Movie Review: Paths of Glory

Dennis suggests Paths of Glory (in Classics).  This 1957 Stanley Kubrick-directed WWI film was banned in France until 1975, and you can see why.  Paths of Glory depicts a true incident wherein a vain, career-minded French General (snivelly, imperious George Macready), under pressure to take an impregnable German fortress called “the anthill”, furiously orders the execution of three randomly chosen French soldiers for cowardice when the suicidal attack fails.  His superior, the paternally-evil Adolphe Menjou, assigns Kirk Douglas’ Colonel Dax to defend the men in a show trial before they are to be executed. But he picks the wrong man.  Douglas, insanely buff, by the way, attempts to save the men’s’ lives by pointing out the insanity of the attack, the corruption in how they were chosen for death, and the petty, self-aggrandizing motivations behind it all.  Guess how well reason works.  This is a remarkably exciting, moving, unexpected film, with characters fully realized and constantly doing the unexpected (watch especially the treatment of the three condemned prisoners [Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel, and “undesirable” Timothy Carey]).  The attack on the anthill is extraordinarily filmed, and, for perhaps the last time, Kubrick seems to care about his characters as people.  As outraged, yet as intelligent, an antiwar film as I’ve ever seen; if I were a fascist warmonger, I’d ban it too.

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Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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