×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

All Quiet on the Western Front

With:
Katezinsky - Louis Wolheim Paul Baumer - Lewis Ayres Himmelstoss - John Wray Gerard Duval - Raymond Griffith Tjaden - George "Slim" Summerville Muller - Russell Gleason Albert - William Bakewell Leer - Scott Kolk Behm - Walter Browne Rogers Kemmerich - Ben Alexander Peter - Owen Davis Jr. Detering - Harold Goodwin Lieut. Bertnick - Pat Collins Westhus - Richard Alexander Kantorek - Arnold Lucy Hammacher - Heinie Conklin Herr Meyer - Edmond Breese Wachter - Bodil Rosing Ginger - Bill Irving Miss Baumer - Marion Clayton Mrs. Baumer - Beryl Mercer Mr. Baumer - Edwin Maxwell Suzanne - Yola d'Avril French Girls - Poupee Andriot, Renee Damonde Sister Libertine - Bertha Mann Poster Girl - Joan Marsh

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020629/combined

A harrowing, gruesome, morbid tale of war, so compelling in its realism, bigness and repulsiveness that Universal’s “Western Front” becomes at once a money picture. For this is a war and what Shermann said goes double here.

Nothing passed up for the niceties; nothing glossed over for the women. Here exhibited is a war as it is, butchery.

And when the German boy, Back to the school which he left as a youthful scholar, as a hardened war veteran after three years’ fighting the French at the front, said to those young boys raring to go where he had been, that “war is dirty, it is death,” and the glory- to hell with the glory of country along with it, or something like that, no one in the audience could help but endorse that sentiment, for those before the screen had endured with the German soldiers all of their horrors, frights, amputations, privations and deaths.

It is this very thing in a very great talking picture that will draw the business and money to “All Quiet On the Western Front.” If, as they say, all of this was also in the book, then it is understandable why a story of this worst side of war did become the best seller.

Acknowledging the unbounded credit that must go to Lewis Milestone for the superb direction of a most difficult subject all the way through, there is behind all of this Universal picture, something else again. It’s quite true that U has turned out a talker picture that may live forever as a picture of the four-year war, and did so commercially, but to whom is due the rose for daring to make such a picture as this, with that commercialism in mind? If that person were young Carl Laemmle, who produced this film, then the kid is there with nerve, for he has done on that nerve perhaps something no other producer in the film industry would have cared or dared to chance.

Driving men and boys to their certain finish before those murderous machine guns, dodging all kinds of killing missles from the air, living with the rats, starving while fighting, forgetting country and home, just becoming a fight machine on a routine, and probably shell-shocked into future oblivion if surviving all of these war years; that’s the story and the picture you hear and see in “Western Front.”

It’s so real that despite the inner intent of the elder Laemmle to present a picture of the Germans in war, Universal has turned ou a stern object lesson against war.

As Louis Wolheim said in his character:

“At the next war let all the Kaisers, Presidents, Generals and diplomats go into a big field and fight it out amongst themselves. That will satisfy us and keep us at home.”

Or when Slim Summerville, likewise in character, of course, stated:

“Me and the Kaiser; we are both fighting, with the only difference the Kaiser isn’t here.”

Mr. Milestone left out nothing. Three or four deaths in sight of the audience; two hospital scenes; suggested amputations of legs so suggestively forced you can almost see them cut off; deaths by that war butchery on the field and a death by stabbing in the trenches, including the ghastly sight of a pair of bare hands only, for but a flash, hanging onto a barbwire fence.

And the shells come hurling over, the incessant noise, louder and hotter now and again, but always there; always war, and that running explosion of a ground set of torpedoes that blew everybody and everything to bits as it progressed. It’s all here and it’s all war.

Hard to throw comedy into the greatest tragedy the world has known or in this, the biggest and strongest drama ever screened, but they get it in, mostly through Slim Summerville as a hard boiled veteran, and another, the male lead role played by Wolheim.

Or again when three German soldiers swim, naked, across the river to the French shore, carrying bread and sausages to three French farm girls on the other side, and or of that other scene in the silhouette, of a bedroom shadowed on the wall with a bowl and pitcher on a table, and one of the German soldiers heard saying to a French girl, heard but not seen; “You are not like the other girls I have met,” and then the three German soldiers leaving the French home, after they come downstairs. That may be funny in Germany, but you can bet all of the hot dogs ever cooked it will never be shown in France.

And what a war picture, without an English or American soldier in it? And the best war picture ever filmed. Which is “Western Front.” Because it’s the real war, whether made in Hollywood or in what was the Western Front of the supreme holocaust.

