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The Big Parade (1925)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | 1926 (Austria)
A young American soldier witnesses the horrors of the Great War.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(story), (scenario) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
3 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Melisande (as Renee Adoree)
...
...
...
Robert Ober ...
Tom O'Brien ...
...
Rosita Marstini ...
French Mother
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Storyline

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 <apps@math.wisc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The epic of the American doughboy! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

1926 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Die Parade des Todes  »

Box Office

Budget:

$245,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(with tinted sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

The soldiers march past eucalyptus trees during the Belleau Wood sequence. Native to Australia, eucalyptus trees are not found in that region of France. They can, however, be found in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, where the sequence was shot. See more »

Quotes

Bull: [to Milisande] Parley voo Francay... Chevrolet Coupe?
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Show People (1928) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Superb John Gilbert
3 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the great films of all time. John Gilbert stars as a callow lad from a wealthy family who joins up at the start of World War I. The film follows him through his early days in the army, his days in rural France, and then his time at the front, and finally his return home.

King Vidor directs this amazing film, one of the best war films ever made, with touches of humor and irony, but never losing sight of the horrors and stupidity of war.

John Gilbert would have won the Oscar for 1925 if the awards had started then. He's simply superb as Jack. You watch his eyes as this films goes on. In the beginning his eyes twinkle with glee and delight as he makes friends, finds love, and grows into manhood. Then his eyes change and go dead as he experiences war. This is one of the great silent film performances.

But the film also boasts great work from Renee Adoree as Melisande and Karl Dane as the Swede. Co-stars are Tom O'Brien as Bull, Hobart Bosworth and Claire McDowell as the parents.

The TCM copy I have has a incredible score by Carl Davis. There is one scene when Gilbert is off to the front and he can't find Adoree. The music is a discordant mishmash of previously heard tunes, and the music grows louder and louder until they find each other. The scene that follows is heartbreaking and unforgettable.

But this film is full of great scenes, including the one where Gilbert teaches Adoree to chew gum. So simple yet so charming. Then there's the shower scene where Gilbert has gotten a wine barrel (hilarious) so the guys can have a shower.

There is a great title card that reads simple: IT HAD BEGUN..... So few words and yet so full of meaning. The battle images are among the best and bring the full horror of war home. Vidor assembles amazing scenes of men marching in line to death, of men trapped in shell holes, of planes swooping over the bombed-out fields. This is an incredible movie.

TCM host Robert Osborne mentions that THE BIG PARADE played for an astounding 95 consecutive weeks in New York and that it rivalled THE BIRTH OF A NATION and GONE WITH THE WIND as the biggest money-making film of all time. This is the film that, along with THE MERRY WIDOW, made John Gilbert the king of Hollywood in 1925. And his crown was well deserved; he is magnificent.


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