Paths of Glory

(DVD - 2010)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Paths of Glory
During WWI, a French battalion is ordered on a suicide mission that is likely to fail. When it does, the general that planned the mission selects three soldiers from the battalion to be executed for cowardice, and selects their leader as their attorney.

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Publisher: [United States] : The Criterion Collection, 2010.
Edition: Special ed.
ISBN: 9781604653403
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (88 min.) :,sd., b&w ;,4 3/4 in.


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Dec 20, 2014
  • plotline rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Brutal Irony In The Trenches

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," - Samuel Johnson, 1775

Here, Kubrick establishes an important thematic component that is present in many of his great films. The idea of entrenched authority answerable only to itself and running amok with cruel insensitivity would seem like the fearful concerns of a paranoiac except that Kubrick is informed by reality.

The film is named after and based on Humphrey Cobb's 1935 novel which was based on actual events, making Kubrick's depiction of the sadistic generals unassailable. Their ill-advised forays into the battlefield are horrifying. When their folly turns into unimaginable tragedy we enter the realm of the demented.

Willing to maintain their status and power at a terrible human cost the depraved military leaders persecute brave men who are guilty only of following orders. From a moral stance, the viewer is poised to watch hopefully as one man steps forward to begin the search for truth and the fight for justice.

Maintaining status and power despite the human toll; Kubrick gives this subject a thorough and unflinching examination in PATHS OF GLORY and it would be a topic he would scrutinize more than once with fierce intensity. In SPARTACUS (1960) the cruelty of Roman might seeks to strangle human freedom. In DR. STRANGELOVE (1964), a deranged general (again the military) strives for purity of essence by driving mankind to the brink of doom. And perhaps most chillingly, in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), a nearly "human", all- controlling computer, evolves into a homicidal entity determined to preserve the integrity of a space mission by eliminating "human error".

The validity and impact of PATHS OF GLORY is underscored by its twenty year ban by the French government. The film is a seamless melding of technique (the dolly shots of Kirk Douglas in the trenches are remarkable for their power), storytelling (the script is highly charged but not hysterical), and beautifully nuanced performances (McCready and Menjou are utterly dynamic; Douglas gives his outrage a perfectly modulated naturalism).

Kubrick's emotional passion is unalloyed by his intellectual cool in this film. And that fact makes PATHS OF GLORY my favorite of all the director's work.

Recommended: Lewis Milestone's ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930).

Dec 15, 2014
  • Chaos1214 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"You know what Thomas Paine said about patriotism... It's the last refuge of a scoundrel." :|

Aug 14, 2014
  • garycornell rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Paths of Glory" is one of Director Stanley Kubrick's first major films. He was chosen by the producer and star of the film Kirk Douglas. (Kubrick and Kirk Douglas would make both of their next pictures together again in the film "Spartacus".) The futility of war is tightly drawn with scenes of our troops pinned down against superior enemy troops. Orders come to Kirk Douglas that trouble his conscience and he must weigh his options. The battle scenes are so real with our troop fighting on even against an enemy they cannot even see. So we never see them either. Kirk Douglas is almost in every frame of the movie and he is terrific. Five Stars for bringing such a great movie to the screen. This one will be watched for generations to come!
P.S: Kubrick would go on to make such famous anti war movies as "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" and Full Metal Jacket". On all the above movies Kubrick also was on the screenwriting team. A man of many talents that left us so many major films.

Jul 12, 2014
  • aaa5756 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the best films I have seen in this year. It was entertaining and interesting. Great performances a must see for all. Truly a really great movie worth the long library wait or the price to rent from a Red Box. Well worth the price of admission to any theater.

Jul 01, 2014
  • AQUILEA777 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Corrupt egotism in military command, where others' lives count for little in the quest for victory and promotion. French Army, 1916, but fits all wars. Tight, rapid script -- strong performances. Swift, compelling pace, unlike later Kubricks. Gritty, convincing B&W scenes of trenches and surge across No Man's Land. One of the very best films of its type.

Feb 16, 2014
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An incredibly bold film for its time -- I still can't believe Kubrick made this in '57... This one put him on the map (maybe because it was banned for years around the globe...) Kirk was great, but I still think his best film was "Lonely Are The Brave". Timothy Carey stole the show for me. The man was an enigma. FIVE STARS.

Jan 02, 2013
  • CheeseWiz rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

One of the best anti-war films. Kirk Douglas puts on a great performance. Definitely a powerful movie that you want to watch one time, and one time only. It doesn't have much replay value if you know what happens though.

War scenes followed by that petty deranged pathology masculinity has become. Now that's an 'anti-war' film! -- not "Saving Private Ryan". With Ralph Meeker, Kubrick had the first and only 'Film Noir' war film, too.

Jul 24, 2012
  • rhys33 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the best movies ever released. The genius of Stanley Kubrick shows through in this amazing 1957 film. The cinematography is fantastic.

Dec 12, 2011
  • avisualfeel rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the finest films I have ever seen! Probably one of Kirk Douglas's better films! Kubrick takes us into WWI trenches & the psychological fear & bravery felt by the maddening warfare is finely captured in this film. The scapegoats are like maze mice while hypocrite leaders decide their fate. Embarrassing truths in the annals of human history!


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Jul 12, 2014
  • aaa5756 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” –John F Kennedy

Jul 12, 2014
  • aaa5756 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither.”-Ben Franklin

Feb 16, 2014
  • Monolith rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Title taken from Thomas Gray's 'Elegy written in a country churchyard': "The paths of glory lead but to the grave".


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