A second film version (the first was made in 1930) of Erich Maria Remarque's story about a group of idealistic young Germans recruited to fight on the Western Front in 1914. Amongst their number is the patriotic Paul Baumer (Richard Thomas), whose preconceptions are rapidly shattered upon witnessing the horror of life at the front. Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence and Ian Holm also star.
Taken from the novel
by Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
is a devastating portrait of a small group of German soldiers during World War I. In this 1979 made-for-TV version the star-studded cast is lead by Richard Thomas (The Waltons
) as Paul Baumer, strongly supported by screen veterans Ernest Borgnine, Ian Holm and Patricia Neal. As both narrator and star, Thomas occasionally seems to reincarnate his familiar John-Boy persona, but does at least succeed in creating a character that has more levels than his television alter ego
. After watching all of his high school buddies loose their lives, Paul returns home a changed man, conflicted in his feelings about the Army and war, and altered from an idealistic schoolboy into a fearful and humble veteran.
Although Lewis Milestone's 1930 films remains the cinema's definitive version, director Delbert Mann (Desire Under the Elms, Marty) has done a workmanlike job bringing the novel to the screen. The scenery and costuming in this period piece are well done, and surely contributed to its winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Made for TV. Also exceptional are the cinematography and special effects that, while realistically gruesome, truly emphasise the horrors of war. --Zachary Lively, Amazon.com
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