Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks-World War 1


This is a genre I love...Yup, War films especially films about the 2 world wars. I guess it is because my dad fought in World War 2 and my mom experienced the horrors living through it as a German and the aftermath when the Russians marched in and starvation took hold. I also listened to my grandfather  who lived through World War 1 but was too young to fight as he was 17 when the war ended but he and my grandmother remembered how horrible it was after the first world war with the German mark being worth less than dirt. Anyway I had so many to pick from, The Blue Max, Laurence of Arabia to the newest film by Russell Crowe but I am saving that film for a later blog post. Check out what the other people have picked by heading on over to Wandering Through The Shelves. Time to dust off the cobwebs because I went really old school...

1. WINGS-1927


When I first saw this film, I was blown away by the magnificent stunt flying which was pretty close to the real thing since the director, the wild William Wellman was part of the famous French  Lafayette Flying Corp. after he was already in the French Foreign Legion. This film concerns 2 men both wanting the affections of the same girl. Another girl, played by Clara Bow who was the biggest star at that time, loves the one boy who is dumb not to see it. The 2 men volunteer for duty and are sent off to war. Bow's character also joins as a nurse. The climax of the film is the huge location shooting of the battle of Saint-Mihiel. Wellman used over 3,000 military men for the battle sequence along with over 300 pilots and hundreds of extras. I would love to see this restored film on the big screen with a full orchestra as it was meant to be seen.

2. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT-1930


This film left me truly humbled because it speaks about the uselessness of war. It takes place from the German point of view but it could be any view really. The main actor, Lew Ayers was so taken by the making of this film that he refused to fight in World War 2 and was vilified until it was found that he volunteered for the Red Cross and was often in grave danger.  It starts in a school for boys where a dumb old teacher riles up the patriotism of these young boys to join and fight when war is declared. Soon these young men find out the true meaning of what war is and how much it takes from their souls. We live through one man's experiences through the whole war and realize how futile it truly is. I will read the book one day by Erich Maria Remarque who was a German and fought in World War 1. By the way, some of the battle scenes are used in documentaries about this war.

3. LE GRANDE ILLUSION


Another great film that leaves me speechless. The director is the famous Jean Renoir, yup the child of the famous impressionist Auguste Renoir, who created a masterpiece about war, class distinction, honour, fear, prejudice...you name it. 2 French soldiers, of different backgrounds, fly up to view something they saw in a photo that looked suspicious and are shot down. They are taken to a German POW camp where the head of the camp, played brilliantly by Erich Von Stroheim,  feels a kinship with his fellow aristocratic French man and they often speak of older times. The more, leader of the peasants, Jean Gabin, feels anger at what is happening and he, along with many others, try to escape. They end up in a very tight POW camp where, it is claimed, no one can escape. You see how the soldiers entertain themselves and how they relate to one another. the great thing about this film (there are numerous great things) is everyone speaks their own language so we hear French, German and English. I can't recommend this film enough.

Which films would you choose?


63 comments:

  1. I've heard of the first two, but not sure I ever saw them in their entirety. I would definitely pick Joyeux Noel about the Christmas Truce in 1914. The book about the truce, Silent Night, is also excellent. No battles, just real people experiencing war a long way from home.

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    1. I would like to see Joyeux Noel and the book sounds excellent! So strange that it is a true story and they went on killing each other after.

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  2. Hi, Birgit!

    Thank goodness classics like these are being saved and restored. As you well know, countless other great films, loaded with clues about the way we were, have been lost over the years.

    Clara Bow was a great beauty of her time and a fine actress. I studied her career in a college film course. I also studied All Quiet On the Western Front. It is, as the trailer states, a film so great, so important... "No man or woman can afford to miss it."

    I also appreciated the Orson Welles quote, "If I had to save only one film in the world...it would be Grand Illusion." I haven't seen Wings or Grand Illusion but, thanks to your reviews, I am eager to watch them both.

    Happy Thursday, dear friend BB!

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    1. I hope you get to see these 2 films and tell me what you think. Poor Clara Bow had so much talent but was so used by her dad, the studio and so called friends. She was one Dynamo of a lady.

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  3. You know, most war films are about World War II. There aren't many about the first war. I wonder why?

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    1. There are still quite a few people around who survived WW2 whereas no one is left from the previous war plus so little is around of actual film footage. There were quite a few films made during WW1 and after but since 90% of silent films are lost and they are silent films, again there is just another piece to be removed from that war.

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  4. I haven't seen any of these, but I had a hard time with this week in general. There's not many WWI films I've watched, but plenty of WWII.

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    1. I love this genre so this week was easy for me. I hope you get to watch some that were mentioned but I bet you would like Paths of Glory even though it is grim. It is an early Kubrick film based on a true story.

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  5. Haven't seen any of these but did hear of them. I am very fascinated about WW2, have read lots of books, etc about it, maybe too, like you, because my dad was in the Polish army and a prisioner of war. Don't know too much about WW1.

