The Big Parade (1925)
The Big Parade (1925)
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Critic Reviews for The Big Parade
The Big Parade wasn't just an international hit; it immediately set the standard for Hollywood war movies.
Masterfully directed by King Vidor, this swings easily between comedy, romance and tragedy without missing a beat, and there are numerous set-pieces of enormous power -- even today, the harrowing battle scenes would rank among the best ever put on film.
Like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Big Parade gives a comprehensive look at then-modern warfare.
Audience Reviews for The Big Parade
A wonderful film on its own merits and one that is a must-see for any fans of classic cinema. What makes the movie work so well is the relationship between the three main characters. The actors all manage to convey a fully three-dimensional bond that is funny, heartwarming, and gut-wrenching. Their onscreen energy is magnetic and, despite having to overact to compensate for a lack of sound, hardly comes across as silly. One other thing that needs to be said is the sheer size of this film. The battle scenes in this are huge and surprisingly brutal. This can be a very violent movie when it needs to be and its sudden bursts are very jarring but effective. One can easily see where many war movies, from All Quiet on the Western Front to Saving Private Ryan, took their visual and storytelling cues. This is a war film that, unfortunately, seems to be largely forgotten by the general public and it shouldn't be. Let it be celebrated. Who'd like it: Film buffs will surely be engrossed. If you're looking for something for action-packed, then this isn't for you.
King Vidor's "The Big Parade" is the biggest blockbuster from the silent era, and became the gold standard to which all others were compared well into the 1930s. The story focuses on three American doughboys, fighting in Europe during WWI. Two are working class; a tobacco spitting riveter, Slim, a barkeep, Bull, and a ne'er-do-well son of wealth, Jim, who was shamed into enlisting by his family. These three go through the hardships of military training together, bond, and become fast friends. Their friendships deepen after they are shipped to France where Jim falls in love with a French farm girl. This comprises the first half of the 2 1/2 hour movie. The second half of the movie is the gritty reality of trench warfare. Some say that this is one of the first big-budget anti-war movies. I'd take issue with that, but the film does show the human cost of war without condemning it outright. Remember that WWI was 'the war to end all wars', and in 1925 this was still a possibility. But "The Big Parade" does take an unflinching look at the affect of war on both combatants and non-combatants. The performances and direction are excellent and silent or not, this is a movie well worth seeing.
it seems i watched nothing but silent films this week but this was among the best i have ever seen. king vidor's meditation on a young man's coming of age in the first world war holds up marvelously well. the first half is funny and romantic, with a good performance by john gilbert sans mustache. the scene where he takes leave of his french sweetheart had me laughing and crying simultaneously, not an experience i remember having before. the second half features some of the most poetic (anti) war footage ever filmed. i wonder what happened to vidor, such a master of the silents, whose career was never more than mediocre in the sound era. like 'the crowd' this is still not on dvd but absolutely worth seeking out. it turns up on tcm now and again. what a shame about that poster :(
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