The story of trench life during World War I through the lives of a French regiment. As men are killed and replaced jaunty Lt. Denet becomes more and more somber. His rival for the affection of nurse Monique is Capt. La Roche.
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In 1916, somewhere in the front in France in World War I, the 5th Company in the 2nd Battalion of the 39th Regiment created by Napoleon Bonaparte and leaded by the tough Captain Paul La Roche receives among the replacements, Lieutenant Michel Denet and private Moran. When Lt. Denet meets the nurse Monique La Coste, who is Capt. La Roche's mistress but he doe not know, they fall in love for each other. When Capt. La Roche sees the old Pvt. Moran in his inspection, he identifies his father using a fake identity. Meanwhile, the 39th Regiment receives order to go to the trenches, attack the German lines and install a telephone in the front to guide the artillery. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This story is set during the trench warfare of World War 1. Captain Laroche (Warner Baxter) leads his troops in various sorties to the front line. On average, half of the platoon doesn't make it back. Lieutenant Denet (Fredric March) joins his platoon along with Private Morin (Lionel Barrymore). When not in the front line, both Denet and La Roche are in love with the same woman - Monique (June Lang). However, the war goes on....
This is a good film if a little depressing at times. I enjoyed the first half of the film more than the second half. There are good scenes, eg, the whole section when the troops are sent on duty for the first time - the man on the wire, the Germans digging underneath the trenches to plant explosives, the relief when their replacements arrive, and the moment when a relief soldier asks what it's like and is given the reply "you'll find out" - a few moments later when the troops are clear of danger, we have a very poignant moment. The film then involves itself in the love interest before returning to the action.
The acting from Warner Baxter and Fredric March is better than June Lang and Lionel Barrymore. In fact, Barrymore is quite annoying. No way would he have been allowed to join the soldiers let alone volunteer on a vital mission. I couldn't really feel any sympathy for him. Just like I cant feel any sympathy for do-gooder numbskulls who visit war-zones in the name of charity/aid, get captured and then get be-headed.
There is a dramatic twist at the end regarding the love triangle between Baxter, March and Lang, and, despite heroics, the overall effect of the film is downbeat.
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