“All Quiet on the Western Front” is justly known as the most wrenching anti-war novel ever written.
Author Erich Maria Remarque conveyed the hideous destruction of humanity with almost documentary precision, and the 1930 movie version all too convincingly presents his depiction of the horror and waste of World War I.
Hi, everybody. Your classic movie guys, Joe Morella and Frank Segers — along with our Books 2 Movies maven Larry Michie — on hand today to continue our discussion of perhaps the greatest war film ever made, and to assess how well the novel was translated to the screen.
First a small tangent. A while ago, Joe and Frank nominated director Lewis Milestone’s fine 1945 movie, “A Walk In The Sun,” a World War II drama about an American infantry mission in Italy, as perhaps the best combat film ever. If it’s not the best, it is certainly up there.
Well, 15 years before he directed that picture, Milestone (born Lev Milstein in 1895 in Eastern Europe) won an Oscar for his handling of today’s subject movie released by Universal Pictures to great acclaim.
The New York Times video/film writer Dave Kehr wrote two years ago that while “All Quiet on the Western Front” is an epic adaptation of a powerful novel, “‘A Walk in the Sun‘ is smaller in scale and less insistent on its universal humanism…it’s less bombastic.” OK, Joe and I can buy that.
But as he writes here, Larry has a different view.
After plowing through the stirring Remarque novel and seeing the film version, Larry flatly concludes: the movie is equal to the novel, even though the film was made in the U.S., rather than in the war locations of Germany and France.
(Joe and Frank add that so authentic is the feel of the picture that the New York Times critic, Mordaunt Hall, who attended the film’s 1930 premier declared: “One is just as gripped by witnessing the picture as one was by reading the printed pages, and in most instances it seems as though the very impressions written in ink by Herr Remarque had become animated onscreen.”)
Larry continues his BOOKS 2 MOVIES assessment with this READER ALERT — Skip the 1979 Hallmark Hall of Fame tv series version of “All Quiet…” directed by Delbert Mann that features Ernest Borgnine and “John-Boy Walton” (aka actor Richard Thomas). Also, the internet tells us another version of the movie is planned, although Larry hasn’t found any evidence of it yet.
The classic 1930 movie boasted of writing credits by Erich Maria Remarque himself, along with playwright Maxwell Anderson (along with fellow playwright George Abbott). A magnificent performance was turned in by Lew Ayers and his supporting cast. The two Oscars the movie won were well deserved indeed.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Be sure to tune in on Monday when we take a look at the life and career of Remarque’s famous second wife, actress Paulette Goddard. The photos alone are worth a look-see.