The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy
August 4–September 21, 2014
Related Film Screenings
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.
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 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.
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.” 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. 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. 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. 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.
La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion)
1937. France. Directed by Jean Renoir. With Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim, Marcel Dalio. One of the few genuine masterpieces resulting from the Great War, Renoir’s depiction of French prisoners ultimately escaping from the Germans is a pacifist plea for common humanity that failed to prevent an even greater conflict from breaking out two years later. In French; English subtitles. 113 min.
Das Tagebuch des Dr. Hart (Dr. Hart’s Diary)
1917. Germany. Directed by Paul Leni. Cinematography by Carl Hoffmann. With Heinrich Schroth, Kathe Haack, Dagney Servaes. Leni’s debut film is an effort to combat the anti-German propaganda promulgated by the Allies. The director would go on to make Waxworks and several films in Hollywood. Silent, with German titles, English translation, and musical accompaniment. 70 min.
Verdun, Vision d’Histoire (Verdun, Vision of History)
1928. France. Directed by Leon Poirier. With Albert Prejean, Jeanne Marie-Laurent, Suzanne Bianchetti. Largely pacifist in nature, this film about the great 1916 battle integrates actuality footage with realistic restaged material using many actors who had been soldiers in the war. Print courtesy La Cinémathèque de Toulouse. 152 min.
1928. Germany. Directed by Joe May. With Lars Hanson, Dita Parlo, Gustave Frohlich. May was a pioneer director (and mentor of Fritz Lang) who, thanks to the Nazis, wound up in Hollywood. Homecoming is about German POW’s who escape Siberia, only to wind up back in Germany in the midst of a love triangle. (This print is missing the ending, which will be revealed to attendees.) Silent, with musical accompaniment. 78 min.
A Farewell to Arms
1932. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage. With Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips, Jack La Rue. Hemingway’s novel, about an affair between an American ambulance driver and a British nurse during the Italian campaign, gets the ultra-romantic Borzage treatment—like his 7th Heaven (1927), it's a simple love story set against the spectacular backdrop of war. 89 min.
1992. New Zealand. Directed by Dale G. Bradley. With Robert Powell, Kevin J. Wilson, John Leigh. This is a heroic account of the Wellington Regiment’s short-lived triumph during Winston Churchill’s ill-conceived Gallipoli campaign of 1915. 100 min.
1927. USA. Directed by Mauritz Stiller. With Pola Negri, James Hall, George Siegmann. This Hollywood take on the confusing war between Hungary and Russia, made 10 years after the fact, allowed the Swedish Stiller, who discovered Greta Garbo, to move to Paramount and direct her main rival, Pola Negri. 80 min.
1927. USA. Directed by Rowland V. Lee. With Pola Negri, Clive Brook, Einar Hanson, Gustav von Seyffertitz. Negri plays a farm girl in Normandy who becomes enamored with a German POW. The film now seems an early plea for forgiving individual Germans. There will be a book signing prior to the screening, at 7:30. 75 min.
Les Croix de Bois (Wooden Crosses)
1932. France. Directed by Raymond Bernard. With Pierre Blanchar, Gabriel Gabrio, Charles Vanel, Antonin Artaud. Bernard was a major director (The Miracle of the Wolves, Les Miserables) whose work here is comparable to (and forms something of a pacifist trench-based trio with) Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front and G. W. Pabst’s Westfront 1918. In French; English subtitles. 110 min.
1981. Australia. Directed by Peter Weir. With Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr, Robert Grubb. Director Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) pours genuine feeling into this retelling of his fellow Australians’ tragic fate during the Allies’ failed 1915 attempt to invade Turkey and take the Dardanelles. 110 min.
Paths of Glory
1957. USA. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. With Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready. Kubrick’s fourth feature is a scathing commentary on the absurdity of a war fought by vain, idiot officers in merciless command of victimized innocents. 86 min.
The First World War
1934. USA. Produced by Truman Tally for Fox Movietone News. Screenplay by Laurence Stallings. Narrated by Pedro de Cordoba. This classic documentary, written by Stallings (The Big Parade, What Price Glory), prompted The New York Times to say, “If any motion picture is assured of enduring life, this is the one.” It was called a “stunning photographic anthology” and “a kaleidoscope of human imbecility.” 78 min.
