Saturday, May 12, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front


All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal Cinema Classics)

#54 on the 1998 AFI List of the Best 100 American Movies

All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy and Ben Alexander.

All Quiet on the Western Front is considered a realistic and harrowing account of warfare in World War I, and was named #54 on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies. However, it fell out of the top 100 in the AFI's 2007 revision. In June 2008, after polling over 1,500 workers in the creative community, AFI announced its 10 Top 10—the ten best films in each of ten "classic" American film genres; All Quiet on the Western Front was ranked the seventh best film in the epic genre. In 1990, the film was selected and preserved by the United States Library of Congress' National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director.

* Richard Alexander as Westhus
* Ben Alexander as Franz Kemmerich
* Lew Ayres as Paul Bäumer
* William Bakewell as Albert Kropp
* Edmund Breese as Herr Meyer
* G. Pat Collins as Lieutenant Bertinck
* Owen Davis, Jr. as Peter
* Russell Gleason as Müller
* Harold Goodwin as Detering
* Scott Kolk as Leer
* Arnold Lucy as Professor Kantorek
* Beryl Mercer as Mrs. Bäumer, Paul's mother
* Walter E. Rogers as Behn
* Slim Summerville as Tjaden
* Louis Wolheim as Stanislaus Katczinsky
* John Wray as Himmelstoss
* Arthur Gardner as classroom student

In the film, Paul is shot while trying to draw a butterfly just outside his trench. The scene was shot during the editing phase, so the actors were no longer available and Milestone had to use his own hand as Paul's.

Noted comedienne Zasu Pitts was originally cast as Paul's mother and completed the film but preview audiences, used to seeing her in comic roles, laughed when she appeared onscreen so Milestone re-shot her scenes with Beryl Mercer before the film was released. The preview audience remains the only one who saw Pitts in the role, although she does appear for about 30 seconds in the film's original preview trailer.

The film was shot with two cameras side by side, with one negative edited as a sound film and the other edited as a silent film for international distribution.

A great number of German Army veterans were living in Los Angeles at the time of filming and were recruited as bit players and technical advisers. Around 2,000 extras were utilized during production. Among them was future director Fred Zinnemann, who was fired for impudence.

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