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Gabriel de Gravone
The idle son of a rich businessman joins the army when the U.S.A. enters World War One. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. He also falls in love with a Frenchwoman, but has to leave her to move to the frontline. Written by
Philip Apps <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The unit portrayed is the 42d Infantry Division (Rainbow Division) as determined by the three color (red-yellow-blue) rainbow patch (long version) worn on the upper left sleeve of the uniform. Casualties were so high that post-war the patch was cut in half and worn on the forward half of the sleeve instead of centered because "we left half our rainbow in France." During the transport scene the tailgates of the trucks are all painted with "42" and then the truck number. The credits thank the 2d Division (Indianhead) so painting the "4" prior to the pre-existing "2" may have facilitated that. The 42d Division was later a New York Army National Guard unit and you could find units in Syracuse, Geneva, etc. See more »
The three future recruits live in New York City (one works construction on a skyscraper, another works a bar in the Bowery), but during the recruitment parade, there are shots of wide avenues lined with low buildings and palm trees - clearly shots of 1920s Los Angeles. See more »
Waiting! Orders! Mud! Blood! Stinking stiffs! What the hell do we get out of this war anyway!
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gratefully acknowledges the splendid co-operation of the Second Division, United States Army and Air Service Units, Kelly Field. See more »
Movie takes place during WWI in 1917. Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) is an idle son of a rich man. He enlists in the Army when WWI begins leaving behind a loving girlfriend. He becomes buddies with Slim (Karl Dane) and Bull (Tom O'Brien). They go to France where he falls in love with Melisande (Renee Adoree). But then he has to go off to combat. Will he survive and come back to her? And how about his girlfriend back home?
The plot is somewhat predictable (I knew how it was going to end halfway through) but this is still a GREAT film! The first half deals with Jim, Slim and Bull in a small town in France where they meet Melisande. It's chock full of some very unfunny humor and juvenile antics between the soldiers--but the romance between Jim and Melisande really works. There's some truly beautiful moments with them--especially a nighttime scene by a lake. And the sequence where he says goodbye to her is truly touching.
The second half deals with Jim and his buddies in combat. The war footage is strong and (for 1925) pretty graphic. It shows the pain and agony of war quite graphically--but Gilbert's little speech in the foxhole is a bit much (and Gilbert overdoes it). It all does lead up to a happy ending which I liked...but didn't buy for a minute.
This is all helped along by a beautiful music score done in 1988. It really helps the move tremendously. The direction by King Vidor was astonishing--the battle sequences are exciting (and harrowing) and the romantic scenes work equally well. Gilbert is pretty good in the lead--it's easy to see why he was such a big star. Adoree is just gorgeous and makes a very beautiful heroine. Dane is just VERY annoying as Slim. He overacts constantly and he's the (un)funny comic relief--but he does turn noble at the end. O'Brien is pretty good also.
This was a HUGE hit in its day...but is completely forgotten today. That's too bad--it's truly a great film. A must see!
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