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Gabriel de Gravone
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 movie was a huge hit. When MGM discovered that a clause in director King Vidor's contract entitled him to 20% of the net profits, studio lawyers called a meeting with him. At the meeting, MGM accountants played up the costs of the picture while downgrading the studio forecast of its potential success. Vidor was persuaded to sell his stake in the film for a small sum. The film ran for 96 weeks at the Astor Theater and grossed $5 million (approximately $50 million in 2003 dollars) domestically by 1930, making it the most profitable release in MGM history at that point. Said Vidor, "I thus spared myself from becoming a millionaire instead of a struggling young director trying to do something interesting and better with a camera." See more »
Early in the movie, we see James Apperson announce that he has enlisted. His father, who had been sternly lecturing him moments before, comes up and congratulates him. Suddenly, the father now has a lit cigar in his mouth, with a long ash, indicating he's been smoking it for at least a while. But all the time prior, we saw no sign that the father had a lit cigar anywhere on him or near him. See more »
[Melisande has just said something to him in French]
I don't understand a word you say... but I know what you mean!
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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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