Paths of Glory
Overview
 
Paths of Glory is a 1957 American anti-war film
Anti-war film
An anti-war film is a film that emphasizes the pain, horror, and human costs of armed conflict. While some films criticize armed conflicts in a general sense, others focus on acts within a specific war, such as the use of poison gas or the genocidal killing of civilians . Some anti-war films such...

 by Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

 based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb
Humphrey Cobb
Humphrey Cobb was a screenwriter and novelist. He is best known for writing the novel Paths of Glory, which was made into an acclaimed 1957 movie by Stanley Kubrick. Cobb was also the lead screenwriter on the 1937 movie San Quentin, starring Humphrey Bogart.Cobb was born in Siena, Italy...

. Set during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the film stars Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past , Champion , Ace in the Hole , The Bad and the Beautiful , Lust for Life , Paths of Glory , Gunfight at the O.K...

 as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 soldiers who refused to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.
Cobb's novel had no title when it was finished, so the publisher held a contest.
Quotations

If any soldiers in the world can take it, we'll take the Ant Hill.

Stick to the stories you've told me, and don't let the prosecutor shake you out of them. Now remember, you'll be soldiers in the presence of superior officers, so act like what you are - soldiers! - and brave ones at that...When you answer questions, look the judges in the eye, don't whine, plead, or make speeches. That's my job. Simple statements, short, but make them so they can be heard all over the room and try not to repeat yourselves. I'll do that for you when I sum up.

[to Broulard] What would your, er, newspapers and your politicians do with that?...you are in a difficult position. Too much has happened. Someone's got to be hurt. The only question is who. General Mireau's assault on the Ant Hill failed. His order to fire on his own troops was refused. But his attempt to murder three innocent men to protect his own reputation will be prevented by the General's staff.

It's out of the question, George. Absolutely out of the question. My division was cut to pieces. What's left of it is in no position to even hold the Ant Hill, let alone take it. I'm sorry, but that's the truth.

Nothing is beyond those men once their fighting spirit is aroused...We might just do it!

Hello there soldier, ready to kill more Germans?

Looking over your rifle, I see? Well, that's the way. It's a soldier's best friend. You be good to it and it will always be good to you.

Miserable cowards, they're not advancing...they're still in the trenches!

Encyclopedia
Paths of Glory is a 1957 American anti-war film
Anti-war film
An anti-war film is a film that emphasizes the pain, horror, and human costs of armed conflict. While some films criticize armed conflicts in a general sense, others focus on acts within a specific war, such as the use of poison gas or the genocidal killing of civilians . Some anti-war films such...

 by Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

 based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb
Humphrey Cobb
Humphrey Cobb was a screenwriter and novelist. He is best known for writing the novel Paths of Glory, which was made into an acclaimed 1957 movie by Stanley Kubrick. Cobb was also the lead screenwriter on the 1937 movie San Quentin, starring Humphrey Bogart.Cobb was born in Siena, Italy...

. Set during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the film stars Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past , Champion , Ace in the Hole , The Bad and the Beautiful , Lust for Life , Paths of Glory , Gunfight at the O.K...

 as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 soldiers who refused to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

Background

Cobb's novel had no title when it was finished, so the publisher held a contest. The winning entry came from the ninth stanza of the famous Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray was a poet, letter-writer, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University.-Early life and education:...

 poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is a poem by Thomas Gray, completed in 1750 and first published in 1751. The poem’s origins are unknown, but it was partly inspired by Gray’s thoughts following the death of the poet Richard West in 1742. Originally titled Stanza's Wrote in a Country...

".

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,

Awaits alike th'inevitable hour.

The paths of glory lead but to the grave."


The book was a minor success when published in 1935, retelling the true-life affair of four French soldiers who were executed to set an example to the rest of the troops. The novel was adapted to stage the same year by Sidney Howard
Sidney Howard
Sidney Coe Howard was an American playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1925 and a posthumous Academy Award in 1940 for the screenplay for Gone with the Wind.-Early life:...

, where it played on Broadway as Paths of Glory. The play was a flop because of its harsh anti-war scenes that alienated the audience; Howard was a WWI veteran and wanted to show the horrors of war. Nonetheless, convinced that the novel should be made into a film, Howard wrote, “It seems to me that our motion picture industry must feel something of a sacred obligation to make the picture.” Fulfilling Howard's "sacred obligation", Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

 decided to adapt it to the screen after he remembered reading the book when he was younger. Kubrick and his partners purchased the film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 rights from Cobb's widow for $10,000.

