Cary, Shep, Bill, and Francis are pilots who have just, and only just, survived the First World War. They linger in Europe in the aftermath, drinking and ostensibly having fun, but pessimistic and flip about their futures, as each feels himself somehow lost and dead inside as a result of the horrors he's experienced. They encounter a beautiful and vivacious girl, Nikki, and adopt her, not romantically but as a sort of mascot and light around which they can hover in hopes of regaining a sense of warmth and life. Nikki does her best to reinvigorate her new friends, but despite the seeming lightheartedness of their escapades, the shadow of the war can never be dispelled.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Richard Barthelmess, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Elliott Nugent, and John Mack Brown star in this excellent psychological war drama directed by William Dieterle about a handful of WWI veterans who do nothing but drink booze and run around Paris with flapper, Nikki (Chandler, in an elegant and moving performance).
What makes this film so special is that it's mood of despair of hopelessness has held up very well over all these years. Plus, the movie's bleak atmosphere and subject matter helps. Sometimes the performances (David Manners) and dialogue comes off as a little dated, but that is to be expected from a movie this old. It is very easy to overlook; and that is really the only bad thing about the movie.
It's a shame that this movie isn't released on DVD or even VHS (thank goodness for TCM). It's a real forgotten gem of early 1930's cinema that hopefully won't remain forgotten for long.
**** out of ****
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