2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ready to Kill More Germans, Soldier?,
This review is from: Paths Of Glory [DVD]  (DVD)
I must have watched this film about 20 times so this review is one I can say is by an expert in knowing if not judging the picture. It is undoubtedly a great picture but it does have a few flaws as all great art does. Firstly, Kirk Douglas is brilliant. His performance is as 'controlled' as any great soldier's performance would be, but 'cracking' briefly and dramatically and unforgettably at a key moment. All the supporting actors are also fascinating from Ralph Meeker (another unsung hero) to the priest whose name I forget and Timothy Carey (the 'social undesirable' who in life was similarly an outsider it seems). Also, Adolphe Menjou and George Macready brilliantly 'stilted' in many scenes as generals might have been. The trenches and the battle scenes are fantastic for their time, largely, and the famous long panning shot of the Battle of the Anthill (!) are superbly achieved. After many hours viewing there are a few moments which don't work so well. Adolphe garbles his lines a bit and the sound is not always precise. You could argue that that diffuse echoey (and therefore unclear) dialogue in the chateau is meant to be there as it signifies the airy attitude of the generals to the troops who suffered for the generals' 'ambition'. Also there is the coda which can on first acquaintance just move you to tears, but after 20 viewings might seem odd in some respects: 1) there are an awful lot of very very old men in uniform - maybe that is correct but it seems odd and: 2) the humming doesn't convince me - I know they might not be able to sing in German, but listen carefully and somehow the scene is perhaps more embarrassing than poignant? I only say this as a great fan of this great film - so I am being picky. 3) Sound is an issue. However, despite the tiny flaws, a great achievement with five or six really great actorly 'moments' and the brilliant 'walk down the trenches' which leads to the attack - ten minutes or so of cinematic genius.