Paths of Glory is based loosely on the true story of four French soldiers
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, under General Géraud Réveilhac
Géraud Réveilhac
Géraud François Gustave Réveilhac was a French career officer, raised to the rank of Général de brigade on 21 December 1909, commanding officer of the 42nd Infantry Brigade; he was then Commandeur of the Légion d'honneur.-World War I:At the beginning of World War I, Réveilhac was commanding the...

, executed for mutiny
Mutiny
Mutiny is a conspiracy among members of a group of similarly situated individuals to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority to which they are subject...

 in Souain, France; their families sued, and while the executions were ruled unfair, two of the families received one franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

 each, while the others received nothing. The novel is about the French execution of innocent men to strengthen others' resolve to fight. The French Army did carry out military executions for cowardice, as did all the other major participants. However, a significant point in the film is the practice of selecting individuals at random and executing them as a punishment for the sins of the whole group. This is similar to the Roman practice of decimation
Decimation (Roman Army)
Decimation |ten]]") was a form of military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth".-Procedure:...

, which was rarely used by the French Army in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Plot

The film begins with a voiceover describing the trench warfare
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

 situation of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 up to 1916; immediately following this is a scene in which General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 George Broulard (Adolphe Menjou
Adolphe Menjou
Adolphe Jean Menjou was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies, appearing in such films as The Sheik, A Woman of Paris, Morocco, and A Star is Born...

) of the French General Staff asks his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready
George Macready
George Peabody Macready, Jr. , was an American stage, film, and television actor often cast in roles as polished villains.-Background:...

), to send his division on a suicidal mission
Suicide mission
The term suicide mission commonly refers to a task which is so dangerous for the people involved that they are not expected to survive. The term is sometimes extended to, but is not limited to, suicide attacks such as kamikaze and suicide bombings, where the people involved actively commit suicide...

 to take a well-defended German
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 position called the "Anthill". Mireau initially refuses the commission, citing the impossibility of success and the danger to his beloved soldiers, but when Broulard mentions a potential promotion, Mireau quickly convinces himself the attack will succeed.

Mireau proceeds to walk through the trenches, addressing his men. He asks several soldiers, "Ready to kill more Germans?" He throws one soldier out of the regiment for showing signs of shell shock
Shell Shock
Shell Shock, also known as 82nd Marines Attack was a 1964 film by B-movie director John Hayes. The film takes place in Italy during World War II, and tells the story of a sergeant with his group of soldiers....

, which Mireau denies exists, blaming the soldier's behavior on cowardice. Mireau leaves the detailed planning of the attack to the 701's Régiment Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past , Champion , Ace in the Hole , The Bad and the Beautiful , Lust for Life , Paths of Glory , Gunfight at the O.K...

), despite Dax's protests that the only result of the attack will be to weaken the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 with heavy losses for no benefit. Mireau does not relent.

During a scouting mission prior to the attack, a drunken lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 named Roget (Wayne Morris) sends one of his two men ahead as a scout. Overcome by fear while waiting for the scout's return, he lobs a grenade and retreats. The other soldier—Corporal Paris (Ralph Meeker
Ralph Meeker
Ralph Meeker was an American stage and film actor best-known for starring in the 1953 Broadway production of Picnic, and in the 1955 film noir cult classic Kiss Me Deadly.-Career:...

)—finds the body of the scout, killed by the grenade. Having safely returned, he confronts Roget, but Roget denies any wrongdoing, and falsifies his report.

The attack on the German position proceeds, beginning with a first wave of soldiers, and with Dax leading, but ends in disaster; none of the men reach the German trenches, and one-third of the soldiers (B Company) refuse to leave the trench because of heavy enemy fire. Mireau, enraged, orders his own artillery to open fire on them to force them onto the battlefield. The artillery commander refuses to fire on his own men without written confirmation of the orders. Meanwhile, Dax returns to the trenches, and tries to rally B Company to join the battle, but as he climbs out of the trench, the body of a retreating French soldier knocks him down; it becomes obvious that the attack has failed.

To deflect blame for the failure, Mireau decides to court martial 100 of the soldiers for cowardice. Broulard convinces him to reduce the number to three, one from each company. Corporal Paris is chosen because his commanding officer, Lt. Roget, wishes to keep him from testifying about his actions in the scouting mission. Private Ferol (Timothy Carey
Timothy Carey
Timothy Agoglia Carey was an American film and television actor....

), who is Jewish, is picked by his commanding officer because he is "social undesirable." The last man, Private Arnaud (Joe Turkel
Joe Turkel
Joe Turkel is an American character actor. He is credited in several films as Joseph Turkel.-Background:Turkel was born in Brooklyn, New York, and served in the U.S. Military during World War II. He currently lives in southern California, and has been involved in writing screenplays.-Career:His...

), is chosen randomly by lot
Sortition
In politics, sortition is the selection of decision makers by lottery. The decision-makers are chosen as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates....

, despite having been cited for bravery twice previously.

Dax, who was a criminal defense lawyer in civilian life, defends the men at their court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

. Unfortunately, the trial is a farce and can accurately be described as a "kangaroo court
Kangaroo court
A kangaroo court is "a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted".The outcome of a trial by kangaroo court is essentially determined in advance, usually for the purpose of ensuring conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or...

" i.e. the rights of the accused are repeatedly violated. For example, there is no specific and formal statement of the charges against them at the commencement of the trial, no verbatim stenographic record of the trial proceedings is being created, and compelling evidence which would support acquittal of the defendants is not permitted to be heard. In his closing statement, Dax challenges the court's authenticity, and requests mercy, saying, "Gentlemen of the court, to find these men guilty would be a crime to haunt each of you till the day you die." The three men are sentenced to death
Death Sentence
Death Sentence is a short story by the American science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the November 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov.-Plot summary:...

, nonetheless.

Later, Dax, aware of the reason Roget picked Paris to be executed, appoints Roget to have charge of the executions. Horrified, Roget protests, but Dax dismisses him curtly from his quarters.

Captain Rousseau (John Stein), the artillery commander who had earlier refused Mireau's order to fire on his own men, arrives to tell Dax about the order. Dax then informs Broulard of Mireau's treachery, providing sworn statements by witnesses, but is brusquely dismissed.

The next morning, the three condemned men are led out into a courtyard, among soldiers from all three companies and senior officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

. Arnaud, injured during a desperate outburst in prison, is carried out on a stretcher and tied to the execution post. A sobbing Ferol is blindfolded. Paris is offered a blindfold by Roget, but refuses. Roget meekly apologizes to Paris for what he has done, eliciting an ambiguous response. All three men are then shot and killed by the firing squad.

Following the execution, Broulard has breakfast with Mireau. Dax enters, invited by Broulard. Broulard then reveals that Mireau will be investigated for the order to fire on his own men. Mireau denies having made such an order and leaves angrily, declaring that he has been made a scapegoat. Broulard then offers Dax Mireau's command, claiming that Dax had been angling for the promotion all along. Dax responds angrily. Broulard ridicules Dax for being an idealist, saying he pities him as he would the village idiot
Village idiot
The village idiot in strict terms is a person locally known for ignorance or stupidity, but is also a common term for a stereotypically silly or nonsensical person. The term is also used as a stereotype of the mentally disabled...

; Broulard adds that he's done no wrong. Dax replies that he pities the general for his inability to see the wrongs he has done.

After the execution, some of Dax's soldiers are loudly enjoying an entertainer, when the performer brings a young German woman on stage and makes her sing the German folk song "The Faithful Hussar
The Faithful Hussar
The Faithful Hussar — in German, "Der treue Husar" – is a German folk song, presumed to be from 1825. It is prominently featured in the Stanley Kubrick film "Paths of Glory", where a female German prisoner, portrayed by Kubrick's later wife Christiane Kubrick, sings this song in front of French...

". The hardened troops begin by howling and whistling, but, touched by her song, they end up humming along, some openly weeping. Dax overhears this scene from outside. A sergeant appears with word that the regiment has been ordered to return to the front line trenches immediately, but Dax tells him to give the men a few minutes more. His face hardens as he returns to his quarters.

Cast

  • Kirk Douglas
    Kirk Douglas
    Kirk Douglas is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past , Champion , Ace in the Hole , The Bad and the Beautiful , Lust for Life , Paths of Glory , Gunfight at the O.K...

     as Col. Dax
  • Ralph Meeker
    Ralph Meeker
    Ralph Meeker was an American stage and film actor best-known for starring in the 1953 Broadway production of Picnic, and in the 1955 film noir cult classic Kiss Me Deadly.-Career:...

     as Cpl. Philippe Paris
  • Adolphe Menjou
    Adolphe Menjou
    Adolphe Jean Menjou was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies, appearing in such films as The Sheik, A Woman of Paris, Morocco, and A Star is Born...

     as Maj. Gen. George Broulard
  • George Macready
    George Macready
    George Peabody Macready, Jr. , was an American stage, film, and television actor often cast in roles as polished villains.-Background:...

     as Brig. Gen. Paul Mireau
  • Wayne Morris as Lt. Roget
  • Richard Anderson
    Richard Anderson
    Richard Norman Anderson is an American actor in film and television, known to TV audiences as Steve Austin's and Jaime Sommers' boss, Oscar Goldman, in both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman TV series and their three subsequent TV movies: The Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man...

     as Maj. Saint-Auban
  • Joe Turkel
    Joe Turkel
    Joe Turkel is an American character actor. He is credited in several films as Joseph Turkel.-Background:Turkel was born in Brooklyn, New York, and served in the U.S. Military during World War II. He currently lives in southern California, and has been involved in writing screenplays.-Career:His...

     as Pvt. Pierre Arnaud
  • Christiane Kubrick
    Christiane Kubrick
    Christiane Kubrick is a German actress, dancer, painter and singer. She was born into a theatrical family, and was the wife of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick from 1958 until his death in 1999.-Biography:...

     as German singer
  • Jerry Hausner as Proprietor of cafe
  • Peter Capell as Narrator of opening sequence and Judge of court-martial
  • Emile Meyer
    Emile Meyer
    Emile Meyer was an American actor usually known for tough, aggressive, authoritative characters in Hollywood films from the 1950s era, mostly in westerns or thrillers...

     as Father Dupree
  • Bert Freed
    Bert Freed
    Bert Freed was a prolific American character actor, voice over actor, and the first actor to portray "Detective Columbo" on television.-Life and career:...

     as Sgt. Boulanger
  • Kem Dibbs as Pvt. Lejeune
  • Timothy Carey
    Timothy Carey
    Timothy Agoglia Carey was an American film and television actor....

     as Pvt. Maurice Ferol
  • Fred Bell as Shell-shock victim
  • John Stein as Capt. Rousseau (Battery Commander)
  • Harold Benedict as Capt. Nichols (Artillery spotter)

Development

Although Kubrick's previous film The Killing had failed at the box office, it had managed to land on several critical Top-Ten lists for the year. Dore Schary
Dore Schary
Isadore "Dore" Schary was an American motion picture director, writer, and producer, and playwright who became head of production at MGM and eventually president of the studio...

, then head of production at MGM, liked the film and hired Kubrick and Harris to develop film stories from MGM's slush pile of scripts and purchased novels. Finding nothing they liked, Kubrick remembered reading Cobb's book years before and suggested it as their next project. Schary strongly doubted the commercial success of the story, which had already been turned down by every other major studio.

After Schary was fired by MGM in a major shake-up, Kubrick and Harris managed to interest Kirk Douglas in a script version that Kubrick had done with Calder Willingham. United Artists agreed to back it with Douglas as the star.

Filming

Production took place entirely in Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, especially at the Schleissheim Palace
Schleissheim Palace
The Schleissheim Palace actually comprises three palaces in a grand baroque park in the village of Oberschleißheim near Munich, Bavaria, Germany. The palace was the summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria.-Old Schleissheim Palace:...

 near Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

. Timothy Carey
Timothy Carey
Timothy Agoglia Carey was an American film and television actor....

 was fired during production. He was replaced in the scenes remaining to be shot with a double. The film cost slightly less than $1 million and just about broke even.

An early critical test of Kubrick's obsession with control on the set came during the making of Paths of Glory. As recalled by Kirk Douglas:

The only female character in the film, the woman who sings "The Faithful Hussar
The Faithful Hussar
The Faithful Hussar — in German, "Der treue Husar" – is a German folk song, presumed to be from 1825. It is prominently featured in the Stanley Kubrick film "Paths of Glory", where a female German prisoner, portrayed by Kubrick's later wife Christiane Kubrick, sings this song in front of French...

", was portrayed by German actress Christiane Harlan
Christiane Kubrick
Christiane Kubrick is a German actress, dancer, painter and singer. She was born into a theatrical family, and was the wife of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick from 1958 until his death in 1999.-Biography:...

