“Waiting! Orders! Mud! Blood! Stinking stiffs! What the hell do we get out of this war anyway?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… many scenes are beautifully lit and composed:
… and Vidor’s depiction of life for soldiers on the front was surely revelatory.
Unfortunately, however, the story itself hasn’t aged all that well. An inordinate amount of time is taken up by a rather pedestrian subplot in which Gilbert falls in lust/love with a comely French milkmaid (Renee Adoree):
… conveniently neglecting his fiancee, Claire Adams, back at home. By the time he and his two buddies (played simply as “types” by O’Brien and Kane; they never emerge as true individuals):
… get to the trenches, more than half the movie is over — we only see them fighting in one hideous battle, and then they’re sent home, so there’s no sense of the endless scope of time spent by most soldiers on the front. Despite these complaints, however, film fanatics will surely want to check out this famous silent film at least once, and should definitely enjoy Vidor’s stunning imagery (see stills below).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)