This story in brief and taking in all that it does thereby, carries a group of school boys, enthused by their professor’s plea for fealty to country, from their training days through welfare to their deaths. According to this tale none of those German boys who broke up school one day to enlist ever returned, except one. And when that one went back, the old men of his home town were fighting over a map as to the best way for the Germans to reach Paris, and the professor was once again harranguing his scholars somewhat younger this time, not over 16, to fight for their Kaiser and country. This latter is one of the best scenes, without the air noise, that of the returned soldier permitting his real feelings about war to spill over, to be called a coward by those schoolroom boys who heard him tell the truth, but were just as eager to go as he had been three years before.

The returned soldier, tiring quickly of the false impression at home of the war, fighting and the front, went back to fight some more, and met his death from a French bullet as he was about to feed a little bird on the trunk of a tree. It ended the picture quietly and killingly, as that was war, too.

Every male in the world, from 14 years, up, should see this picture. Women will go in the main, although all may not, through the gruesomeness. Women like to cry and there’s plenty of cries in this, besides the thrills and also the knowledge of war that has and will be.

In performance one might say it’s due to Mr. Milestone’s direction and let it go at that. But there are standout performances, even in bits. Mr. Wolheim leads, closely seconded by Mr. Summerville, for those two must make them laugh as well, and they do; then John Wray in his fine character drawing of Himmelstoss, the post man who became sergeant and put the former pupils over the ropes as soldiers in training, with a laugh out of this when they turned the tables on the trainer. Raymond Griffith is the Frenchman stabbed and who died in the trench. He didn’t have to talk for Griffith died as no one else has on the screen; Russell Gleason who made a short story out of a pair of boots; Lewis Ayres as a heroic youthful soldier figure; Beryl Mercer who seemed as uncertain mother as she welcomed her boy home, and the Sisters of Mercy, the nurses and the doctors of the hospitals.

Production and photography in keeping with the direction, which tells much briefly, while recording and projection at the Central the opening night without a blemish.

“All Quiet On the Western Front” cost Universal $1,200,000. The League of Nations could make no better investment than to but the master print, reproduce it in every language for every nation to be shown every year until the word War shall have been taken out of the dictionaries.

1929/1930: Outstanding Production (Universal), Directing (Lewis Milestone)
Nominations: Cinematography, Writing

All Quiet on the Western Front

Production: Universal production and release. Directed by Lewis Milestone; produced by Carl Laemmle Jr. Adopted from novel of same title by Erich Maria Remarque. Adaption by Maxwell Anderson. Scenario by George Abbott.

With: Katezinsky - Louis Wolheim Paul Baumer - Lewis Ayres Himmelstoss - John Wray Gerard Duval - Raymond Griffith Tjaden - George "Slim" Summerville Muller - Russell Gleason Albert - William Bakewell Leer - Scott Kolk Behm - Walter Browne Rogers Kemmerich - Ben Alexander Peter - Owen Davis Jr. Detering - Harold Goodwin Lieut. Bertnick - Pat Collins Westhus - Richard Alexander Kantorek - Arnold Lucy Hammacher - Heinie Conklin Herr Meyer - Edmond Breese Wachter - Bodil Rosing Ginger - Bill Irving Miss Baumer - Marion Clayton Mrs. Baumer - Beryl Mercer Mr. Baumer - Edwin Maxwell Suzanne - Yola d'Avril French Girls - Poupee Andriot, Renee Damonde Sister Libertine - Bertha Mann Poster Girl - Joan Marsh

More Film

  • Jimi Hendrix sound check Monterey Pop

    Film Constellation Adds ‘Show Me the Picture’ to Berlin Market Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    London-based sales and financing house Film Constellation has added Alfred George Bailey’s feature documentary “Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall” to its Berlin market slate. The film will screen to buyers at the European Film Market ahead of its SXSW Film Festival premiere. Submarine Entertainment is handling distribution in North America. The [...]

  • 'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race

    'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race for France's Cesar Awards

    French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” and Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody” lead the race for this year’s Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, with 10 nominations each, including best picture and best director. “Sink or Swim” (“Le Grand Bain” in France), a star-driven dramedy about a men’s synchronized swimming team, world-premiered at [...]

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. Six of Germany’s leading thesps – Maria Dragus, Christian Friedel, Luise Heyer, Jonas Nay, Jördis Triebel and Fahri Yardim – will [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off Monday’s news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best picture favorite “Green Book” is set for more good luck. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars, which fall on Feb 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. The film [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Celebrities Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes Following Fan Bingbing Scandal

    Chinese film and TV stars have paid about $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) in additional taxes, following last summer’s scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced late Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the tax affairs of the entertainment sector last October. Companies and individuals were asked to [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content