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Purchase Paths of Glory (1957) Movie Online and Download - Stanley Kubrick 🎥
Crime, Drama, War
IMDB rating:
Stanley Kubrick
Kirk Douglas as Col. Dax
Ralph Meeker as Cpl. Philippe Paris
Adolphe Menjou as Gen. George Broulard
George Macready as Gen. Paul Mireau
Wayne Morris as Lt. Roget / Singing man
Richard Anderson as Maj. Saint-Auban
Joe Turkel as Pvt. Pierre Arnaud (as Joseph Turkel)
Christiane Kubrick as German singer (as Susanne Christian)
Jerry Hausner as Proprietor of cafe
Peter Capell as Narrator of opening sequence / Judge (colonel) of court-martial
Emile Meyer as Father Dupree
Bert Freed as Sgt. Boulanger
Kem Dibbs as Pvt. Lejeune
Timothy Carey as Pvt. Maurice Ferol
Storyline: The futility and irony of the war in the trenches in WWI is shown as a unit commander in the French army must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack.
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Essay In The Master's Craft
This is early proof of why Kubrick especially loved the topic of war -- it inherently gave him two levels of directorial control: the 'normal' one at the director-over-the character level, and the implied one at the director-over-actor level. Douglas would later give profanely grudging praise to Kubrick about his methods.

The best part of this is the meta-level of conflict: that of rogue director against studio bosses, which is mirrored in the story narrative. Kubrick exploits this meta-narrative to get some fine performances from the battle within between Douglas and Macready.

Along the way, we get the nascent Kubrick visual treats centering on his trademark use of camera inertia - he would later build entire cinematic worlds on this notion (after gaining full auteurship).

Especially striking is the first sight of no-man's land when the flare briefly illuminates a landscape from hell. Also a striking effect, on the macro scale, is the jarring relocation of the story from the obliterated battlefield to the court-martial in Schleissheim castle, a neo-Classical beauty.
The Mutinies of 1917 - a fictional variant
Although he did the wonderful crime film THE KILLING before he did this, it was PATHS OF GLORY that brought Stanley Kubrick's talents forward. After PATHS OF GLORY he would make all types of films, but he would basically make them as he wanted to (although when working with his star here, Kirk Douglas, on SPARTACUS he would have such friction with Douglas that they never made any other films together afterward). So if it had not been for PATHS OF GLORY there would not have been LOLITA, DR. STRANGELOVE, 2001, BARRY LYNDON, and the other films. The Kubrick stamp of film artistry was born here.

The plot of the story is simple. Due to the system of trenches on the Western Front (that have France and Britain on one side and Germany on the other) the war has bogged down to a mutual bloodletting. It shouldn't been this way, but nobody that was sent to the Western Front through 1917 was a good commander. Von Falkenheyn, the German Commander at Verdun, was unable to hold onto early gains in that long, long battle. The best French General was Joseph Gallieni, who won the First Battle of the Marne by commissioning the famous "taxicab" army that drove the French troops to the front. But he retired. The actual Commander, "Papa" Joffre was popular with the men, but had a tendency of falling asleep at military strategy sessions. As for the British, Douglas Haig was saddled with planning global strategy for British forces in Africa, the Middle East, and India. His acceptance of the stalemate on the Western Front bordered on the criminal - he reduced the monstrous casualty rate to a simple war of attrition. With Commanders like Von Falkenheyn, Haig, and Joffre the war was hopeless. The suggestion of one more push "over the top" was repeated endlessly - and bloodily.

In 1917 units of the French Army had enough. The French Mutinies were long known, because of the trials and executions of hundreds of mutineers. One good result was the arrival at headquarters of General Henri Petain. His reputation is besmirched by his treason in leading the Vichy Government in World War II, but Petain was a senile old man when made a figure-head (a fact his old friend General Charles DeGaulle knew, so that he reduced the death sentence against the old man to life imprisonment). One generation earlier, Petain saved the army and France - a debt that really should not be forgotten. Yes he tried the ringleaders, but he also improved the lot of the poilu (common soldiers) so that they were not living like moles or rats all the time. The regeneration of the French armies that Ferdinand Foch would lead (with Haig and Pershing and their men) to eventual victory began when Petain took charge.


PATHS OF GLORY looks at the situation that led to those mutinies, and to one of the drumhead courts. Adolph Menjou is a leading general, who realizes that a victory is required for appearance sake (i.e., the politicians are breathing down the back of the French High Command). He invites his old friend George Macready to lunch and drops a hint that if they could find a nice victory Macready may get promoted (Menjou says this very carefully - no fool he if he has to deny it). Macready can just taste the promotion. He promises the men will do the job.

