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... See full summary »
A group of German infantrymen of the First World War live out their lives in the trenches of France. They find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily ... See full summary »
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 unit portrayed is the 42d Infantry Division (Rainbow Division) as determined by the three color (red-yellow-blue) rainbow patch (long version) worn on the upper left sleeve of the uniform. Casualties were so high that post-war the patch was cut in half and worn on the forward half of the sleeve instead of centered because "we left half our rainbow in France." During the transport scene the tailgates of the trucks are all painted with "42" and then the truck number. The credits thank the 2d Division (Indianhead) so painting the "4" prior to the pre-existing "2" may have facilitated that. The 42d Division was later a New York Army National Guard unit and you could find units in Syracuse, Geneva, etc. See more »
When Jim is getting dressed in the hayloft for his date, Slim jokingly refers to him as "Mr. Hemingway". When the film was being made in 1924-25 Ernest Hemingway was becoming famous, but in the movie's time frame of 1917, he was still unknown. See more »
One of the Finest Movies of Its Own or Any Other Era
A fine silent classic that has held up very well, "The Big Parade" is one of the very best films of its era and of its genre. It has a nice blend of drama, action, and lighter moments, with plenty of good photography and settings. The characters are simple, believable, and unpretentious, and they are brought to life well by the cast. Its commentary on the war is to the point, yet in a thoughtful way, without the heavy-handed cinematic ranting that mars so many films about war.
The early scenes work very well in introducing some of the characters and themes. Its portrayal of the USA's entry into the war is intelligently done, while holding nothing back in its perspective. By not assigning blame or responsibility to any specific persons or countries, it enhances its portrayal of the kind of mentality that so often prevails in such situations. It is a believable, and sometimes subtle, sequence that works quite well.
Once the movie gets into the main story, it uses the "parade" imagery well, and combines it effectively with the personal development of the characters.
John Gilbert and Renée Adorée work quite well together, and Gilbert's army pals are both used effectively. There are quite a few memorable scenes as it depicts a full variety of wartime experiences. The lighter sequences are used particularly well, not as raucous humor but as moments of the more sensitive side of human nature that is still there somewhere amidst all of the turmoil.
There's much more that could be said about such an absorbing film, but watching the movie is more rewarding than reading about it. It's neither an action-heavy war film nor a superficial, easily understood movie contrived to prove a particular point; it's something much better that fully repays careful attention and appreciation.
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