The Big Parade

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  • Drama, Silent, War , produced in 1925 USA
  • Actors: John Gilbert, Renée Adorée
  • Directed by: King Vidor
  • Rating: 8.5 out of 10
  • Plot Summary: King Vidor's harrowing WWI drama was the first realistic war film ever made, and for many years it would be the paradigm for the genre. It stars John Gilbert as Jim Apperson, a charming idler from a wealthy background. When war is declared in 1917, even the phlegmatic layabout is caught up in the public excitement and impulsively enlists in the army, surprising his stern father (Hobart Bosworth). After a whirlwind of basic training, he's off to France with fellow conscripts Bull (Tom O'Brien), a bartender, and Slim (Karl Dane), a riveter. While waiting to be sent to the front, the three kill time with horseplay and practical jokes. One of the jokes leads to a meeting with peasant girl Melisande (Renee Adoree), and she and Jim begin to see each other, but just as they've overcome the language barrier, he's called to the front. The nightmarish reality of trench warfare will permanently alter the young man's life. Adapted from the story WHAT PRICE GLORY by Laurence Stallings, the film that MGM feared would alienate audiences proved to be its most successful until the release of GONE WITH THE WIND. Apart from the scenes of low comedy, the film is as fresh as ever, and in sequences such as Jim's return home, it remains just as devastating as it must have been in 1925.
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