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All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Poster

Trivia

With the loss of limbs and gory deaths shown rather explicitly, this is undoubtedly the most violent American film of its time. This is because the Production Code was not strictly enforced until 1934, and also because Universal Pictures deemed the subject matter important enough to allow the violence to be seen.
Nazi rabble rousers stormed screenings of the film in Germany, often releasing rats or stink bombs into the theaters, as the wounds of defeat in the First World War still ran deep. This led to the film ultimately being banned by the Nazi party. It wouldn't receive proper screenings in Germany until 1956, though it did play to packed houses in 1930 in neighboring Switzerland, France and the Netherlands with special trains and buses being laid on to transport Germans to screenings.
The film was banned in Germany by Nazi Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick on the grounds that it ignominiously represented Germans as cowards. Ironically, in neighboring Poland, that country's censorship board proscribed the film on account of it's being "pro-German."
To ensure authenticity, director Lewis Milestone instructed the studio to try to find out if there were any World War I German army veterans living in the Los Angeles area, so he could have them authenticate German uniforms, equipment, etc. So many were found that Milestone cast a lot of them as German officers in the film, and had them drill the extras playing German troops (the scene where they are laying communication wire in the forward trenches was led by a former German soldier whose job during the war was to do exactly that).
The first talkie war film to win Academy Awards.
Final film of Raymond Griffith, who played the dying French soldier Gerard Duval stabbed by Paul Baumer (Lew Ayres). He had lost his voice through illness as a child. A popular silent-film star, the coming of sound meant the end of his career.
As of September 2011, Arthur Gardner is the only surviving member of either the cast or crew.
The iconic final shot was filmed during the editing process. All the actors had left so that is actually Lewis Milestone's hand we see in the final shot.
Universal's first Best Picture Oscar.
The Greek writing on the blackboard in the schoolroom is the beginning of Homer's "Odyssey": "Tell me Oh Muse of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide".
Lewis Milestone deliberately made the film without music so as not to take away from the seriousness of the subject. Much to his chagrin, however, some movie theaters added music in of their own choosing, as they weren't used to having films delivered to them without any form of background scoring.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and even the book's author, Erich Maria Remarque, were both considered for the lead role.
Made for the then considerable sum of $1.25 million, the production utilized over 2,000 extras. The knowledge that production began only a few months after the 1929 stock market crash puts into perspective the enormous gamble taken by Universal Pictures in making this film.
Banned in Italy until 1956.
The silent version - shot concurrently - didn't receive its US TV premiere until 2011.
Lewis Milestone's attention to detail - and desire to be as authentic as possible - was such that the chief sanitary inspector of Orange County, California, insisted that production be halted while he checked on the sanitary conditions of the trenches built for the film.
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In part because of his experience in playing the part of Paul Baumer, Lew Ayres became a conscientious objector during the Second World War. His films were banned in over 100 Chicago theaters.
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Louis Wolheim earned some of the best notices of his career playing the Sergeant. He was set to star in Lewis Milestone's next film The Front Page (1931) when he unexpectedly died of stomach cancer in 1931.
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In his 2013 study. "The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler", Harvard scholar Ben Urwand documents how the German riots against this film prompted Universal Studios chief Carl Laemmle to agree to major cuts in the movie so it could be re-released in Germany.
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In the first classroom scene, two phrases are written on the blackboard: 1. in Greek, correctly written, the beginning of the Odyssey - Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, polytropon hos mala polla (the sentence breaks off, against grammar and sense); 2. Ovid, Remedia amoris, line 91 - Principiis obsta, sero medicina paratur (Resist the first elements [of passion]; it's too late when you resort to medicine). A third phrase appears at the end of the scene: Quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem (Whatever you do, do it wisely and keep in mind your purpose), an anonymous traditional maxim with biblical echoes.
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The first sound film of director Lewis Milestone.
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This film's opening prologue states: "This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war . . . "
Zasu Pitts was originally cast as Mrs. Bäumer (mother of Lew Ayres' character Paul Bäumer), but she was replaced by Beryl Mercer. Contrary to long-standing rumor, she did not appear in the silent version of this film simultaneously produced for theaters not yet wired for sound. However, she DOES appear briefly in the original 1930 trailer for the silent version, a scene of her in bed.
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Future director George Cukor, having recently been brought out from Broadway (where he was a renowned stage director), was employed as a dialogue coach on this film. His job was to lessen the regional dialects of the actors so that American audiences could more greatly identify with the characters.
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[June 2008] Ranked #7 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Epic".
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According to the reminiscences of director Lewis Milestone, audiences laughed when Zasu Pitts appeared as the mother in the original cut (sound version), and that is why he recast the role with Beryl Mercer.
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Future director Fred Zinnemann was briefly an extra on the film, before getting fired for impudence.
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Around 2000 extras were utilized in the film, many of them Germans--including former soldiers--who had moved to the US after World War I.
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The silent (synchronised sound, non-dialogue) version premiered 73 years after the film's release (in the UK, that is) at the Watershed in Bristol on Sunday 23 November 2003.
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The American Film Institute writes: "According to contemporary sources, the silent version with synchronized sound ran 15 reels. Var reviewed the silent version when it opened in Paris in early Dec. 1930 under the title 'A L'Ouest Rien de Noveau'. The reviewer noted that a scene in which a French solider was killed in a foxhole was cut in the French release. Sequences with 'ZaSu Pitts' as 'Paul's mother' were not in the sound version, which was viewed. In the sound version, Beryl Mercer portrayed the mother. The sound version was reduced to 10 reels for reissue in 1939."
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Visa d'exploitation en France: #10077 (reprise)
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Two-time Oscar-winning director Fred Zinnemann got his first job in Hollywood in the minor roles of a German soldier and a French ambulance driver, He was later fired for impudence.
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