King and Country
1964. Great Britain. Directed by Joseph Losey. With Dirk Bogarde, Tom Cortenay, Leo McKern, Barry Foster, James Villiers. This powerful Brechtian story of a British “deserter” from the trenches who just wants to go home is possibly Losey’s best film. Please note: this is not a great print, but it is the best currently available. 90 min.
The Lost Squadron
1932. USA. Directed by George Archainbaud. With Richard Dix, Mary Astor, Robert Armstrong, Joel McCrea, Erich von Stroheim. This interesting exploration of what happened to World War I pilots returning to the homefront as stunt fliers allowed Stroheim to revive his bread-and-butter "ruthless Hun" role, which complemented his reputation as a maniacal director. 79 min.
1930. USA. Directed by Howard Hughes. Dialogue direction by James Whale. With Ben Lyon, James Hall, Jean Harlow, John Darrow. Shown here in the UCLA Film & Television Archive's partially tinted restoration, the film's lavishly produced scenes of aerial warfare and Zeppelin bombing are visually striking—in contrast with its leisurely approach to dialogue sequences. 127 min.
1930. USA. Directed by Howard Hawks. With Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Neil Hamilton, William Janney, James Finlayson. In one of the greatest of early sound Hollywood films, Hawks’s clipped pacing of dialogue, coupled with Barthelmess’s superb acting, contributes to the tension and drama of a commander sending men on suicidal aerial missions in flying crates. 108 min.
1938. USA. Directed by Edmund Goulding. With Errol Flynn, David Niven, Basil Rathbone, Donald Crisp, Melville Cooper. Goulding’s remake of Howard Hawks’s 1930 version is less intense, largely due to Flynn’s more casual, or “leisurely” acting style compared that of the earlier film’s Richard Barthelmess. 103 min.
1927. USA. Directed by William A. Wellman. With Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen, Gary Cooper. Wellman was himself an ace pilot with the Lafayette Escadrille and winner of the Croix de Guerre. Thus the spectacular aerial sequences have the added virtue of authenticity. This is the film that essentially made Gary Cooper a star. As with Hell’s Angels, the love story pales in comparison with the aviation stuff, but Wings won the first Oscar for Best Picture (beating out Sunrise, The Circus, The Crowd, Seventh Heaven, Underworld, and several other superior films). Silent, with musical accompaniment. 139 min.
J’Accuse (I Accuse)
1938. France. Directed by Abel Gance. With Victor Francen, Line Noro, Marie Lou, Jean-Max, Jean-Louis Barrault. In this remake of Gance’s own 1919 silent, dead and mutilated French soldiers rise from the grave to try to prevent another war (which, sadly, would begin in less than a year). In French; English subtitles. 124 min.
My Boy Jack
2007. Great Britain. Directed by Brian Kirk. With Daniel Radcliffe, David Haig, Kim Cattrall. Based on the play by Haig. Rudyard Kipling pulls strings to get his son John sent to France early in the war, with tragic results at the Battle of Loos. 93 min.
1958. USA. Written and directed by William Wellman . With Tab Hunter, Etcheika Choureau, William Wellman, Jr., Jody McCrea, Clint Eastwood. Wellman, in his final film, returns to his youth, narrating his personal adventures as a World War I flying ace (played by his son, William, Jr.). 93 min.
1928. USA. Directed by George Fitzmaurice. With Gary Cooper, Colleen Moore, Burr McIntosh. Cooper, by now a major star, plays a British aviator in a squadron based in France who falls in love with the farmer’s daughter. Silent, with musical accompaniment. 91 min.
Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)
2005. France. Directed by Christian Carion. With Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Daniel Bruhl, Diane Kruger, Gary Lewis, Alex Ferns. A moving re-creation of the Christmas truce on the 1914 battlefield in France, as German, British, and French soldiers fraternize and exchange gifts. In French, German, English; English subtitles. 116 min.
Shout at the Devil
1976. Great Britain. Directed by Peter R. Hunt. With Lee Marvin, Roger Moore, Barbara Parkins, Ian Holm. A bit goofy, but fun, this film about a hare-brained British plot to blow up a German warship in east Africa at the beginning of the war is actually based on fact. 128 min.
