Last night I went to see Paths of Glory, a brilliant 1957 WWI film directed in glorious black and white by Stanley Kubrick. The motion picture stars Kirk Douglas, who is never better, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris and Richard Anderson. The plot involves a French Army division sent on a suicide mission to take a German position called "Anthill." Douglas is regiment colonel in charge of the troops. Despite his protestations, he leads his depleted ranks into a bloodbath.
Embarrassed by the mission's failure, Douglas' commanding general (Menjou) decides to make an example of the troops and calls for the court martial of three lowly soldiers. All three are fated to die, as their trial is a mockery, despite Douglas doing his best to defend them.
Paths of Glory is an anti-war film that shows the absurdity and treachery of war. The battlefield scenes in the film are horrifying, with men falling from bombs, gunfire and barbed wire.
Every single performance is wonderful, especially Douglas. The cinematography alone is worth the time, but this is a powerful film that stands as one of the greatest of its era and remains one of my favorites.
The New Beverly Cinema, which was showing the film last night, had an excellent 35mm print of the film. The image and sound was near perfect and it truly made the experience of seeing it 1000 times better.
In the past ten years, I've lost some of my passion for film. Maybe it's been something internal, or perhaps it was my dissatisfaction with the industry. Seeing Paths of Glory (and Rear Window and Jaws earlier in the year) on the big screen reminded me why I ever wanted to make movies in the first place. I can feel something churning inside of me. Could it be another movie?
I love this scene. When Douglas comes close to tears, it's so moving.
Check out Paths of Glory when you get a chance.