"Take movies, music, poetry out of life & its gone!"

Paths of Glory (1957) - A distinctive, unusual war film that boldly dares to say it and would never be remade again. (Movies To See Before You Die - War Movies)

10 Jun, 2013 | Movies To See Before You Die / War Movies

Beginning with an eye-opener statement right away, there have been many important ‘War Movies’ made since the last century but there hasn’t been any thing similar to PATHS OF GLORY for sure since the controversial subject has not been touched by any other director so outrageously in world cinema till date. And that is the basic reason why I felt simply stunned to see this ‘Black & White’ classic made way back in 1957 with such conviction and perfection by the maverick director, Stanley Kubrick. Plus I was really taken back by the fact that Kubrick actually made this precious, thought provoking gem in a very early stage of his career, when he was not even 30 years old yet.
But before talking about the exclusive plot of the movie, let me share some more fascinating facts about its making and post release scenario, which would rightly make you realize the real value of this timeless classic from the maestros.
As stated in the trivia section of the film’s IMDB page, Stanley Kubrick approached Kirk Douglas (playing the lead) with the script and Douglas instantly fell in love with it saying,
"Stanley, I don't think this picture will ever make a nickel, but we have to make it."
His words were all true since the film was not a box office success when released but later in 1969, Kirk Douglas's again recalled the film saying,
“There's a picture that will always be good, years from now and I don't have to wait 50 years to know that; I know it now". 
After it was released all over, PATHS OF GLORY was banned in France for its negative portrayal of the French army. Also banned in Switzerland & Spain initially, it got released there after decades when the storm was all over. In Belgium the makers were asked to add a foreword before the start of the film, with the words that “The story represented an isolated case that did not reflect upon the "Gallantry of the French soldiers." And all these bans were actually imposed because the film’s upsetting plot revealed an ugly dark secret of the War front having quite clear shades of truth in it along with the added element of fiction.
Based on Humphrey Cobb’s novel of the same name, PATHS OF GLORY basically talks about the voice of a revolt raised by a Colonel against his Commanding General in an official court case. And the case is imposed by the authority itself because the 3 men on duty, refused to obey the orders of their commanding officer, an offence punishable by death.
Kirk Douglas plays Colonel Dax in the film, who gets the order to make an impossible kind of attack on a heavily equipped rival point. Now the basic reason behind this order was that the Commanding General ordering it (played by George Macready) had a big ego issue involved and further he also looked forward the attack as the means to move forward in his military career. When the order is not executed and the assault is not made due to a heavy bombardment from the other side, the General gets furious and decides to set an example of this for all others. He demands that the three revolting men should stand a trial for showing incompetence and cowardice on the battlefield, not obeying the orders of their superior. Colonel Dax denies accepting this injustice and defends these men at their court-martial, fighting the case himself.
Post the above development, the film turns into a worth watching conflicting saga wherein the Colonel raises a strong voice against this cruel injustice by the General, ignoring the value of life of his own soldiers. And then we get to see a splendid depiction of both logical and philosophical reasoning given by the Colonel in support of his 3 men. While fighting the case Kirk refuses to apologies on their behalf and reveals a completely contrasting description of a battle field pointing towards the unnecessary arrogance, ego and personal agenda’s brought into the front, on the cost of countless lives of the brave soldiers.
The film displays a fine balance between its extremely well shot war & trial room sequences and has a unique kind of tension running as an undercurrent throughout. Moreover with an highly inspiring climax it is unarguably one of the most realistic and truthful movies made on the First World War ever. Along with its perfect writing (especially the dialogues), great sound effects and very effective camera movements, it also has many fine polished acts lead by both Kirk Douglas and George Macready in the lead.
To put it together, this is surely something beyond all the other famous masterpieces made on the War front. In reality its neither about the war nor against the war in the most expected usual form. On the contrary it brings forward a totally secured and hidden secret about the questionable functioning at the battle fields which might change the whole way you look upon a war completely. So from that angle, PATHS OF GLORY strongly needs to be rated as one of the top five greatest war movies ever made with a difference. And that should give you enough reason to go for this “True Gem” at the earliest.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring : Kirk Douglas, George Macready, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou & more.

Tags : Paths of Glory (1957) Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Movies To See Before You Die War Movies, Must See Films List by Bobby Sing, Not To Be Missed Movies List by Bobby Sing, Stanley Kubrick Masterpieces, Kubrick Gems, Worth Watching War Movies list by Bobby Sing,
10 Jun 2013 / Comments ( 4 )

I watched the movie long ago, This movie is realy great and brave story plot, normal all war movies tells atrocities, heroic moments and all things that shows the tough moments on war.

But the potray of the incident is realy gr8, such kind of instance always happen in every kind of organisation and armed forces can not be remain untouched.

i quote it from IMDB page i forgot that "The soldiers are not angels, or particularly heroes, but they are good people in a strange, absurd situation doing the best that they can with what they know."

The colonel has done his best in defending those three men and he loose all hope and the song sung by the captive girl is all summary of theme of movie.

The bitterness is always there in the world but its you only who has to stay your heart pure.

Thanks for selecting the movie for review.


Bobby Sing

Hi Pradeep.
Thanks for appreciating the post here and I always wish to share more Forgotten Gems here at my site which are indeed a must watch for every movie lover living in any part of the world.

So Keep visiting and Keep writing in.



Thanks for your reply

I have recently watched "October Sky (1999)" and a Big Fish (2003). Both movie are really good to see.



Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot for your recommendations Pradeep.
I will soon try to catch them and get back here.


Leave A Comment
E-mail (will not be published)
Website (Optional)
Enter shown code