Best Movies by Farr
Paths of Glory Poster
Released Runtime Category
1957 86 The Criterion Collection, War
Director Language
Stanley Kubrick English
Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Meeker, George Macready

Paths of Glory

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What's it About

During the brutal days of the First World War, aloof French General Broulard (Menjou) orders his deputy, General Mireau (Macready) to have his men mount a virtual suicide mission to take a well-defended German position. Even if casualties are high, the French may gain a few feet of ground, and Mireau might get a promotion. When the soldiers ultimately retreat in the attack, Broulard orders that three be selected at random to face charges of cowardice, for which the sentence is death. Guilt-ridden and seething with injustice, Colonel Dax (Douglas), the soldiers’ commander, defends the group in the court martial proceedings. As the trial begins, the deck is already stacked against them. How can justice prevail out of injustice?

Why we love it

Few films expose the insanity of war more starkly than “Paths,” as we contrast the behavior of cosseted armchair generals with the horrific plight of common infantry soldiers: pawns in an obscene political game, to be sacrificed on the front lines of a pointless war. We share Douglas's righteous fury at the plight of his men as the rushed sham of a trial progresses. Kirk is fabulous as the tortured Dax, and both Menjou and Macready also shine in unsympathetic roles. A small, potent masterpiece from director Kubrick, this disturbing anti-war film hasn't aged a bit.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"