    Betty

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    1. We are just that far removed from WW1 that it truly is historical but we have known people who lived through WW2 and filming was already much easier. I would love to know more about your dad and his experiences. I bet , if he did talk at all, he could write a book.

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  6. Haven't seen any of these. First is the only one I've even heard of. WWI does have few films. Weird considering Hollywood likes to glorify war with hundreds of the movies.

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    1. There were quite a few WW1 films during the war and after but most are lost and since they are silent, very few people would watch them.

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  7. UGH I can't believe I still haven't seen Wings or Grand Illusion. All Quiet... is just stunning.

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    1. Stunning is right! You have to see the other2 films and hope you do.

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  8. Tremendous choices! I've used the first two myself other weeks so unfortunately had to pass on them but so glad to see them turn up here.

    I approached Wings with trepidation because it was silent but it was gripping from start to finish and encouraged me to seek out more silent cinema. It also made me a fan of Clara Bow. She's so amazingly ALIVE and vibrant on film, even in her sound films she retains those qualities it's a pity that mike fright and personal problems caused her to walk away from the screen.

    All Quiet on the Western Front is another one of a kind viewing experience. I'm not sure how Milestone did it but the film is so atypical of an extremely early sound film. When most films were having their actors static, talking around flowerpots this film MOVES and catches you up on a visceral level. Shattering by the end.

    Grand Illusion is much the same thing in that it weaves its spell so thoroughly that it entrances you once you adjust to the different languages being spoken. This was a recent view for me and I regretted putting it off for so long by the time it ended.

    I had a little tougher time this week because as I mentioned I had used the first two films other weeks but I did manage to come up with three though one's a stretch being originally a telefilm.

    The Big Parade (1925)-A young gadabout from a wealthy family (John Gilbert) decides to enlist in WWI to experience what he thinks is the romance of war. Soon he is off to France where he befriends two other men and begins a liaison with a young mademoiselle but soon the sheen of new experiences is torn away when they discover the brutality of war first hand. One of the great silents and an essential film.

    My Boy Jack (2008)-17 year old Jack Kipling (Daniel Radcliffe), son of the famous poet Rudyard Kipling, wants to join the navy or perhaps the army to fight the Germans but his poor eyesight prevents his entry. Rudyard uses his influence to arrange his commission with the Irish Guards, a move Jack’s mother & sister (Kim Cattrall and Carey Mulligan) bitterly oppose because it could mean his deployment to the front lines. Jack persists and enters training, then on his 18th birthday he receives orders to lead his troops into what becomes the Battle of Loos where he goes missing. Heartbreaking illustration of the waste of war was originally a TV presentation but with that cast and level of production it could easily be a theatrical film.

    King and Country (1965)-During WWI an army private (Tom Courtenay) is accused of desertion during battle in Belgium. Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Bogarde) is assigned to defend him at his court-martial and though initially frustrated by the simple minded man over time he learns there is more to the case than he thought. Somber and grim but worth watching.

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    1. I am glad you like my choices and so agree with what you have said here. I would have used The Big Parade but I spoke about it in an earlier post( last year for the armchair squid film society) so I didn't pick it here but it is so good! When the mom sees her son return and we see a quick footage of him first walking, to a little boy running and then sees him with one leg...made me cry. I want to see Dawn Patrol and What Price Glory( partly to watch the 2 leads talk filthy). My hubby and I just re-watched My Boy Jack and it is such a great film even though it came out on TV. It doesn't portray Rudyard Kipling as an idiot but as a man who truly believed in the patriotism of the day. Such excellent acting. I have not seen the last film but it sounds excellent as well. Oh and one day I want to see Hell's Angels as well.

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  9. I haven't seen any of your picks, but they all sound like great films. I'll check them out!

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    1. They are great and hope you like them

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  10. The Grand Illusion was a masterpiece. I also recommend The Paths of Glory.

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    1. Paths of Glory is another excellent film but so very sad and depressing especially since it is based on a true story.

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  11. WW2 is the more filmed of the two but there's still lots to go around and you've got some great ones.

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    1. Thank you and this is one area that I love to watch

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  12. There were a lot to choose from, Birgit. I might choose Schindler's List. Good Morning Vietnam also comes to mind. Wish I had thicker skin, though, to watch these movies.

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    1. These are excellent films but not from WW1. I will never ever forget watching Schindler's List. Usually, at the end of a film, people are talking and laughing when they are walking out of a theatre but no one was talking...there was complete silence as if people just witnessed an execution.

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  13. Hi there, Birgit,
    Haven't seen these.

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    1. Oh bummer...maybe one day if they are your cup of tea

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  14. I've seen the first two. All Quiet of the Western Front was poignant and heart-wrenching.

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    1. It was heart wrenching especially the ending.

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  15. I love war films too! Fascinating topic. I read All Quiet on the Western Front in high school and I really enjoyed it a lot. I only saw the TV version film.

