The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy
August 4–September 21, 2014
Related Film Screenings
Hearts of the World
1918. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. With Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Dorothy Gish, George Siegmann. Griffith’s great epic focusing on the brutal treatment of the French following the German invasion—shown here in a newly restored, tinted print—was released in America eight months before the armistice. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 140 min.
The Better ‘Ole
1926. USA. Directed by Charles Reisner. With Syd Chaplin, Doris Hill, Harold Goodwin, Edgar Kennedy. Charles Chaplin’s older half-brother stars in this comedy/drama about a German spy who infiltrates a British regiment in occupied France. Approx. 95 min.
The False Faces
1919. USA. Directed by Irvin V. Willat. Presented by Thomas H. Ince. With Henry B. Walthall, Mary Anderson, Lon Chaney. In this drama of U-boats and the high seas, Chaney, in an early role, plays a German spy. His nemesis is the “Lone Wolf,” a reformed British thief played by Walthall (the “Little Colonel” in D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation). Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 80 min.
The Secret Agent
1936. Great Britain. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Young, Peter Lorre. For this somewhat comical spy-thriller set in Switzerland during the war (adapted from W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden stories), Hitchcock shaped the material to fit many of his recurring themes. 86 min.
The Redl Story
1955. USA. Directed by William Berke. With Bruce Gordon. Narrated by Raymond Massey. This episode from the I Spy TV series tells a sanitized version of how the Austrian master spy sold his country's military plans to Russia, helping to precipitate World War I. 28 min.
1918. USA. Directed by Albert Parker. With Gloria Swanson, Joe King, Harvey Clark. In this early starring role, released three months before the armistice, Swanson marries a Secret Service agent and is harassed by a former German acquaintance who turns out to be a spy. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 70 min.
The Mysterious Lady
1928. USA. Directed by Fred Niblo. With Greta Garbo, Conrad Nagel, Gustav von Seyffertitz. Garbo is a Russian spy, wooed by Austrian officer Nagel. The film marks her reunion with Niblo, director of The Temptress. Silent, with musical accompaniment. 96 min.
1942. USA. Directed by Allan Dwan. With Charles Winninger, Charles Ruggles, James Craig, Otto Kruger. More spies in America. German immigrants must decide where their loyalty lies. 95 min.
1931. USA. Directed by Allan Dwan. With Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Rose Hobart, Anthony Bushell, Holmes Herbert. British soldiers and friends caught up in a love triangle amid impressive battle scenes anticipating Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, some 80 years later. 72 min.
1930. Great Britain. Directed by James Whale. With Colin Clive, Ian MacLaren, David Manners, Anthony Bushell, Billy Bevan. Like other major 1930 films (Westfront 1918 and All Quiet on the Western Front), Whale’s first credit as a director focuses on the trenches and dugouts in France inhabited by men worn down by years of futile warfare. Colin Clive became famous the following year for his portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein under Whale’s direction. This is an abridged version of the film, running approximately 65 min.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
1921. USA. Directed by Rex Ingram. With Rudolph Valentino, Alice Terry, Pomeroy Cannon, Alan Hale. In this epic story an Argentine family of divided German/French loyalties migrate to Europe just before the war and are swept up in its bloody consequences. The film helped make Valentino one of the biggest stars in Hollywood before his untimely death. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx . 130 min.
1927. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage. With Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Ben Bard, David Butler. This tragic romance, set in Paris as the war breaks out, won the first Best Director Oscar for Borzage and helped Gaynor win hers for Best Actress. Silent, with musical track. 118 min.
Tell England (The Battle of Gallipoli)
1931. Great Britain. Directed by Anthony Asquith, Geoffrey Barkas. With Fay Compton, Tony Bruce, Carl Harbord, Dennis Hoey. This patriotic yet pacifist account of Winston Churchill’s failed effort to invade Turkey uses much actuality footage and is somewhat experimental in its use of sound. The film poignantly shows how schoolboys wound up leading battalions amid the insanity of trench warfare. Asquith was the son of Herbert Asquith, the British prime minister at the outbreak of the war who approved the invasion. Barkas had been a soldier in the campaign. 88 min.
