The 1920s did more than roar to the sounds of bootlegging gangsters. It was a time of reaction to the First World War. After Laurence Stalling's WHAT PRICE GLORY? was a hit on the stage and he had co-written MGM's smash hit THE BIG PARADE, the other studios did their best to get in on the action. United Artists distributed this superior effort about how Charles Emmett Mack joined what would become the model division for all war movies except for THE FIGHTING 69TH. It has WASPs, Irish and Jewish troopers fighting an exhausted war -- you see the same thing in modern war movies.
There are the usual bits of comedy, in which the soldiers put on a stage show for their own amusement. There's a girl, of course: the amazingly beautiful Marguerite De La Motte, best remembered for starring opposite Douglas Fairbanks in THE MARK OF ZORRO. She even gets to call after Mack as he walks away amidst the endless ranks of soldiers heading to the Front. There are some excellent battle scenes and a bit of melodrama that may have inspired SEVENTH HEAVEN.
This sort of war picture was quickly becoming the standard of the genre, so the talent, in front of and behind the camera were fortunate to be in this one, even if at times it appears to be little more than a rip-off of THE BIG PARADE. In the end, it would not sustain many careers. The director's last picture would be in 1930. Miss De La Motte's career would fade with sound, although she would continue to work in increasingly minor efforts for another decade and a half. Mack would die in a car crash the following year. Only the cinematographer, Ray June, sustained a career -- but he would have anyway.
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