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The idle son of a rich businessman joins the army when the U.S.A. enters World War One. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. He also falls in love with a Frenchwoman, but has to leave her to move to the frontline. Written by
Philip Apps <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider. See more »
The three future recruits live in New York City (one works construction on a skyscraper, another works a bar in the Bowery), but during the recruitment parade, there are shots of wide avenues lined with low buildings and palm trees - clearly shots of 1920s Los Angeles. See more »
Movie takes place during WWI in 1917. Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) is an idle son of a rich man. He enlists in the Army when WWI begins leaving behind a loving girlfriend. He becomes buddies with Slim (Karl Dane) and Bull (Tom O'Brien). They go to France where he falls in love with Melisande (Renee Adoree). But then he has to go off to combat. Will he survive and come back to her? And how about his girlfriend back home?
The plot is somewhat predictable (I knew how it was going to end halfway through) but this is still a GREAT film! The first half deals with Jim, Slim and Bull in a small town in France where they meet Melisande. It's chock full of some very unfunny humor and juvenile antics between the soldiers--but the romance between Jim and Melisande really works. There's some truly beautiful moments with them--especially a nighttime scene by a lake. And the sequence where he says goodbye to her is truly touching.
The second half deals with Jim and his buddies in combat. The war footage is strong and (for 1925) pretty graphic. It shows the pain and agony of war quite graphically--but Gilbert's little speech in the foxhole is a bit much (and Gilbert overdoes it). It all does lead up to a happy ending which I liked...but didn't buy for a minute.
This is all helped along by a beautiful music score done in 1988. It really helps the move tremendously. The direction by King Vidor was astonishing--the battle sequences are exciting (and harrowing) and the romantic scenes work equally well. Gilbert is pretty good in the lead--it's easy to see why he was such a big star. Adoree is just gorgeous and makes a very beautiful heroine. Dane is just VERY annoying as Slim. He overacts constantly and he's the (un)funny comic relief--but he does turn noble at the end. O'Brien is pretty good also.
This was a HUGE hit in its day...but is completely forgotten today. That's too bad--it's truly a great film. A must see!
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