Paths of Glory (1957)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, War


Paths of Glory (1957) Poster

After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

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8.4/10
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  • Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick in Paths of Glory (1957)
  • Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory (1957)
  • Kirk Douglas and Christiane Kubrick in Paths of Glory (1957)
  • Kirk Douglas and Adolphe Menjou in Paths of Glory (1957)
  • Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory (1957)
  • Kirk Douglas and Wayne Morris in Paths of Glory (1957)

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28 July 2007 | WriterDave
9
| Stands the Test of Time
An arrogant French general (a superb George Macready) orders his men on a suicide mission and then has the gall to try to court marshal and execute three of them for cowardice in the face of the enemy. A former lawyer turned colonel (Kirk Douglas in his prime) is the voice of reason against gross injustice. This excellently staged and wonderfully acted production is as much an acting showcase for Douglas as it is a directorial masterstroke by a young Stanley Kubrick who adapted this to the screen from a novel based on actual accounts.

Kubrick displays a great control of sound effects and camera movement in the brief but effective battle scenes that expertly depict the controlled chaos that was trench warfare during WWI. Things get juicier during the ensuing courtroom battle where the deafening disparity between the elite who propagate and profit from war and the common citizens who suffer and die in war is shown with great lucidity.

Unlike later Kubrick epics, this runs at a crisp 90 minutes, though suffers briefly from a slow and awkwardly staged opening ten minutes before Douglas comes on screen. Ultimately, this holds up very well to modern scrutiny thanks to the flawlessness of Kurbick's craft, the amazing ensemble acting, and the surprising depth of its philosophical and psychological pondering. "Paths of Glory" is more anti-arrogance than anti-war, and is unapologetically sentimental and pro-soldier. As such, much can still be gleaned from its message.

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