JR'S Free Thought Pages
Greatest Anti-War Movie of All Time
Paths of Glory (1957)
By JR, August 2022
I've read many of the great anti-war novels such as All Quiet on the Western Front, The Red Badge of Courage and Johnny Got His Gun, books I read as a young teen and they have all had a profound impact on my views about the quintessence of human stupidity called War.
Movies have been made of all three of the aforementioned novels, including Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo who was blacklisted during the disgraceful McCarthy "red scare" witch hunts of the late 1940s and early 1950s. A few nights ago TCM featured the superlative 1930 version of All Quiet on the Western Front which I had to watch again. If you've never seen the 1971 movie version of Johnny Got his Gun, it's a must. Trumbo, a brilliant author and screenwriter wrote the screenplay for Kirk Douglas' World War I film Paths of Glory (1957), arguably the best anti-war movie of all time.
In “Paths of Glory” Kirk Douglas was brilliant in the leading role as Colonel Dax. He was also the producer and insisted that Dalton Trumbo begin using his real name rather than the pseudonym he'd been using under the Joseph McCarthy hysterical anti-communist witch hunts. You will see Trumbo's name in the credits.
The character Colonel Dax played by Kirk Douglas was a lawyer in civilian life and defends three men allegedly chosen at random from the rank and file French infantry who were charged with “cowardice”. The cavalier treatment of the lives of these mostly working class men in the military by the arrogant officer elite is appalling and shocking – but in general is true.
Another of my favorites, qualifying as both one of the best all-time science fiction and anti-war movies is The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) that which is frequently re-run on Turner Classic Movies is my all-time favorite Paths of Glory. Others worth watching are Oliver Stones’ Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
Some amazing scenes from Paths of Glory (1957):
Contemptible Elite Asshole Commanding Officers in a stroll through the trenches:
In the Squalor of the Western Front (World War I) Trenches:
Order by a Psychopathic Officer
Your Men Died Very Well:
Execution of “Cowards” picked at Random from Regiment
Kirk Douglas Amazing Performance
Any young person, however destitute, that considers the military, police or any other authoritarian culture of mindless humiliation and obedience ought to watch the brilliant 1965 Sidney Lumet movie The Hill . The movie takes place within a brutal military prison as the rigid class system, racism; idiocies and barbarism of military life are on full display, especially for the ordinary soldier who was treated as a feudal serf or slave by the commanding officers. Sean Connery and Ossie Davis were excellent in their roles. Some scenes:
After experimenting with Boy Scouts (early training for future soldiers – aka killing machines for the state) and the air head cadets for which I lasted one day, I didn’t want to be caught dead in any uniform with marching, saluting and having to tolerate some sociopathic moron with a room temperature screaming orders at me.
Monty Python skits:
George Carlin on American Ruling Elites Love of War
Masters of War – Bob Dylan
Rich Man’s War – Steve Earle
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
CCR – Fortunate Son
Edwin Starr – War
Rolling Stones – Give Me Shelter
The Cranberries –Zombie
Jimi Hendrix - Star Spangled Banner (Woodstock)
Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower