Starring Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy, Ben Alexander, Scott Kolk, Owen Davis Jr., Walter Rogers, William Bakewell, Russell Gleason, Richard Alexander, Harold Goodwin, Slim Summerville, G. Pat Collins, Beryl Mercer, Edmund Breese
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Expectations: Moderate. I’m not too excited to watch this for some reason.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a remarkable film for its day, and it’s one that still holds up impressively well today. It is a war film that contains everything you could possibly want in one: battles, boot camp, camaraderie, patriotism, disillusionment, the list goes on. The film opens on the patriotic high of classmates enlisting for their country’s greater good, spurred on by the rousing words of their professor, and it eventually works its way through the war to a very natural and emotional anti-war ending.
Set during World War I and focusing on the German side of the struggle, All Quiet on the Western Front is largely plotless and driven simply by the various episodes and struggles the characters go through. There’s no grand goal for them to achieve; the film doesn’t even attempt to convey the context of the war and which side is which. This one is specifically from the point of view of the enlisted man, the man who must die for his country and who stands to gain nothing more than the right to go back to his life if he survives the war.