 (credited in the film as Susanne Christian). She later married director Stanley Kubrick, and the couple remained married until his death in 1999.

Reception

The film was released in January 1958 and premiered in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 and Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. The film was considered a modest box office success, though it did earn Kubrick much critical acclaim.

The release of the film and its showing in parts of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 were controversial. Active and retired military personnel, offended by the way the French military was portrayed in the film, vehemently criticized it after its showing in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 (although the film was otherwise well received). Contrary to a persistent urban legend, the film was not banned in France; however, the French government placed enormous pressure on United Artists
United Artists
United Artists Corporation is an American film studio. The original studio of that name was founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks....

, the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an distributor for the film, through diplomatic
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 channels, to refrain from releasing the film. As a result, the film was not submitted to French censors, and was not shown in France until 1975, when moral codes had changed. In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the film was not allowed to be shown for two years after its release to avoid any strain in relations with France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The film was also officially censored in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 by the government of Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 for its anti-military content, and was not released in that country until 1986, 11 years after Franco's death.

The film was nominated for a BAFTA Award under the category Best Film
BAFTA Award for Best Film
This page lists the winners and nominees for the BAFTA Award for Best Film, BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language and Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film for each year, in addition to the retired earlier versions of those awards...

 but lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British World War II film by David Lean based on The Bridge over the River Kwai by French writer Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William...

. The film also won a Jussi Awards' Diploma of merit. In 1959 the film was nominated for a Writers' Guild of America Award but ultimately lost.

On the Criterion Collection Blu-ray, producer James B. Harris states that the original script contained an alternate "happy ending". However, in order to preserve the integrity of the film, the ending was changed. Harris got this past distributors by sending the entire script, instead of merely sending the new ending, knowing that they would be too busy to read the entire script again. Once the distributors from United Artists viewed the film, they were very enthusiastic, and left the film as it is.

During the production and release of the movie, Douglas experienced significant negative publicity and financial loss for his role in the making of such a film. Nevertheless, he persisted in his efforts and the film was made and released.

The film holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

, based on 39 reviews. Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

critic Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 added this film to his "Great Movies" list on February 25, 2005. Gene Siskel, on a section of Siskel And Ebert's At The Movies show regarding Stanley Kubrick films, declared Paths Of Glory to be one of the all-time great films and "almost" as good as Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (which was his favorite movie).

Legacy

The 1989 BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth
Blackadder Goes Forth
Blackadder Goes Forth is the fourth and final series of the BBC situation comedy Blackadder, written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, which aired from 28 September to 2 November 1989 on BBC One....

episode "Corporal Punishment
Corporal Punishment (Blackadder)
"Corporal Punishment" is the second episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, the fourth series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder.-Summary:Orders for Operation Insanity arrive and Blackadder breaches regulations by eating the messenger...

" satirizes some of the trial sequences of this film.

The 1991 Tales from the Crypt
Tales from the Crypt (TV series)
Tales from the Crypt, sometimes titled HBO's Tales from the Crypt, is an American horror anthology television series that ran from 1989 to 1996 on the premium cable channel HBO...

episode "Yellow" echoes the film's themes. The episode stars Kirk Douglas, Eric Douglas, Dan Aykroyd
Dan Aykroyd
Daniel Edward "Dan" Aykroyd, CM is a Canadian comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, winemaker and ufologist. He was an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, an originator of The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters and has had a long career as a film actor and screenwriter.-Early...

 and Lance Henriksen
Lance Henriksen
Lance James Henriksen is an American actor and artist best known to film and television audiences for his roles in science fiction, action, and horror films such as the Alien film franchise, and on television shows such as Millennium....

. Kirk Douglas plays an American Expeditionary Force
American Expeditionary Force
The American Expeditionary Forces or AEF were the United States Armed Forces sent to Europe in World War I. During the United States campaigns in World War I the AEF fought in France alongside British and French allied forces in the last year of the war, against Imperial German forces...

 general whose son (Eric Douglas), is court-martialed for cowardice after a scouting mission in the trenches. Aykroyd plays a Colonel Dax-type role, and Henriksen is the mortally wounded soldier who testifies against the son.

"Paths of Glory" is the name of the tenth track on Faith No More
Faith No More
Faith No More is an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed originally as Faith No Man in 1981 by bassist Billy Gould, keyboardist Wade Worthington, vocalist Michael Morris and drummer Mike Bordin. A year later when Worthington was replaced by keyboardist Roddy Bottum, and Mike...