They don't. The job is to capture a well protected salient called "the ant hill", because whenever men are fighting over it they look like ants fighting each other from a distance. The leader of the men who are to charge is Kirk Douglas. In peacetime he is an attorney, so he has enough brains to question the intelligence of the so-called army brains.

Macready is watching the attack from a bomb shelter, and notices the men will not leave the trench. He orders an artillery barrage on his own men, forcing them to face the Germans. This will turn out to be a disastrous mistake on his part.

After the disaster Macready picks three soldiers to be representative of the troops. One of them is selected by a Sergeant who is a real coward, and who is aware the enlisted man knows he is a coward. Douglas defends them, but the court is controlled by Macready and his flacks. The three are convicted. We watch their last night , with one (Timothy Carey) certain that a pardon will come for him at least. Another gets badly injured in a mishap. When the time for the three to be shot occurs (they are set up like Christ and the two robbers at Calvary), the wounded man is slapped out of unconsciousness to see the firing squad getting ready to fire.

Douglas has been discovering what Macready did - and reveals this to Menjou. He hopes to do this to force Menjou to overturn the death sentences. But Menjou holds back, and lets the executions go on. We see him dancing at a dinner party while this is going on. The next day, when Macready is having breakfast with Menjou (and Douglas shows up), Menjou brings up the illegal act of firing on his own men. Instead of a promotion, Macready is being thrown out of his command, and probably prevented from getting further ones. Pulling his shredded dignity together as best he could, he pointedly states that at least he was a soldier (unlike the courtier - general Menjou). After he leaves, Menjou offers Macready's command to Douglas. And Douglas tells him off very memorably.

PATHS OF GLORY is a fantastically good look at military incompetence, corruption, and those shafts of decency that the common soldiers and Douglas represent. Although set in time and place in 1917 France, it's message is universal. It is a great movie.
Many films preach to us the horrors of battle and tout the slogan: "war is hell". Most only serve to give the viewer two hours of grand battle scenes interspersed with mostly forgetful introspective moments by the main characters. Then there is the film Paths of Glory directed by Stanley Kubrick. It could have been a grand World War I spectacle with a cast of thousands and sets rivaling the war itself. Instead, Kubrick brings us a story of a failed battle told from a personal side rather then the often used long shot of war, shown on a grand scale, so often used in lesser films. Paths of Glory is the story of an egotistical Generals failure and the lengths he is willing to go to protect his reputation.

What a truly grand film this is. Even though this is one of Stanley Kubrick's early films, his genius is plainly evident. In one of the first scenes in the film he took what could have been a long, dull conversation between two Generals and choreographed their movements, along with the cameras, in such a way as to keep the viewers attention. Also, the long dolly shot that followed the General through the "trench" is purely Kubrick. One of his signature moves that he has incorporated in all his films.

The film ends with a scene of a frightened captured German woman being forced to sing to the French troops. On first thought I wondered why this scene was in the film. Looking back this scene provides much more incite to the situation then first at hand. She puts a face on a faceless enemy, thus humanizing them. We see her fear and realize that the French troops, who are soon off to another battle, are just as scared and unsure of their own futures. She is the only person of beauty in a world filled with horror. The palaces that the Generals occupy are grand, but also cold and lifeless. She is alive and out in the terrible world alongside the men in the trenches.

War is hell, not only for the soldier but also for all of humanity, and the only Paths of Glory shown to us in this film is the one taken by the three men. This is what the film is truly about.
Scapegoating is such a dirty business.
This is a great movie. The story is compelling, the acting powerful, the theme sublime. This movie is about how the individual person can be reduced to the level of a mere statistic, a mere dot on somebody's organizational plan, a mere object to be sacrificed and never be missed by those in charge, who have their own personal agendas and will do ANYTHING to avoid taking responsibility when things go wrong. A military operation fails, and the general in charge is angry and he will not be the one stuck with the blame. As far as this general is concerned, the soldiers are a bunch of lazy, cowardly slackers who don't want to fight - even though the soldiers are dying by the thousands. But that is of no concern to the general who wants to blame someone for the failed operation because if the general takes responsibility he will be revealed for what he is: an egocentric, incompetent martinet who is interested in only one thing - furthering his career at the expense of the soldiers under his command. To pursue that selfish goal, this general will throw away the lives of the soldiers entrusted to him. This movie stars Kirk Douglas. But the real star of this movie is Adolph Menjou who plays the French general. On July 1, 1916, the British lost over 57,000 men killed or wounded while the Germans lost 8,000, with no appreciable gains, tactically or strategically. What an extravagant squandering of human life. But the generals in charge, who did the squandering, lived to fight another day.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave
In 1916 a French regiment is ordered to attack "the Anthill", a strongly fortified German position. The attack proves a disastrous failure; the French suffer heavy casualties and none of their soldiers succeed in reaching the German trenches. When a second wave of troops refuse to attack, their commanding officer General Mireau desperately orders his artillery to open fire on them to force them onto the battlefield. The artillery commander, however, refuses to do so without a written order. To try and deflect blame from himself for the failure of the offensive, Mireau orders three soldiers from the regiment, chosen at random, to be tried for cowardice. The task of defending the accused falls to Mireau's subordinate Colonel Dax, a lawyer in civilian life.

