The Big Parade - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Parade Reviews

Page 1 of 3
September 21, 2016
What a movie! What a storytelling, what a love story! And those nightmarish battle scenes. Watching this movie you keep thinking what's happened to the modern cinema. They just don't make movies like that anymore.
August 4, 2016
Recently in approaching the milestone of seeing my 5,000th film (at least by my IMDb list of my shoddy recollections), I wanted to make it a very special film, so it was between the blus of this and 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre'. That was a very special work too, but in retrospect, I felt this was an even finer film. I haven't seen much of Vidor's work (only 'The Champ', 'Hallelujah' and 'The Fountainhead'--all of which I greatly admired), but I knew he was a great American director to be reckoned with, for any cinephile worth his salt. Plus, I had always been intrigued by the then-sex symbol status of ill-starred John Gilbert (especially since my favourite actress ever, Great Garbo, was so enraptured by him).

This was remarkable. I was astounded by how Vidor (who said beforehand he wanted to finally make a film that wouldn't simply be gone from theatres in a week, but would play on for years, and that he would put forth a much greater effort if that could be the case, especially if either about steel, wheat or war) mixed elements, emotions and atmosphere so expertly. Even though it was a first-watch, since it was a silent film I thought it would be all right to throw on the Jeffrey Vance commentary, which contained four interview snippets from Vidor, late in his life in the 1970's. It was a wonderful cinephilic experience, and the book that enclosed the blu ray release was even more telling, with tons of pictures and essays about the American landmark of silent cinema.
April 9, 2016
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.
September 15, 2015
This is an extraordinary silent picture--2 hrs., 21 min. in length!--that is amazingly accurate in its depiction of the US army in WWI. It accurately depicts the horrors of war. Keep in mind it was filmed in 1925 only seven years following the Armistice! The version I saw on TCM was beautifully restored in HD and with a beautiful orchestral score. Don't miss it, if you get the chance to see this film. It was the most popular film of 1925 (there were no Academy Awards then). It was filmed at Kelly Field, the army base near San Antonio, the same location as the other great silent film Wings, the first Oscar winner.
May 26, 2015
This film is the first and one the most impressive films ever made on WWI, especially the extraordinary attack scene. Even if the romance story is may be too "larmoyante", the atmosphere of the trenches and the the soldiers' attitudes are very well given by Vidor.
½ April 27, 2015
Starring John Gilbert and Renee Adoree. While it's much too long, King Vidor's silent classic remains impressive as the first serious attempt to make a movie on the folly of war. Gilbert goes off enthusiastically to fight the Germans in WWI, only to learn of the horrors faced by men in battle. After Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," this was the second highest-grossing film of the pre-sound era.
½ April 20, 2015
A gritty silent era war movie.

Quite realistic for its time. Certainly doesn't glamorise war, unlike many other movies of that period would. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is an anti-war movie, but it certainly doesn't paint a glorious picture of war.

Not all good: the movie drifted in the middle. The escapades of the soldiers while in the camp in France seemed quite silly and just delayed the inevitable battle scenes.

The over-dramatic nature of silent movies also means this hasn't aged that well. The overly stereotypical characterisations of some of the soldiers, especially the hick building construction worker, was a bit over-the-top.

At the time of its release, however, it was probably revolutionary, and highly regarded.
December 16, 2013
Beautifully shot and acted. The story has unfortunately become the archetypical blueprint for most war movies, so it doesn't seem very innovative now although of course at the time it was made it must have been a huge breakthrough. The influence can be seen all the way down to Saving Private Ryan with scenes of the French countryside from both movies. The battle scene also looks average now, but in 1925 it must have been as technologically innovative as Avatar recently seemed to (most of) us. Its war scenes definitely influenced many war movies that came after it. It's also a interesting cultural relic to see how Americans viewed themselves and the recent World War generally.
½ July 15, 2013
The Big Parade is one of the best silent films ever made. King Vidor is able to capture the horrors and flowers of war brilliantly and with a strong cast (most notably the glorious Karl Dane, who unfortunately would be blackballed by Hollywood when Talkies took over the market) The Big Parade isn't a burden to watch like so many over acted silent films tend to be. Vidor doesn't dwell on unnecessary footage. Vidor gets to the point and continues to move his picture along without muddying it down with to much detail. As far as silents that aren't horror films The Big Parade may be my favorite along with The Passion of Joan of Arc.
May 9, 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013

(1925) The Big Parade

Influential film casting thousands of extras of a war, setting up an ambitious love story between a rookie soldier and a French girl. The time is during WW I when France were fighting against the Germans which Hitler wasn't in power yet which to me serves nothing but a backdrop to this love story that evolved upon the main star residing camp in some French countryside. It's called "The Big Parade" because there's a parade when the soldiers go off to war and then another parade upon the soldiers coming back. Some of the nuances work while others don't. I said that the film was influential because they're some existing scenes are identically similar to what one can often find in David Lean movies as well as other war movies that include love couples departing to go to war, particularly the part when the French girl tries to find her love interest off just to see him for the very last time while many soldiers are marching past her. I've only seen the 2 hour version from "Turner Classic Movies" channel which the original running time was supposed to be 2 hours and 20 minutes and felt that near the end was cut a little too short.

For the time being I'm giving this
3 out of 4 stars
January 2, 2013
King Vidor's war epic, The Big Parade is the story about the young rich man's son, Jim Apperson who joins the army right after war was declared. So does the tobacco chewing construction worker, Slim, and the bartender Bull, who all three becomes friends. Just weeks after, they are shipped to France, and stationed in a small French village, where all three falls for the same french girl, Melisande. But it's easy to see who she chose. But, then Jim's platoon is heading out to the front. And Melisande have to just watch while the love of her life goes away. The Big Parade is a good war film, with a lot of great romantic imagery, and also some great comic relieves from Slim and Bull. But the film also gives us some dramatic war scenes. Overall, The Big Parade is a good war epic as it should be. Thumbs up.
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2012
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.
July 1, 2012
recommended by rubystevens......
Super Reviewer
½ June 28, 2012
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 :(
December 12, 2011
The second half of this King Vidor MGM spectacular features arguably the most realistic WWI battles scenes of all time, leaving the first half, which is quite playful and romantic, a distant memory. The quick, moving finale, with John Gilbert and Renee Adoree, is that much more hard earned for the brutal action scenes prior.
October 26, 2011
Very good war film with subtle criticisms of war and patriotism
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2011
Every possible cliché that nowadays has taken the form of melodrama and cheesines had (perhaps) its earliest origin in King Vidor's invigorating war drama: the character development before the catastrophe, the typical patriotic American being sent with his friends into the frontline, the lover of foreign language, the hard departure of the lovers, the return of the wounded soldier to the family, etc.

In my humble opinion, American audiences have never accepted unconventional films as great ones until decades later. As weird and shocking Vidor's technique of splitting the movie in two was, it was still a giant financial success, and highly effective plot-wise. The problem is (and I beg you to keep in mind) the following: everything that The Big Parade features, you have already seen it. However, it acquires a meaning. Really.

August 7, 2011
Looks like an excellent war film.
½ March 18, 2011
**** (out of four)

A wonderfully shot silent film that shows the devastation and horrors of war even better than most modern day war epics.

John Gilbert stars as the son of a wealthy elitist. He joins the army and goes into World War I. He is sent to France where he falls for a frenchwoman while also becoming friends with two working-class soldiers.

The battle scenes are spectacularly done and the emotions are overpowering.
½ January 24, 2011
Now *that's* a war film!
Page 1 of 3