1930. Germany. Directed by G. W. Pabst. With Gustav Diessl Fritz Kampers, Hans Moebus, Claus Clausen, Jackie Monnier. Pabst's great account of life in the German trenches bears astonishing resemblance to Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Raymond Bernard’s Wooden Crosses, and so many of the other thoughtful films made in the 1930s that attested to the universal catastrophe. Diessl had been Pabst’s Jack the Ripper in Pandora’s Box and had worked with him on The White Hell of Pitz-Palu. In German; English subtitles. 93 min.
Niemandsland (No Man’s Land/ Hell On Earth)
1931. Germany. Directed by Victor Trivas. With Ernst Busch, Vladimir Sokoloff, Hugh Douglas, Louis Douglas, Georges Peclet. Soldiers of various nationalities wind up trapped together between the battle lines. In this highly experimental film, Trivas makes a moving plea for their common humanity. In German, French, English; no subtitles, minimal dialogue. 66 min.
The Heart of Humanity
1919. USA. Directed by Allen Holubar. With Dorothy Philips, William Stowell, Robert Anderson, Margaret Mann, Walt Whitman, Erich von Stroheim. A Canadian widow, several of whose sons have been killed in the war, goes to Flanders to help care for homeless children. This is the film in which Stroheim famously throws a baby out of the window for annoying him during an attempted rape. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 100 min.
All Quiet on the Western Front
1930. USA. Directed by Lewis Milestone. Dialogue direction by George Cukor. Adapted from the novel by Erich Maria Remarque. With Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Raymond Griffith, Slim Summerville, William Bakewell. Milestone’s Oscar-winning depiction of the disillusionment of German youth after experiencing the realities of war parallels G. W. Pabst’s Westfront 1918 on essentially the same subject, and was made the same year. 128 min.
The Road Back
1937. USA. Directed by James Whale. With John King, Richard Cromwell, Slim Summerville, Maurice Murphy, Andy Devine. This adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front follows German soldiers back home to a Kaiser-less country beset by unrest and revolution. The film’s pacifist themes caused the Nazi government to force Universal Pictures to make numerous alterations. 105 min.
1928. USA. Directed by John Ford. With Margaret Mann, James Hall, Charles Morton, George Meeker, Francis X. Bushman, Jr. Ford’s film centers on a German mother whose sons fight and die on both sides of the war, again expressing the theme of a common humanity. The film is heavily influenced by F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise, shot on some of the same sets the preceding year at Fox. Silent, with music track. 97 min.
1931. Germany. Directed by G. W. Pabst. With Ernst Busch, Alexander Granach, Fritz Kampers, Elizabeth Wendt. In this German-French co-production, a metaphor for reconciliation that was released only 14 months before Hitler came to power, German miners rescue Frenchmen from a fire in a mine that had been divided between the two countries by the Treaty of Versailles. This starkly realistic film was yet another plea for pacifism in the closing years of the Weimar Republic. In German; English subtitles. 86 min.
The Lost Patrol
1934. USA. Directed by John Ford. With Victor McLaglen, Boris Karloff, Wallace Ford, Reginald Denny, Alan Hale. Often overlooked, at least before David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, is the major part of the British war effort that went into fighting the Ottomans in the Middle East—in this case, what would later be Iraq. Karloff’s religious fanatic and Max Steiner’s score are a bit over the top, but McLaglen was just warming up for his Oscar-winning role in The Informer the following year. 73 min.
1931. USA. Directed by John Ford. With George O’Brien, Marion Lessing, Warren Hymer, John Loder, Mona Maris. O’Brien, essentially a Ford discovery in The Iron Horse, here plays a Q-boat commander of a mystery ship charged with ferreting out and destroying German submarines. Ford fancied himself a navy man, ostensibly having used his yacht to spy on Japanese activities in the Pacific and eventually being named an admiral. 89 min.