's 1997 Album of the Year. Faith No More's Mike Patton
Mike Patton
Michael Allan "Mike" Patton is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and actor, best known as the lead singer of the metal/experimental rock band Faith No More. He has also sung for Mr...

 is a fan of Stanley Kubrick and a few of the band's songs and videos include Kubrick-inspired motifs.

Paths of Glory
Paths of Glory (board game)
Paths of Glory: The First World War, 1914-1918 is a strategy board wargame, designed in 1999 by the six-time Charles S. Roberts Awards winner Ted Raicer and published by GMT Games. It covers World War I from its outbreak to the 1918 Armistice, or based on the progress of the game a hypothetical...

 is the name of a card-driven strategy
Strategy
Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked...

 game covering the First World War in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, developed by game designer Ted Raicer and published by GMT Games
GMT Games
GMT Games, probably the most prolific of the wargame companies in the 1990s and 2000s, was founded in 1990. The current management and creative team includes Tony Curtis, Rodger MacGowan, Mark Simonitch, and Andy Lewis...

 in 1999.

David Simon
David Simon
David Simon is an American author, journalist, and a writer/producer of television series. He worked for the Baltimore Sun City Desk for twelve years. He wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and co-wrote The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood with Ed Burns...

, creator of critically acclaimed series The Wire
The WIRE
the WIRE is the student-run College radio station at the University of Oklahoma, broadcasting in a freeform format. The WIRE serves the University of Oklahoma and surrounding communities, and is staffed by student DJs. The WIRE broadcasts at 1710 kHz AM in Norman, Oklahoma...

(2002-08), has said that Paths Of Glory was a key influence on the HBO crime drama. The influence of the film comes in its depiction of the tribulations of "middle management," in the form of Dax's unsuccessful attempt to protect his troops against the inhumane ambitions of his superiors, which in turn influenced The Wires depiction of various institutions acting against individuals.

Preservation and restoration

In 1992, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

. In October and November 2004 the film was shown at the London Film Festival
London Film Festival
The BFI London Film Festival is the UK's largest public film event, screening more than 300 features, documentaries and shorts from almost 50 countries. The festival, , currently in its 54th year, is run every year in the second half of October under the umbrella of the British Film Institute...

 by the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to:-Cinemas:The BFI runs the BFI Southbank and IMAX theatre, both located on the south bank of the River Thames in London...

. It was carefully remastered over a period of several years; the original film elements were found to be damaged. However, with the aid of several modern digital studios in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 the film was completely restored and remastered for modern cinema. In addition, Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

's widow Christiane (who also appears in the closing scene as the German singer) made a guest appearance at the start of the performance.

See also

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
    All Quiet on the Western Front
    All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.The...

    , a 1929 novel and film with antiwar themes.
  • Breaker Morant
    Breaker Morant (film)
    Breaker Morant is a 1980 Australian film about the court martial of Breaker Morant, directed by Bruce Beresford and starring British actor Edward Woodward as Harry "Breaker" Morant...

  • The Execution of Private Slovik
    The Execution of Private Slovik
    The Execution of Private Slovik is a nonfiction book by William Bradford Huie, published in 1954, and an American made-for-television movie that aired on NBC on March 13, 1974. The film was written for the screen by...

  • French Army Mutinies (1917)
    French Army Mutinies (1917)
    The French Army Mutinies of 1917 took place amongst the French troops on the Western Front in Northern France. They started just after the conclusion of the disastrous Second Battle of the Aisne, the main action in the Nivelle Offensive, and involved, to various degrees, nearly half of the French...

  • Hedd Wyn
    Hedd Wyn (film)
    Hedd Wyn is a 1992 Welsh anti-war biopic, written by Alan Llwyd and directed by Paul Turner.Based on the life of Ellis Humphrey Evans , killed in the First World War, the cinematography starkly contrasts the lyrical beauty of the poet's native Meirionnydd with the bombed-out horrors of Passchendaele...

    , a Welsh language
    Welsh language
    Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

     biopic with similarly anti-war themes.
  • Trial film
  • A Very Long Engagement
    A Very Long Engagement
    A Very Long Engagement is a 2004 French romantic war film, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou. It is a fictional tale about a young woman's desperate search for her fiancé who might have been killed on the battle of the Somme, during World War I...


External links

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