1950s Paths of Glory (1957)

Published on December 27th, 2007 | by Chris

1

Paths of Glory (1957)

War Movie by:
Stanley Kubrick

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On December 27, 2007
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

The entire sort-of-noir style that evokes films of an earlier era is quite interesting as well. Kubrick's experimental-ness shows through here, as from the opening credits you know Paths of Glory isn't supposed to look like your average 50's war movie.

Paths of Glory (1957)What an odd movie Paths of Gloryis!  Only the fourth film from director Stanley Kubrick, this movie goes back and forth from tongue-in-cheek M*A*S*H-like anti-war movie, to out-and-out war movie, to legal drama at the blink of an eye.  And it all falls together with Kirk Douglas as the star.  Oh, and the entire thing is filmed in a 1930's style which only makes it more interesting, and even more of an enigma.....

Does that make it a bad movie?  Hell, no.  This is really a good movie, better than I was expecting, actually.  Until it started I wasn't even aware of Kubrick's involvement, and it was interesting to see some early work from such a genius as Kubrick.

The film takes place entirely within the French ranks during the first world war.  What you're looking at is a tale of how totally stupid concepts such as bravery and cowardice are on the battlefield.  You've got an overzealous general who demands that the soldiers under him follow his orders, no matter how dim witted and suicidal they may be, and he wants to make an example for the men who fail to take a German emplacement dubbed "The Anthill."

Well, anyway, the three men really don't deserve to be tried as cowards and mutineers.  Especially one who has run afoul of his Sergeant.  The trial is an amazing spectacle, and farce of justice, as the men are convicted without a chance.  Even though they have Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) the greatest trial attorney in France before the war, and their division commander on their side.  They've been set up, and are summarily executed.

Really the plot isn't so important as the depictions of those concepts of bravery and cowardice.  What actually defines those?  I would say that the three men facing their ultimate fate prove far braver than the general who would have had the entire unit shelled for not storming "The Anthill."  But who am I to judge?

You've got to love vintage Kubrick moments such as General Mireau's pre-battle visit to the trenches, where he randomly stops several soldiers, "Are you ready to kill some Germans today?", that entire scene is just filmed brilliantly, following the general from one end of the trench to the other.

The entire sort-of-noir style that evokes films of an earlier era is quite interesting as well.  Kubrick's experimental-ness shows through here, as from the opening credits you know Paths of Glory isn't supposed to look like your average 50's war movie.

Paths of Glory Paths of Glory
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Description

A World War I French colonel defends three soldiers picked to be shot for a general's blunder. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: DOUGLAS,KIRK
Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Kirk Douglas
  • Ralph Meeker
  • Adolphe Menjou
  • George Macready
  • Wayne Morris

Features

  • Factory sealed DVD

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest, most worthwhile double feature of movies ever, September 12, 2016
By 
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I just treated myself to watching, quite possibly, the greatest, most worthwhile double feature of movies ever: PATHS OF GLORY and Dr. Strangelove both directed by Stanley Kubrick.
PATHS OF GLORY is agreed by many to be the greatest anti-war movie ever filmed. It looks like a documentary (especially the battlefield and stunning 'bunker' footage) while also acted with top-tier professionalism. PATHS OF GLORY is one of those rare, ahead of its time movies that is/was made so well and is so realized that (you) forget it was released in 1957. It just feels modern and improves upon seeing again.

This film is so anti-war and so damaging to the hierarchy of the French military that they banned PATHS OF GLORY from their own viewing public for over a decade.
The extras contain many interviews from the 2 minute audio by recluse Kubrick; to the British talk show half-an-hour interview with Kirk Douglass himself via 1979. He is a very proud nice guy. Kirk really is;... Read more
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unsung Masterpiece, February 20, 2015
By 
Carolyn Simons (Santa Clarita, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paths of Glory (Amazon Video)
I watched this movie at the State Theater in Gary, Indiana, in 1958. I would have attended any movie showing on that day. I came out changed for life. An interesting way to grade a film is to read bios of each actor - the bios for the actors who played in this film often make the point that Paths of Glory was one of the most important films in the actor's career - Kirk Douglas's head explodes.

The film is in black and white - In my youth I had a short-hand way of evaluating films: black and white meant serious, deep, real; color meant shallow, exploitative, sentimental, spectacle. This film is real. I have watched it many times in my life, and I hope to many times more.

The ending made me squirmy and deeply uncomfortable in 1958. Since then, I sing and weep along with the French soldiers.

My favorite scene in the movie: Sgt. Boulanger (Bert Freed) enters the condemned men's cell and greets Cpl. Paris (Ralph Meeker). I think it is one of the... Read more
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie tells the tragic story of three Frenchmen who a selected to be court marshaled for a Generals bad decision. It also de, July 19, 2014
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Paths of Glory takes place during World War I. The movie tells the tragic story of three Frenchmen who a selected to be court marshaled for a Generals bad decision. It also depicts the differences between the old officer class and the foot soldier. In one scene the General Paul Mireau is talking to Colonel Dax, played by Kirk Douglas about the projected losses when the French Army will assault the "Ant Hill', a German held position that is well protected. The General is speaking in percentages, but Douglas talks about the loss of him men. It is plain to see that the General does not really care of the common soldier. WWI saw the death of the old way of fighting a war and the passing of the old Aristocrat Military leaders who saw war as a way of life. Near the beginning of the movie Colonel Dax is referred to as one of the Best defense Lawyers in France. He uses all his skills to defend the three men selected to die. Their fate has already been decided and the trial is only... Read more
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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to Paths of Glory (1957)

  1. As is usually the case for a Memorial Day Weekend, several cable/satellite networks will be chock full of classic war movies this coming weekend. Namely Turner Classic Movies, Fox Movie Channel, and AMC. I’m sure there are many more but these are “The B

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