Capitaine Conan (Captain Conan)
1996. France. Directed by Bertrand Tavernier. With Philippe Torreton, Samuel Le Bihan, Catherine Rich, Bernard Le Coq, Claude Rich. The film, set in the aftermath of the war in the Balkans as the French battle the Bolsheviks across Macedonia and Romania, earned Tavernier (The Clockmaker, A Sunday in the Country, Round Midnight, Coup de Torchon) the César award for Best Director. In French; English subtitles. 130 min.
2011. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Steven Spielberg. With Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Joey. Spielberg’s spectacular but moving adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s novel about a thoroughbred in France is one of his more passionate films, reminding us, among other things, that war, and particularly World War I, is also an unprecedented horror for non-human creatures. 146 min.
The latter three short films on the program (Peace, Death of a Shadow, and Tunnelrat) were made by filmmakers in Flanders, Belgium (where, amazingly, five major battles were fought), and commemorate the centenary in different ways.
1943. USA. Directed by Sammy Lee. This MGM film showing footage from the 1910 funeral of British King Edward VII features the major royal players in the forthcoming war, including Austrian Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination started things in motion. 10 min.
2014. Belgium. Twelve one-minute animations made by 12 different filmmakers. 12 min.
Dood van ein Schaduw (Death of a Shadow)
2014. Belgium. Directed by Tom Van Avermaet. A haunting and experimental Oscar-nominated film. In Dutch, French; English subtitles. 20 min.
2014. Belgium. Directed by Raf Reyntjens. A portrait of the gruesomeness and grotesquerie of trench warfare. In English, German; English subtitles. 20 min.
Maudite Soit la Guerre
1913. Belgium. Directed by Alfred Machin. This short feature that anticipated the Great War is presented in a stunning tinted restoration by the Cinematheque Royale, Brussels. Approx. 50 min.
Program approx. 120 min.
Silent, with English intertitles and musical accompaniment
Lawrence of Arabia
1962. Great Britain. Directed by David Lean. Screenplay by Robert Bolt, based on T. E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. With Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, Claude Rains, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle. This multiple-Oscar-winning epic calls attention to the British use of Lawrence’s efforts to liberate Arab tribesmen in order to to undermine the Ottoman Empire and take it out of the war. 227 min.; 10-min. intermission. 227 min.
Two Arabian Knights
1927. USA. Directed by Lewis Milestone. Art direction by William Cameron Menzies. With William Boyd, Louis Wolheim, Mary Astor, Boris Karloff. Almost a clone of What Price Glory, the film depicts two Yanks who escape from a German prison camp disguised as Arabs and wind up in Jaffa, where Boyd (who would later become Hopalong Cassidy) romances the beautiful young princess (Mary Astor). Wolheim was later directed by Milestone in All Quiet on the Western Front. Silent, with musical track. 90 min.
Hearts of the World
1918. USA. D. W. Griffith. Approx. 140 min.
The Better ‘Ole
1926. USA. Charles Reisner. Approx. 95 min.
The False Faces
1919. USA. Irvin V. Willat. Approx. 80 min.
The Secret Agent
1936. Great Britain. Alfred Hitchcock. 86 min.
The Redl Story
1955. USA. William Berke. 28 min.
1918. USA. Albert Parker. Approx. 70 min.
The Mysterious Lady
1928. USA. Fred Niblo. 96 min.
1942. USA. Allan Dwan. 95 min.
1931. USA. Allan Dwan. 72 min.
1930. Great Britain. James Whale. This is an abridged version of the film, running approximately 65 min.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
1921. USA. Rex Ingram. Approx . 130 min.
1927. USA. Frank Borzage. 118 min.
Tell England (The Battle of Gallipoli)
1931. Great Britain. Anthony Asquith, Geoffrey Barkas. 88 min.
1930. Germany. G. W. Pabst. 93 min.
Niemandsland (No Man’s Land/ Hell On Earth)
1931. Germany. Victor Trivas. 66 min.
The Heart of Humanity
1919. USA. Allen Holubar. Approx. 100 min.
All Quiet on the Western Front
1930. USA. Lewis Milestone. 128 min.
The Road Back
1937. USA. James Whale. 105 min.
1928. USA. John Ford. 97 min.
1931. Germany. G. W. Pabst. 86 min.