The Tramp at War
1918. USA. Directed by Charles Chaplin. With Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Sydney Chaplin, Henry Bergman. In this silent appeal to buy Liberty Bonds, Charlie Chaplin’s brother Syd is cast as the Kaiser, who he played again in Shoulder Arms. 10 min.
1918. USA. Directed by Charles Chaplin. With Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Sydney Chaplin, Henry Bergman, Albert Austin. Charlie Chaplin’s classic rendition of life in the trenches was released just weeks before the armistice. Silent, with musical track. 35 min.
The Great Dictator (opening reels only)
1940. USA. Directed by Charles Chaplin. With Chaplin. Before his classic parody of Hitler, Chaplin created a similar protagonist in the German Army in the Great War. 16 min.
The Great War
1956. USA. Produced and written by Henry Salomon. Documentary made for NBC’s Project 20 series. 52 min.
The Silly Side of War
All films silent with musical accompaniment. Program approx. 113 min.
A Submarine Pirate
1915. USA. Directed by Charles Avery, Syd Chaplin. Screenplay by Mack Sennett. With Chaplin, Phyllis Allen, Glen Cavender, Wesley Ruggles, Edgar Kennedy, Harold Lloyd. Although the Lusitania had not yet been sunk and America was not yet in the war, submarines were in the news. In this goofy tale of a waiter-turned-pirate, Charles Chaplin’s older half-brother seizes the headlines—and a submarine. Approx. 40 min.
Yankee Doodle in Berlin
1919. USA. Directed by Richard Jones. Supervised and written by Mack Sennett. With Bothwell Browne, Ford Sterling, Mal St. Clair, Bert Roach, Ben Turpin, Marie Prevost, Eva Thacher, Chester Conklin. This typical Sennett comedy (violent slapstick, cross-dressing, etc.) pokes less-than-gentle fun at the Kaiser and his family. Approx. 55 min.
His Private Life
1926. USA. Directed by William Goodrich (Roscoe Arbuckle). With Lupino Lane. A spoiled rich boy is drafted, and his former butler becomes his drill sergeant. Approx. 18 min.
Broken Lullaby (The Man I Killed)
1932. USA. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, Ernest Vajda. With Phillips Holmes, Lionel Barrymore, Nancy Carroll, Louise Carter, Zasu Pitts. Lubitsch, the master of the musical romance, departed from his usual métier to make this touching story of a French soldier trying to making amends to the family of a German he’d killed during the war. 76 min.
The Little American
1917. USA. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille. With Mary Pickford, Jack Holt, Raymond Hatton, Hobart Bosworth, Walter Long. “America’s sweetheart” is torpedoed by a U-boat, becomes a spy for the Allies in France, and is sentenced to a firing squad. The film was released three months before American entry in the war and no doubt contributed to hatred of the “Huns.” Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 80 min.
The Patent Leather Kid
1927. USA. Directed by Alfred Santell. With Richard Barthelmess, Molly O’Day, Lawford Davidson, Matthew Betz. A Lower East Side boxer is drafted and regains his patriotism as he is severely wounded in France. The great Barthelmess was nominated for the first Oscar, partially for this performance. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 130 min.
The Big Parade
1925. USA. Directed by King Vidor. With John Gilbert, Rene Adoree, Hobart Bosworth, Claire McDowell, Karl Dane. Vidor’s pacifist romance about a rich doughboy and a French peasant, set against the spectacular canvas of the war, put Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on the map. This is arguably the best film made about World War I made after the war. Silent, with music accompaniment. Approx. 120 min.
What Price Glory
1926. USA. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Adapted from the play by Laurence Stallings, Maxwell Anderson. With Victor McLaglen, Edmund Lowe, Dolores Del Rio, William V. Mong, Phyllis Haver. The famous rivalry between Marines Flagg and Quirt is carried to the French trenches, bistros, and bedrooms. This film has been preserved and restored with support from the Film Foundation. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 120 min.
What Price Glory
1952. USA. Directed by John Ford. With James Cagney, Dan Dailey, Corinne Calvet, Robert Wagner, James Gleason. Ford’s color remake of the Walsh/Stallings/Anderson silent classic oscillates between seriousness and frivolity. 111 min.