All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Universal Pictures Corporation 1930, 1958; MCA Home Video
"Unlike most "message" films which date almost immediately, Lewis Milestone's low-key, unpolished and deeply-felt screen adaptation of the Erich Maria Remarque anti-war novel has lost little of its original impact. Years after its release it was still being banned in countries mobilizing for war. The plot follows a group of young German recruits in World War I through their passage from idealism to disillusionment, until the central character Paul Baumer (Lew Ayres) declares, "We live in the trenches and we fight. We try not to be killed--that's all." All Quiet on the Western Front is an anthology of now-famous scenes--Ayres trapped in a shell crater with a man he has killed; the first meeting of the recruits and the veterans; infantrymen being mowed down to machine-gun visual rhythms; a moonlight swim with French farm girls; Ayres' pacifist speech to his astonished schoolmates; and the final shot of the soldier's hand reaching for a fatal butterfly." [Description taken from cassette box] The movie stars Lew Ayres, Louis Wolhein, with John Wray, Slim Summerville, and William Bakewell. It was designated one of AFI's "100 Greatest Movies."
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