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Lee H. Katzin
During the Civil War, a young man enthusiastically joins the Union army thirsting to find glory and honor, but his first battle opens his eyes to the reality of how un-glorious and dishonorable war really is.
Paul Baumer is a young German who, along with his graduating high school classmates, enlist in the German Imperial Army during the First World War. Originally thinking war would be a great adventure, Paul and his friends discover exactly the opposite as the war drags on and one by one the members of the class are killed in action until only Paul remains. Written by
Anthony Hughes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The made for TV and 'remake' labels have tended to devalue All Quiet on the Western Front. With successors like Das Boot and Saving Private Ryan, it also seems less visionary now. However, All Quiet on the Western Front is a superb adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic novel. The novel, published in 1929 by the 31 yr old Remarque was an instant classic. I remember reading it nearly two decades ago and its still one of the best books I've ever read. The Hollywood adaptation starring Lew Ayres - director Lewis Milestones greatest achievement - was very good as testified by its IMDb status. The remake is better! The remake is more intelligent, the cast is great and the period detail is extraordinary. The director - Delbert Mann - is an experienced veteran with classics like Marty to his credit. All Quiet is his magnum opus, released on TV because theatre owners didn't see it making any money. Naturally very few people watch message movies. Fewer still would make the effort to rent a "made for TV" film. Hardly anyone would watch this when they can see the original instead - a film with a more famous pedigree.
This adaptation is very faithful to the novel. Even with minor changes in the ending, the basic spirit of the book is retained. The cast is uniformly excellent with Richard Thomas playing the central role of Paul. Donald Pleasance, Ian Holm and Ernest Borgnine all give uniformly good performances in character driven and memorable roles. It could be said that Ernest Borgnine is too old and too fat to be a corporal. True, but on an emotional level be fits brilliantly into the role and his physicality really lends an element of humanity to him. The war scenes would rank very high in anyones list but for Saving Private Ryan's gritty realism. I loved the old German town from where Paul and his friends come. It looks straight out of the 1910's. All the period details are top notch. I strongly recommend watching this unheralded classic.
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