Sunday, October 11, 2009

29. The Big Parade (1925)

Running Time: 130 minutes
Directed By: King Vidor
Written By: Harry Behn, Joseph Farnham
Main Cast: John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, Tom O'Brien, Karl Dane


This one was getting ready to be entry #5 in our "Unfound Files" for a long time, before a post on IMDB, put me on the trail of the YouTube video and I found the entire film broken into thirteen parts there.
Jim, our movies' hero and played by John Gilbert, is a rich boy, who lives off the loot that his father brings in and is looked down upon by his suck up of a brother. When war is declared (World War I, to be exact) Jim's girlfriend and one true love Justyn, urges Jim to enlist and serve his country proud. So as not to look like a coward, Jim plays along with his girlfriend's ideas and enlists in the army. It is here he meets and befriends, Bull and Slim, two men from very different backgrounds.

While in France, smack dab in the middle of World War I, but not seeing much action, just from their commanding officers' mouths, Jim meets Melisande, a french woman who lives on a farm. When his buddies aren't badgering him, he sneaks off to meet with Melisande, and provides us with quite a hilarious little scene, where he teaches her to chew gum, because apparently she had never had it before. The two eventually fall in love, but unfortunately their love isn't given long to blossom.

One day, it is announced that Jim and his troop will be shipping out of the town where Melisande lives and moving to the front of the war. The most heartbreaking scene of the movie is inserted here, as a very emotional goodbye between the new found lovers transpires, leaving your bold journeyman nearly in tears.

Here, we the viewer, see the real "war movie" come out in The Big Parade, as we're treated to guns, explosions and all that good stuff that goes along with war. A very nice scene transpires, in which Jim's troop are making their way through a field, with some tree cover, and trying to dodge the snipers and machine gunners that await them. Eventually, Jim, Bull and Slim find themselves in the trenches, sharing a tin of corned beef and some cigarettes, and trying their best to keep their heads up and stay alive, in a very difficult time.

I must admit that one of my least favorite genre's of film is the war movie. I've just never been a big fan of any film that depicts war or shows the perils of combat. While there are a few that catch my eye, for the most part...not a fan. That being said, I can say that The Big Parade was not bad at all. Unlike other war movies, where all we're shown is the combat and the battle sequences, The Big Parade allows the viewer to get close to the characters, and get comfortable with them, before throwing them into battle. It provides us with comedy and tragedy and executes both very well. While The Big Parade, is definitely not my favorite movie so far, I think it'll be one that comes up in my next discussion of "Favorite War Films".

RATING: 6.5/10 Not bad at all, from me, for a war movie. I really couldn't go any higher right now, but maybe with a repeated viewing the 6.5 could rise.

NEXT UP: Metropolis...The director of the worst movie I've seen thus far, returns, with a movie that is lauded as the greatest silent picture ever made. We shall see.

October 11, 2009 10:48pm


  1. Ok as I am the opposite and do usually enjoy war movies I could see myself really enjoying this one! I will have to check it out sometime and see how I feel about it.

  2. For such a well known film, that has HUGE in it's day, why is this so difficult to get? I eventualy got a friend to get me a copy on disc on Ebay.. so I had an annoying TCM logo in one corner.
    But at last I got to see John Gilbert.. one of the saddest 'victims' of sound. Huge as a silent star, his voice didn't live up too the image, and he lost the lot. (I gather there are rumours that the studio deliberatly spoilt his voice recordings)
    But anyway, the film...
    Some superb moments.. as you mention, the advance through the wood.. and the shell hole sequence (All quiet on the western front did it slightly better a few years later), and some slow bits, but I thought it quite good.


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