Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory

4.2 22
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Cast: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou

     
 

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Adapting Humphrey Cobb's novel to the screen, director Stanley Kubrick and his collaborators Calder Willingham and Jim Thompson set out to make a devastating anti-war statement, and they succeeded above and beyond the call of duty. In the third year of World War I, the erudite but morally bankrupt French general Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his troops to seize the… See more details below

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Overview

Adapting Humphrey Cobb's novel to the screen, director Stanley Kubrick and his collaborators Calder Willingham and Jim Thompson set out to make a devastating anti-war statement, and they succeeded above and beyond the call of duty. In the third year of World War I, the erudite but morally bankrupt French general Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his troops to seize the heavily fortified "Ant Hill" from the Germans. General Mireau (George MacReady) knows that this action will be suicidal, but he will sacrfice his men to enhance his own reputation. Against his better judgment, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) leads the charge, and the results are appalling. When, after witnessing the slaughter of their comrades, a handful of the French troops refuse to leave the trenches, Mireau very nearly orders the artillery to fire on his own men. Still smarting from the defeat, Mireau cannot admit to himself that the attack was a bad idea from the outset: he convinces himself that loss of Ant Hill was due to the cowardice of his men. Mireau demands that three soldiers be selected by lot to be executed as an example to rest of the troops. Acting as defense attorney, Colonel Dax pleads eloquently for the lives of the unfortunate three, but their fate is a done deal. Even an eleventh-hour piece of evidence proving Mireau's incompetence is ignored by the smirking Broulard, who is only interested in putting on a show of bravado. A failure when first released (it was banned outright in France for several years), Paths of Glory has since taken its place in the pantheon of classic war movies, its message growing only more pertinent and potent with each passing year (it was especially popular during the Vietnam era).

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
A chilling lucidity illuminates every frame of this World War I drama from the great, Bronx-born director Stanley Kubrick, whose icy, cerebral vision is on stunning display here. Paths of Glory (1957) tells the story of a failed French attack on the Germans during World War I and the ensuing court-martial of three French soldiers charged with cowardice. Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson co-wrote the screenplay (an adaptation of Humphrey Cobb's novel), and the dialogue is drenched in irony and edged with Kubrick's unique brand of ultra-dark satire. One of the greatest antiwar films ever made, Paths of Glory is not a simple screed. Men and events are viewed from a ruthlessly detached perspective, with Kubrick’s cold-eyed observation of the mind-numbing barrage of hypocrisies eventually thawing in a coda that is as powerfully moving as it is unexpected. It's all captured with Kubrick's unrivaled sense of cinematic composition, his stunning wide-angle tracking shots functioning as visual metaphors in a way previously unexplored in narrative cinema. The cast is brilliant as well: Kirk Douglas stars, anchoring the film with an unbending integrity, while George Macready and Adolphe Menjou create chillingly effective portraits of aristocratic archetypes. It is not subtle filmmaking, but neither is it obvious. It is simply inexorable, making Paths of Glory is one of the truly great American films.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Paths of Glory is a remarkable anti-war film that retains its impact decades after its release. The story's horrifying, tragic inevitability combines with Stanley Kubrick's forthright documentary style to create a film of rare power, a stinging, pre-Vietnam indictment of the inflexibility of war-time decision-making. Kirk Douglas, who produced the film, seems an odd choice to play a French colonel in World War I, yet he fills the screen with his righteous indignation. Kubrick's indictment of a military elite out of touch with -- even openly antagonistic towards -- its own men is brilliantly vicious. Filmed in pristine black-and-white that mirrors the thematic emphasis on the battle between good (enlisted men) and evil (the officers), with Kubrick's keen eye toward detail, Paths of Glory is both an intellectual and a visual treat. The film touched many raw nerves, and it was banned in several European countries, with France the last to lift the ban in the late 1970s. The conclusion features the soon-to-be Mrs. Kubrick in a sentimental and melodramatic scene that has been criticized as out-of-step with the rest of the somber and gritty film.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/26/2010
UPC:
0715515064118
Original Release:
1957
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:28:00
Sales rank:
5,516

Special Features

New Audio Commentary featuring critic Gary Giddens; Excerpt from a 1966 Audio Interview with Director Stanley Kubrick; Television Interview from 1979 with star Kirk Douglas; New Video Interviews with Kubrick's longtime executive producer Jan Harlan, Paths of Glory Producer James B. Harris, and Actress Christiane Kubrick; French Television Piece about a real-life World War I execution that partly inspired the film; Theatrical Trailer; Plus: A Booklet featuring an Essay by Film Scholar James Naremore

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kirk Douglas Col. Dax
Ralph Meeker Corp. Paris
Adolphe Menjou Gen. Broulard
George Macready Gen. Mireau
Wayne Morris Lieutenant Roget
Richard Anderson Maj. Saint-Auban
Joe Turkel Private Arnaud
Timothy Carey Private Ferol
Peter Capell Col. Judge
Susanne Christian German Girl
Bert Freed Sgt. Boulanger
Jerry Hausner Cafe Owner
Harold Benedict Capt. Nichols
John Stein Capt. Rousseau
Ken Dibbs Pvt. LeJeune
Emile G. Meyer Priest

Technical Credits
Stanley Kubrick Director,Screenwriter
Ilse Dubois Costumes/Costume Designer
Gerald Fried Score Composer
James B. Harris Producer
Georg Krause Cinematographer
Eva Kroll Editor
Erwin Lange Special Effects
Martin Mueller Sound/Sound Designer
Ludwig Reiber Art Director
Arthur Schramm Makeup
Hannes Staudinger Camera Operator
Jim Thompson Screenwriter
Calder Willingham Screenwriter

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