a firing squad by the French military brass as an example to the rest of the men for failing to take the Ant Hill. Joe (The Shining) Turkel, Timothy (The World’s Greatest Sinner) Carey and Ralph (Kiss Me Deadly) Meeker play the trio of condemned men. How Kubrick convinced right-wing actor Adolphe Menjou to portray the uber-arrogant Major General George Broulard is anybody’s best guess. Broulard, the heartless bureaucrat who sent men into the meat grinder by the thousands, feels absolutely no remorse for his actions. As Colonel Dax tells him near the end of the film: “I pity you.” 

Movie Poster of the Day: Paths of Glory (1957) was an anomaly when it was released. Scathing. Uncompromising. Relentless in its criticism of military brass. Equally pointed in its portrayal of war as pure insanity. Paths of Glory, about a futile French campaign in World War I to capture the so-called "Ant Hill" from the Germans, is the most intensely antiwar movie ever made. There really is no close second. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) - the other greatest antiwar movies that come to mind - do not approach its raw intensity and its almost bitter anti-authoritarian message. Stanley Kubrick had only made a few experimental shorts and a couple of films noirs (Killer’s Kiss from 1955 and the following year’s The Killing) before taking on Paths of Glory. Kirk Douglas pushed him hard to make it and landed the part of the humanistic attorney and French military officer Colonel Dax. Hard-boiled novelist Jim Thompson cowrote the screenplay with novelist/screenwriter Calder Willingham. The best part of the movie, by far, are the performances by the three men sentenced to go before a firing squad by the French military brass as an example to the rest of the men for failing to take the Ant Hill. Joe (The Shining) Turkel, Timothy (The World’s Greatest Sinner) Carey and Ralph (Kiss Me Deadly) Meeker play the trio of condemned men. How Kubrick convinced right-wing actor Adolphe Menjou to portray the uber-arrogant Major General George Broulard is anybody’s best guess. Broulard, the heartless bureaucrat who sent men into the meat grinder by the thousands, feels absolutely no remorse for his actions. As Colonel Dax tells him near the end of the film: “I pity you.”