Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Paths of Glory (1957)

“The paths of glory lead but to the grave”

The Alamo Lakecreek is doing a Stanley Kubrick retrospective this month, showing “The Killing” and “Paths of Glory,” neither of which I have ever seen. This screening marked the 9th Stanley Kubrick film I've seen in theaters. The others being “The Shining,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” “Lolita,” and the rarely screened “Fear and Desire.”

Kirk Douglas stars as Col. Dax, the leader of a 1916 French army that is asked to complete an impossible task, attack and take control of a German stronghold known as “the Ant Hill.” When the inevitable happens and the army succumbs to stronger forces, the powers that be decide to make an example of them. After some deliberation, three men are selected as scapegoats to be unfairly executed for cowardliness. The unfortunate three are played by the amazing Tim Carey, Joseph Turkel, & Ralph Meeker. Douglas' character then defends his men in court marshal case that is heavily biased to see the least and with the deck stacked against them, all four of the men must learn to accept their fate.

Without a happy ending in sight, “Paths of Glory” manages to be a strangely moving and accurate war film. The trench-fighting scenes are great and still hold up quite well, and Douglas is very strong as a man whose convictions must constantly toe the line between patriotism and decent. There are a lot of subtle touches in both the dialog and the performances that I imagine only increase your enjoyment upon further viewings. I can't stress how much I liked Tim Carey in this movie, as my girlfriend remarked, “he's like a one-man-Coen-Brother-film.”

My only real beef with the movie is that the climatic final sequence in which Col. Dax finally unloads his frustration to his superior felt a little underwhelming to me, considering the build up. Still, a really good Stanley Kubrick film, who would of thought?

“Paths of Glory” screened on 8/6/08 at 7:30 at the Alamo Lakecreek.

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