Starring Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, George Macready, Timothy Carey, Adolph Menjou, Wayne Morris

History of Cinema - Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957)


Stark. Infuriating. Powerful.

Colonel Dax: Gentlemen of the court, there are times that I’m ashamed to be a member of the human race and this is one such occasion.

When General Broulard (Menjou) asks General Mireau (Macready) to attack a well-fortified enemy base known as “the anthill,” the latter knows it’s a fool’s errand. It can’t be done, and yet, when the former suggests that the attack could lead to a hefty promotion, Mireau goes ahead with the mission, ordering his soldiers, led by Colonel Dax (Douglas) to push forward, despite the monsoon of bullets and apparent hopelessness, and take the anthill. When the mission fails, Mireau has to cover his own tracks and deflects blame by accusing his soldiers of cowardice. As a result, three men go on trial and face execution, with Colonel Dax doing his best to defend them against the stacked deck of military justice. Surprising for a Kubrick film, Paths of Glory is unsubtle, emotional, even sentimental at times. Kubrick, often thought of as an emotionless, almost-robotic genius, is constantly provoking our anger throughout this film. He does so expertly. Certainly a technical genius, he doesn’t get enough credit sometimes for the performances in his movies. Paths of Glory is still potent.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


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