The film was controversial when it was first released in 1957; it was banned in France, where it was regarded as a slur on the honour of the French Army, until 1975. It was also banned for a time in Switzerland and Franco's Spain and (remarkably) in West Germany. Films with a strongly anti-war theme were perhaps unusual in the fifties, a period during which American (and British) war films were mostly set in World War II and were generally patriotic in tone, with war shown as something heroic. World War I, which could not so easily be turned into a glorious fight for freedom, was largely ignored.

"Paths of Glory", however, was based on a novel by Humphrey Cobb which had been written in the very different political climate of 1935, when following the slaughter of 1914-18 pacifism was more in fashion. At first sight, Cobb's title looks deliberately ironic because he depicts war as something far from glorious. To those who recognise its source, however, it appears not so much ironic as grimly appropriate. It comes from Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard", and what Gray wrote was "The paths of glory lead but to the grave".

The film makes its case against war in two ways. The first is by emphasising the futility of war. The only German we see is a female civilian captured by the French; no German soldiers appear at all. I think that this was a deliberate decision by director Stanley Kubrick; the French soldiers seem to be fighting not against men like themselves but against some nameless, invisible and inexorable force of nature, able to cut them down at will. They appear to have no more chance of capturing the Anthill than they would of capturing the moon.

The second way in which Kubrick makes his case is by emphasising the gulf between the generals and the man under their command. This is not just a difference in social class- indeed, this element is not emphasised as much as it is in some British productions about the war. It is more a gulf in the way in which they experience the war. The general staff, safe in their chateaux away from the lines, have no real idea of the hardships and dangers confronting those under their command.

Moreover, the generals do not even seem to be motivated by patriotism or a belief in the rightness of their cause. They are much more concerned about self-advancement and their own brand of office politics. When Mireau is first ordered to take the Anthill he demurs, believing that the objective can only be attained, if at all, at an unacceptable cost in French lives. It is only when his superior, General Broulard, intimates that a successful attack might be rewarded with a promotion that he changes his mind. When Dax complains about Mireau's behaviour, Broulard assumes that this is all part of a ploy to obtain Mireau's job; it never occurs to him that Dax might be sincere about trying to save the lives of three unjustly accused men.

This was not the first film to be directed by Kubrick, but it was perhaps the first to bring him to public notice. The battle scenes are well done, even if they lack the realism of more modern war films such as "Saving Private Ryan" or the recent "Dunkirk". The trial scenes, during which it becomes increasingly uncertain as to whether Dax, for all his forensic skills, will be able to save the three accused. Kirk Douglas is excellent as Dax, a sane and humane man in an insane and inhumane world, and he receives good support from the rest of the cast. Particularly good is George Macready as General Mireau, a man driven literally mad by unbridled ambition to the point where he is prepared to sacrifice hundreds of lives, not for the honour and glory of France but for the honour and glory of General Mireau.

