The Big Parade (1925)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  1926 (Austria)
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Reviews: 42 user | 46 critic

A young American soldier witnesses the horrors of the Great War.


, (uncredited)


(story), (scenario), 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Melisande (as Renee Adoree)
Hobart Bosworth ...
Robert Ober ...
Tom O'Brien ...
Rosita Marstini ...
French Mother


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Laurence Stallings' great motion picture story following his stage success with "What Price Glory" See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »



Release Date:

1926 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Die Parade des Todes  »

Box Office


$245,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| | (1988 TCM print) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

| (music and sound effects) (Western Electric Sound System)


(with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


Bull: [Having - along with Slim - broken into the wine cellar under the farmhouse, where together they imbibe lots of wine] Can you imagine? Some guys was saps enough to join the Navy!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gratefully acknowledges the splendid co-operation of the Second Division, United States Army and Air Service Units, Kelly Field. See more »


Featured in Hollywood: Star Treatment (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Classic silent film
4 June 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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