The Big Parade Reviews

  • May 28, 2019

    Well done silent film from 1925. I've always found it difficult to watch these silent movies, but this one comes close to being top of the genre.

    Well done silent film from 1925. I've always found it difficult to watch these silent movies, but this one comes close to being top of the genre.

  • Jan 26, 2019

    The best, GREATEST thrilling epic romance movie ever made!

    The best, GREATEST thrilling epic romance movie ever made!

  • Antonius B Super Reviewer
    Mar 02, 2018

    I found it tough to rate this film, because the strength of its WWI action footage is offset by a weak build-up and silly romance. The film is commendable in showing us the horrors of war in a dramatic hellscape, but at 151 minutes, it's far too long, and would have been better if the 90 minute build-up had been edited down. It's to great fanfare that a rich young American (John Gilbert) enlists, and it is nice that the film (eventually) contrasts this tone of those scenes to the reality of war, since this is precisely the disillusionment the world went through. He befriends a couple of blue collar guys (Karl Dane and Tom O'Brien), and oddly enough, there's very little concept of military command early on. The men go to France, get settled into a village, and after inexplicably shoveling a manure pile the first night, they're free to carouse about and hit on the local women, one of whom is Renee Adoree. The film moves at a snail's pace, with drawn out scenes and gags that aren't funny, culminating in a highly melodramatic goodbye scene with Adoree when the men are finally called up to the front. Here is where the film gets interesting, though it's not until the 105 minute point before we see anything that resembles authenticity. At first our heroes are walking calmly through a forest while snipers shoot at them, advancing despite soldiers falling until they reach a tree line, at which point the Germans simply raise their hands in surrender. Good grief. Eventually they reach pockmarked, barren fields, and after facing explosions and chemical weapons, hunker down. The film's silly tone is finally broken when one of them is hit, and another screams out into the night "I came to fight - not to wait and rot in a lousy hole while they murder my pal! Waiting! Orders! Mud! Blood! Stinking stiffs! What the hell do we get out of this war anyway!" before crawling out and trying to save him. Upon finding him dead, he screams "They got him! They got him! GOD DAMN THEIR SOULS!" and then charges a machine gun nest. It's meant to have high emotional impact, and at least it's action, but it seems a little ridiculous. It does get better still though, and I have to give the film credit for showing the devastating impact of war. The cinematography is awe-inspiring and frightening. Men advance like ghostly zombies through smoke, gunfire, and explosions, emerging through haze in darkened scenes splashed with pyrotechnics. There is a touching scene with an enemy soldier in a pothole, impressive as it predates 'All Quiet on the Western Front'. The human empathy and feeling that we're all brothers resonates all the more, having come just moments after a murderous rage. The aftermath is also good. I loved the brief scene in the hospital, the shots of the French abandoning bombed out buildings, and later the family reunion. As mother and son embrace, director King Vidor overlays a powerful montage of maternal memories of the boy through the years, my favorite sequence. The last 45 minutes has gravitas, fantastic scenes, and a real message, and is easily 4 out of 5 stars. However, I can't overlook the first 105 minutes, and it's unlikely I would want to watch the film again because of them.

    I found it tough to rate this film, because the strength of its WWI action footage is offset by a weak build-up and silly romance. The film is commendable in showing us the horrors of war in a dramatic hellscape, but at 151 minutes, it's far too long, and would have been better if the 90 minute build-up had been edited down. It's to great fanfare that a rich young American (John Gilbert) enlists, and it is nice that the film (eventually) contrasts this tone of those scenes to the reality of war, since this is precisely the disillusionment the world went through. He befriends a couple of blue collar guys (Karl Dane and Tom O'Brien), and oddly enough, there's very little concept of military command early on. The men go to France, get settled into a village, and after inexplicably shoveling a manure pile the first night, they're free to carouse about and hit on the local women, one of whom is Renee Adoree. The film moves at a snail's pace, with drawn out scenes and gags that aren't funny, culminating in a highly melodramatic goodbye scene with Adoree when the men are finally called up to the front. Here is where the film gets interesting, though it's not until the 105 minute point before we see anything that resembles authenticity. At first our heroes are walking calmly through a forest while snipers shoot at them, advancing despite soldiers falling until they reach a tree line, at which point the Germans simply raise their hands in surrender. Good grief. Eventually they reach pockmarked, barren fields, and after facing explosions and chemical weapons, hunker down. The film's silly tone is finally broken when one of them is hit, and another screams out into the night "I came to fight - not to wait and rot in a lousy hole while they murder my pal! Waiting! Orders! Mud! Blood! Stinking stiffs! What the hell do we get out of this war anyway!" before crawling out and trying to save him. Upon finding him dead, he screams "They got him! They got him! GOD DAMN THEIR SOULS!" and then charges a machine gun nest. It's meant to have high emotional impact, and at least it's action, but it seems a little ridiculous. It does get better still though, and I have to give the film credit for showing the devastating impact of war. The cinematography is awe-inspiring and frightening. Men advance like ghostly zombies through smoke, gunfire, and explosions, emerging through haze in darkened scenes splashed with pyrotechnics. There is a touching scene with an enemy soldier in a pothole, impressive as it predates 'All Quiet on the Western Front'. The human empathy and feeling that we're all brothers resonates all the more, having come just moments after a murderous rage. The aftermath is also good. I loved the brief scene in the hospital, the shots of the French abandoning bombed out buildings, and later the family reunion. As mother and son embrace, director King Vidor overlays a powerful montage of maternal memories of the boy through the years, my favorite sequence. The last 45 minutes has gravitas, fantastic scenes, and a real message, and is easily 4 out of 5 stars. However, I can't overlook the first 105 minutes, and it's unlikely I would want to watch the film again because of them.

  • Jan 15, 2018

    1001 movies to see before you die. A sobering WWI drama with a fun 20s feel and cast.

    1001 movies to see before you die. A sobering WWI drama with a fun 20s feel and cast.

  • Jan 30, 2017

    The Big Parade is overlong, not entirely involving and sometimes not as well constructed, but it is a very good anti-war film with excellent action sequences, beautiful cinematography with some wonderful imagery and excellent direction and acting. But the highlights were those romantic scenes which were heartwarming, funny and immensely charming.

    The Big Parade is overlong, not entirely involving and sometimes not as well constructed, but it is a very good anti-war film with excellent action sequences, beautiful cinematography with some wonderful imagery and excellent direction and acting. But the highlights were those romantic scenes which were heartwarming, funny and immensely charming.

  • Sep 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.

    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.

  • Apr 09, 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.

    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.

  • Sep 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.

    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.

    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.

  • Apr 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.

    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.