Mock and The Armchair Squid present films that we have picked for this month. Last week I gave 3 clues and this is the film.....
THE BIG PARADE-1925
Stars-John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, Karl Dane, Tom O'Brien, Hobart Bosworth, Claire McDowell
This is considered one of the biggest blockbusters ($18 to $22 million world wide in 1920's dollars) of its time. It is also one of the first to depict war in more realistic terms which is often quite funny. One hears the army music and reads the words on the screen and one realizes how boring some of the days were spent and the crap they had to put up with. The first half of the film showcases this along with the hero of the story, played by John Gilbert, falling in love with a peasant French girl portrayed by Renee Adoree. The second half of the film shows the horrible dangers these men had to face which is death and destruction.
To see the young protagonist being a young, spoiled lazy oaf at the beginning of the film where his mom coddles him and his dad derides him can be related to today's kids. The happiness the people show as well as the men who volunteer to fight, does not prepare any of them for what is to follow. Only a mom truly knows the fear but she must let her son go and fight. He meets and befriends 2 other men from the working class and they form a strong bond. When they are in France, Gilbert's character meets the French lass and even shows her gum and how to chew it. I guess France did not know about gum until the First World War when the soldiers came. Eventually, they must depart to the front but not before Gilbert's character tells the maiden he will return.
My favourite scene (small spoiler alert) is when the hero returns home and his mom first lays eyes on him recalling when he was first born, his first steps, his first fall, and then seeing him before her, makes me cry every time.
Now most people are not into silent films which is a shame. I had to watch it in the morning because my hubby dislikes silent films because he won't give them a try. This is sad to me because silent films are one of my favourites. There were no CGI effects back then so what you see is exactly done. At that time, the industry developed enough where they could shoot outdoors whereas in many sound films, they couldn't because they did not have the technology yet to block other sounds. When the men are marching towards the Germans, King Vidor had a metronome outside attached to a loudspeaker. The men had to march to the beat, fire on the beat, drop on the beat-astonishing work.
I spoke about John Gilbert during my A to Z because he was the biggest star after Valentino died. He died young and was a victim of sound. Renee Adoree contracted T.B. and died in 1934. Karl Dane who plays one of Gilbert's pals in the film was Danish and due to his heavy accent, he could not find work after sound came in. He shot himself in 1934. A sad end to the 3 main stars of this film.
On that happy note, go check out the others and have a great weekend!