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Paths of Glory (1957)

Approved | | Drama, War | November 1957 (West Germany)
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After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #58 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Pvt. Pierre Arnaud (as Joseph Turkel)
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German Singer (as Susanne Christian)
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Narrator of Opening Sequence / Chief Judge of Court-Martial
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Kem Dibbs ...
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Fred Bell ...
Shell-Shocked Soldier
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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. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It explodes in the no-man's land no picture ever dared cross before! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

November 1957 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

La patrulla infernal  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$935,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The German singer (Christine Kubrick) has the only noteworthy female role in the film. See more »

Goofs

After the court martial, as the sergeant is addressing the guards describing the procedure and discipline required of the firing squad, all of the guards in the rank have a "710" regiment number collar pin whereas the sergeant (and those in Col. Dax's regiment) have a "701". Although it might be a simple matter of the costuming department transposing the two numerals, the difference might also be intentional. If a firing squad is going to execute three men in a given regiment, then you'd want to have men from another regiment come in and do it to avoid having men shooting their friends. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator of opening sequence: War began between Germany and France on August 3rd 1914. Five weeks later the German army had smashed its way to within eighteen miles of Paris. There the battered French miraculously rallied their forces at the Marne River and in a series of unexpected counterattacks drove the Germans back. The front was stabilized then shortly afterwards developed into a continuous line of heavily fortified trenches zigzagging their way five hundred miles from the English Channel to the Swiss ...
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Connections

Referenced in A Very Long Engagement (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
In the score during the opening credits
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

KUBRICK'S GENUINE CLASSIC MASTERPIECE
26 February 2003 | by (San Francisco,CA) – See all my reviews

What to say that hasn't already been said. This astonishing cinematic work of art (no kidding) unquestionably is the GREATEST FILM EVER - bar none. I deeply and passionately LOVE this brilliant early Kubrick production. Congratulations to expert screenwriters (and unique pulp writers of the 5O's) Calder Willingham (who also penned his own excellent adaptation of "The Strange One"; highly recommended) and Jim Thompson ("The Grifters" "The Killer Inside Me"; which strongly influenced Tarantino), who both present a superbly incisive script with powerfully effective dialogue that really rings more than true. If only we had more real writers and scripts like this remarkable achievement, we'd be writing far more favorable reviews. "Paths of Glory", alone, would serve as anyone's lifetime achievement award.

I don't care how much you HATE B&W films - put this one on your MUST-SEE. Compelling cinema-verite photography creates astounding visuals from a varity of incisive angles; like the famous mobile wide-angle tracking shot of Dax (probably Kirk Douglas's most stirring and important performance) moving through the squalid and horrifying trenches as the battle begins with explosions breaking out all over. The suspense and tension is frightening, but almost beautifully eerie in the most compelling ways as Kubrick takes us through the deadly limbo of no-man's land - the 'paths of glory' which finally leads to the grave. The action, skillfully combined with powerful moral and existential themes are amazingly conveyed through the bleak yet articulately stunning visuals. THIS IS A FILMMAKER'S FILM!

The moral outrage of the sadistic injustice of the military courtmartial never fails to make my blood fully boil. The hypocrisy and corruption is degradingly infuriating. If anything will make a cynic out of you, it's this appropriately pessimistic and depressing cinema chronical based on a true stupid incident in WWI. What's even worse is how POG, in many perceptive ways, serves as an allegory for all the B.S. in real life: Pig-headed leadership in the parasitic hands of the superior greed freaks, two-faced deceptive manipulations, double-standards, backstabbings, social bigotry, arm-chair warriors, egotism, corrupt politics, the militaries's abuse of too much power - and it's destructive desire at satisfying it's lust for vainglory (sounds a little like Hollywood) - Did I leave anything out? You name it, POG has it - and I'm not being sarcastic.

The entire ensemble cast is superb with special mention to George Macready as the utterly pompous power-mad glory-seeking "soldier", General Mireuo (who thinks nothing about ordering his troops to open fire on his own men for not charging out of the trenches and dying for his "country"; which smells a bit like ME ME ME). Don't worry, you'll throughly hate his guts. It truly is true method acting. Again, kudos to Macready, a fine actor who was always too good at playing highly unethical villians. (Incidently, this was a favorite film of a young 195O's Marlon Brando and old salty Winston Churchill, who praised Kubrick's incisive authenticity in the exciting battle scene, which does resemble news footage).

Timothy Carey (also ultra-offbeat-cool in Kubrick's other exceptional early flick, "The Killing") is morbidly humorous and gut-wrenching as one of the poor fools coldly picked to be executed; all in the ruthless 'patriotic' name (and amoral game) of 'glory'. ARE ANY OF OUR LEADERS LISTENING? Too bad that Carey's memorable talents were so underused by Hollywood, but that always seems to be the unfortunate norm. A little like what ironically happens to him in this intriguing but downbeat story.

Ralph Meeker (who was also memorable as the brutal and ruthless Mike Hammer in the 5O's cult gem "Kiss Me Deadly" - a complete opposite role that shows a true range of his acting abilities) delivers another wretching performance as the true brave soldier unjustly sentenced for "Cowardice in the Face of the Enemy". (Maybe he should have turned 'about face', but it would have still been 'damned if he did and damned if he didn't' - another grim moral theme here). His breakdown scene right before he is to be taken out and shot is terribly heartbreaking, for I felt so wanting, but helplessly unable, to come to his help.

Take my word for it, everyone else is awesome; a true actor's dramatic show with dark satirical overtones. POG goes beyond the mere preaching anti-war diatribe (though it does convey that almost naturally, like going without having to say). It's a great classic morality play that will really make you stop (many, many times) and truly make you think (many many times). Airheads not allowed. Moreover, this haunting and disturbing masterpiece is top entertainment, something too many art films aren't. >

It will really make you question things about our troubled, convoluted world and how things are to often immorally and inhumanly run all in the sick name of greed and destructive power. Not too lovely, for the director pulls no punches. This film really has grown more profound (and currently pertinent) since its initial release. Also the editing is taut and concise; there isn't a single wasted moment. Count the number of films on one hand that has accomplished that miraculous feat; that most critics and user commentators are always rightfully harking on. I'll shut up now. Go see this one-of-a-kind film, then see it again - and again, etc. >


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