The film is perhaps less well-known today than some of Kubrick's later efforts, but I would regard it as his first masterpiece, equal or superior in quality to virtually anything in his later work, including his two later anti-war films, "Dr Strangelove" and "Full Metal Jacket". Douglas was also to collaborate with Kubrick in his second great masterpiece, "Spartacus". 9/10
One of the greatest anti-war movies eve
This movie, along with the original screen version of "All Quiet on the Western Front" must rank as one of the most tragic versions of what war is really like. The arrogance and total disregard for the welfare of the soldier as beautifully portrayed by Menjou and McReady, in opposition to the care and concern of the Colonel so humanly portrayed by Douglas adds to the reality of what the world was like in the days of the "Great War." Additionally, the roles played by Wayne Morris, Ralph Meeker and the self serving aide to McReady add to the greatness of this memorable motion picture. There is no "Viva La France" here.
Less an anti-war movie than an anti-World-War-One movie--but it sure works for me
For me, the most compelling thing about this film is that is is based on actual occurrences: French troops did refuse to attack at one point during this most insane and pointless of wars. The movie certainly makes no attempt to be objective--and why on earth should it? From the perspective of the 21st century, it is hard to imagine a more immoral and outrageous event than World War One--in which an entire generation of several nations was led to slaughter for no detectable reason, except the pique of a group of so-called Great Nations whose era was deservedly coming to an end. Though I cannot comment authoritatively on how realistic the war scenes or the military protocol is--nor, I suspect, can anyone else living in this day--I found the battle scenes devastating, the dialogue often riveting, and the final scene extremely affecting. It would be best to see this film on a big screen, but it's worth seeing however you can. Kubrick might not have attained full mastery of his craft when he made this one, but he was still head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries. I have a slight preference for Grand Illusion as a film about the insanity of war, but this runs it a respectably close second.
Not really a war movie
In reading other reviews I see a lot of them saying this was one of the finest "war movies" ever made. I agree that it is one of the finest movies but I do not believe it is a war movie. The war is merely the backdrop for the drama that is human politics, selfishness and greed. The backdrop could be a corporate board room, any place in government, anywhere in which a bureaucratic system is in place with little accountability at the top. The lessons in this film extend far beyond the battlefield. I would say it is a must see to anyone interested in movies about moral inconsistencies, abuse of power, and the realities of the way the world operates.
If those little sweethearts won't face German bullets, they'll face French ones!
an absolutely incredible depiction of the insanity and terror of ww1. paths of glory is a film in which entertainment values are high and flaws are (very) low. the film starts with an over voice telling you the events that have happened leading up to the part you are about to see. It then comes into to army generals discussing the matters of an offensive on an anthill not far from there current position. this scene goes on as they discuss one of them (paul,played by paul mac ready) being promoted and to arrive at the battlefield as a battle commander what leads from that is an intense battle in witch there forces (french) are torn to pieces. one of the most exciting and intense scenes is this and is shot very well, with a slowly moving shot of the whole battle field, moving forward as they advance. at the climax of this battle the shelling becomes intolerable and there battalion is forced to retreat. The battle commander then commands that the position in which they are retreating to be shelled. this order is not carried out however due to the ridiculous of it and there fore is in an angry rage. in this rage he threatens to have them arrested and shot. after the defeat (kurk Douglas) the commander of the battalion is told by paul to have a commander of each regiment pick a soldier to be executed to give an example to the rest of them that cowardliness is unacceptable. after much hesitation, a powerfully acted court and an intense scene of waiting for death they are shot.then ending with a captured German girl singing to a bunch of drunk soldiers and with it bringing some peace to this horrible war ,then showing close ups of tears running down the bewildered soldiers face as they realize what beauty is again as they have obviously forgot. this film is incredibly powerful and even by todays standards is high. one of Kubrick's best.
A marvelous film about the STUPIDIST war in history with a dynamic performance by Douglas
This is a wonderful film and for those who are looking to see a Stanley Kubrick film that the average person can relate to, this is a great initiation to the director's work. Some of his films are a bit hard to understand or frankly make my head hurt (2001 is a great example), but this one is much more straight-forward and conventional than most of his other films while still being a great film.

The movie is based on a real incident in WWI. When a squad of French soldiers were ordered "over the top" (i.e., to crawl out of the trenches and charge across the battlefield while being shot down like dogs--the standard way of fighting on the Western Front), the men were so sick of the pointless fighting that they refused. As a result, the officers (who are shown sitting many miles behind the lines sipping sherry and living a life of opulence) order that some soldiers randomly be taken out of the group to be executed as an example to the others! The complete unfairness of the punishment, the futility of the war and the fact that the leaders were a group of soul-less fiends were the focus of this intensely interesting film.

The lead was played by Kirk Douglas. His job was to defend these poor men, but it soon becomes obvious that the trial is a show trial--the men are doomed from the outset. In some films, Douglas' style of acting is not very appropriate, but his bigger than life acting style and the way he ultimately explodes at his superiors is a wonderful addition to the film. He single-handedly acts like the conscience of the nation--something that was clearly lacking. A wonderful and intense performance on his part--perhaps only surpassed by his lead in the film LUST FOR LIFE.

This is a wonderful film about this war--a wonderful film to be seen along with ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Any true fan of film should see this movie.
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