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    1. The T. Version is also very well done but my heart belongs to the original film. I need to read the book!

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  16. Sadly, I haven't seen any of these. Wings and All Quiet have been on my watchlist forever, though. Need to go on and watch them, already.

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    1. Oh gosh...I hope you get to watch these sooner than later

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  17. The only WWI movie I can recall seeing was the third installment in the Anne of Green Gable series. It was a good story and well-made movie. A lot of Anne fans, including myself, were pissed though because it had nothing to do with the actual book series. I don't know why the directors and producers thought they had to make it be an Anne of Green Gable story.

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    1. If Anne lived around that time the one can't escape the war...at least on TV. In the books the author didn't want that reality in the books

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    2. The author actually dealt with WWI. But it wasn't as Anne and Gilbert, the young married couple, which the movie covered. Montgomery centered the story of the last book on WWI. Men going off to war,and women taking part in the war effort at home. One of Anne's sons died in the war. The author did a realistic job, in my mind, about how Anne handled his death. It stuck with me because it reminded me so much of the sadness the Mama carried for many years about the Baby Sister's death. Hmm, could be why I was disappointed in that 3rd Anne movie, even though it was a great story.

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  18. I haven't seen any of these, but I know of Wings as the first Oscar winner. I'm not a fan of war films generally, so it's not surprising these weren't on my radar.

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    1. I knew that this would not be your cup of tea. You are right that Wings won best picture and the only silent to have done so.

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  19. Heard of them but not seen them. Great sounding picks though. I think 'All Quiet on the Western Front' is one of those, 'i can't believe I;ve not seen it yet' films

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    1. You are right about that but I would say all 3 would be on that list

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  20. I don't know if I've ever seen a movie about World War I. I want to check your choices out as I'm working on a story that takes place during that war and trying to learn more about it. I love history so that's not hard work.

    Fascinating family history about your mom. I can't imagine all she went through.

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    1. I would say that they would be good to see since you are working on a story especially All Quiet and Wings. The filming of the battle scenes are often used in documentaries for WW!. My mom has been through hell and back

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  21. BIRGIT ~
    I've not yet seen 'WINGS'. I need to fix that.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  22. I haven't seen these and never watch war movies - just not my thing. But I really loved "Saving Prvt Ryan" and "The Russians are Coming!" (I guess that last one isn't exactly a war movie. lol) Have a great weekend!

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    1. I love The Russians Are Coming...great movie and take on the fear that is still prevalent in the U.S.

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  23. I like these films too. I haven't seen these but they are now on my list.
    R

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    1. I hope you get to see them and let me know what you think

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  24. I need to see more movies from before 1960. Plain and simple. Haha! I've always wanted to see Wings, and that little trailer is great.

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    1. I hope you do see it...great film and love Clara Bow

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  25. I have not watched any of these films, but I will keep these in mind.

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  26. We have this in common, Birgit. My mother also lived through WWII in Germany. I've seen the first two, but not the last one. Fascinating back story, there! I'll look for it.

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    1. I bet your mom also has many stories to tell.

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  27. Have seen bits of #2, and heard that about Lew Ayers, an excellent actor, IMHO. Don't know the other 2. We had a German lady neighbor who was a young child during WWII. Her Dad was in the army, but not a Nazi. They had to flee & hide, and she told us about some of the atrocities committed as the Russians took over. Lots of things I'd never heard of, and all of her family didn't make it to safety. She wrote a couple of books about her experiences. It was definitely an eye opener for us, as Americans, to learn about some of this stuff. War is NEVER a good way to solve the problems of the world, but guess it will always be with us..in some form or other. Always enjoy seeing your movie choices! Have a great wkend. TFS

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    1. Very few know of the atrocities that were committed by the Russians right after the war and my mom was one of them unfortunately. War is never a good thing--too much death and destruction and for what?

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  28. I have heard of All Quiet on the Western Front- but have never seen it. I was hoping to get a lot of movie watching in this summer- but it has only rained once or twice when I have been home and I have had too much to do. Hoping for a good movie watching day one of these days. :) Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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    1. For me it has been way too hot so I have been indoors. I hate the hot humid weather.

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  29. Wellman sounded like a many-faceted, talented individual.
    Hope you're enjoying your Sunday.

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    1. Wellman is quite the character and a devilish rogue. I had a great time card making

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  30. I've never seen Wings but I know the other two. I've been thinking about All Quiet on the Western Front this weekend. I just read Joe Sacco's Great War. WW1 was so pointless and AQotWF captures that so beautifully.

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    1. All Quiet also captures the futility of the war..it is brilliant

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  31. Love this post, Birgit. You've reminded me of all those amazing old war films... The Great Escape is possibly my all time favourite.

    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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  32. These times heighten our experience of life, so I can see why you enjoy seeing movies made about the war years. These are great choices for some oldies.

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