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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 <email@example.com>
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 »
Waiting! Orders! Mud! Blood! Stinking stiffs! What the hell do we get out of this war anyway!
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gratefully acknowledges the splendid co-operation of the Second Division, United States Army and Air Service Units, Kelly Field. See more »
Highly praised WWI film a mix of comedy, romance and drama
This is a curious film in that it mixes all three genres: comedy, romance and drama. For its first half (almost exactly) we see three war buddies from different walks of life (a rich boy, a bartender, a riveter) become friends as they leave the US and head for France, where the rich boy (John Gilbert) romances a local girl, Melisande, (Renee Adoree). This first half is filled with memorable vignettes: a gum chewing lesson, a french lesson, reading of letters from home, etc. Suddenly the men pull out and the famous farewell scene grips us, Gilbert and Adoree searching for each other, finding each other, holding on until the last moment, she allowing herself to be dragged by the truck he is in, finally collapsing in the road with other evacuees around her. The grim second half contains two long battle sequences: a forced march through a forest of snipers and a harrowing night battle in the trenches. The battle montages are superbly handled. Vidor's overall direction is excellent. The grim ending with his two friends dead and his leg gone pack a wallop.
This is a most effective film and a very popular one of its day. Along with THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE, WINGS and WHAT PRICE GLORY? it stands as one of the quartet of Hollywood's best WWI epics. If there had been Oscars in 1925 it would certainly have garnered noms for: Picture, Direction, Actor, Editing, Special Effects.
Quite memorable and very worth seeing.
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