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... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
When Jim is getting dressed in the hayloft for his date, Slim jokingly refers to him as "Mr. Hemingway". When the film was being made in 1924-25 Ernest Hemingway was becoming famous, but in the movie's time frame of 1917, he was still unknown. See more »
I noticed that some reviews referred to this as the greatest war film ever or the greatest silent or the greatest silent. Well, while this is very debatable. You could easily argue that WINGS (1927), ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930) or WESTFRONT 1918 (1930) were all possibly better WWI films--but doing so does all the films a disservice. After all, can't they all be great films and who says any one of these (or another) is the greatest? And, each is amazing in its own way. Plus, how can you compare a silent to a sound film? And what about films about other wars? And what about non-war silent films?
While I could see some flaws in THE BIG PARADE, you can't really compare it to films made later (technically they were so different and the style of storytelling changed a lot over the years). This film earns a 10 relative to other films of the day--other films made about 1925 aren't any better. The film has many pluses--large and rather realistic battles that are very emotionally draining, good acting by the lead (John Gilbert's performance was relatively subdued and very effective) and the story was very touching--such as when the hero's mother sees him towards the end of the film. Sure, there are a few minuses (the love between Gilbert and Renée Adorée seemed too shallow and brief to be so strong) but they are so outweighed by the strengths that they seem petty to dwell on in this review.
Compelling and very watchable over 80 years later--this is one of the great silents.
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