6.4/10
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10 user 8 critic

The Road Back (1937)

Passed | | Drama, Romance, War | 1 June 1937 (USA)
After World War I, a group of former German soldiers try to adjust to civilian life.

Director:

James Whale

Writers:

Charles Kenyon (screenplay), Erich Maria Remarque (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John 'Dusty' King ... Ernst (as John King)
Richard Cromwell ... Ludwig
Slim Summerville ... Tjaden
Andy Devine ... Willy
Barbara Read ... Lucy
Louise Fazenda ... Angelina
Noah Beery Jr. ... Wessling
Maurice Murphy ... Albert
John Emery ... Captain Von Hagen
Etienne Girardot ... Mayor
Lionel Atwill ... Prosecutor
Henry Hunter Henry Hunter ... Bethke
Larry J. Blake ... Weil (as Larry Blake)
Gene Garrick ... Giesicke
Marilyn Harris ... Maria - Ernst's Sister
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Storyline

At the end of the world war, several German soldiers return home to their city to find the social fabric and civil order disintegrating as communist gangs roam the streets and food and jobs become scarce. Riots and massacres lead the erstwhile average men to become cynical and desperate. Written by WesternOne

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

TWO YOUNGSTERS GAMBLE WITH LOVE FOR A CHANCE AT PARADISE! (original print ad-all caps)) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Universal Pictures production number 865. See more »


Soundtracks

Mademoiselle from Armentieres
(1919) (uncredited)
Music by Joseph Tunbridge
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User Reviews

 
Was supposed to be Whale's masterpiece.
3 March 2003 | by the_mysteriousxSee all my reviews

In the film Gods and Monsters, Ian McKellen wonderfully plays Whale recalling his hatred of making this film, the film Whale intended to be the crowning achievement of his career.

The first world war was still close to Whale as he made this film nearly 20 years after it ended. Whale intended the film end with a more sarcastic touch of showing the Nazis as war mongers, warping the minds of youths, but the final cut of this film was taken out of his hands.

The Road Back has some signature Whale touches. Yes, the camera dollies through a wall from outside on a street to the inside of a building, following a character entering it. Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Lionel Atwill and a few other Whale favorites play minor characters with character. He had his usual crew of Ted Kent editing, John Mescall shooting, John Fulton with special effects and the great Charles D. Hall as set designer. You would expect a horror film with all these names. Yet the film does not stand up next to his horror films, nor to Show Boat, Kiss Before the Mirror or Waterloo Bridge. It is a notch below.

It's hard to tell how much of it has to do with the editing. There were also completely unnecessary comedy scenes that did not belong that I understand were re-shot by the orders of studio head Charles D. Rogers, a man who clearly knew nothing of the studio he had taken over from the Laemmles.

Even if Whale had final cut, this film seems like its' story somewhat misses the mark. It works and is an admirable picture, but it seems to lack the scope that would have given it more power. The characters talk about how the war changes them, but we are shown very little of HOW they changed. They seem unhappy, but there is no real emotion. They too often seem like mouthpieces for Whale's beliefs and not like real people. It would have been a better film if it expanded on the souls of the characters and been a half hour longer or so. It probably would have actually moved faster than it does. We go from the war to the classroom to the bars and to the courtroom and it just seems to want to become an epic, but it can't.

Still, this film is worth watching, especially for Whale fans who want to see his last solid, good film. He was never again to be as creative or interested in his stories.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 June 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Road Back See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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