Paths of Glory

I returned from work and took a nap.  I watched the Stanley Kubrick film “Paths of Glory” on Blu-ray.  The tracking shot showing Kirk Douglas walking in the trench was impressive and made me think of Martin Scorsese, along with “The Shining.”  This movie makes me think of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Grand Illusion,” and “Breaker Morant.”  A substantial part of the film’s budget went to pay Kirk Douglas, but I would say that he was worth it.  He gives one of his great performances as Colonel Dax.  The one flaw is that he didn’t convince me that he was French.  One of the bad guys was Richard Anderson, the actor we would later see in “The Six Million Dollar Man.”  I had forgotten that Jim Thompson was one of the writers of the screenplay.  Francois Truffaut’s last film made a reference to “Paths of Glory,” and I suspected it was because Kubrick’s film showed the generals to be inept, rather like what we would see again in “Dr. Strangelove.  The Germans are pretty much invisible, making it seem that the enemy in this story was really something or someone else, and open to interpretation.  As I watched Kirk Douglas, I tried to think of another person who has appeared in a film by Stanley Kubrick and a film by Billy Wilder and is still alive.  I couldn’t come up with a single name.  Kirk Douglas was in “Ace in the Hole,” of course.  Even though I’ve seen far too many movie scenes of trials and hearings and meetings, the court martial scene in this movie is quite good.  The ritual and procedure made me think of scenes that were in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “A Clockwork Orange.”  Three soldiers end up being the scapegoats for a failed battle.  Unfairness is a theme here, so I can see why this film didn’t make any money.  It leaves the audience unhappy and frustrated.  Watching the condemned men made me think of “In Cold Blood” and “The Execution of Private Slovik.”  I would think that the firing squad would be unnerved and miss their target.  I tried to imagine what would happen to these characters.  I imagine that the officer who showed cowardly behavior would have been killed somewhere down the line.  Somehow, a bullet or a bomb was going to find him.  Dax could have died on the battlefield, but I thought he was going to survive the war so that he could tell the tale.  It was the last scene that made me think of “Grand Illusion.”  The only female character in the movie is a young German woman who is forced to sing a song as entertainment for the troops. The woman in real life would become the wife of Stanley Kubrick.  I thought this was a more powerful war movie than “Full Metal Jacket.”  I didn’t entirely like any of the Kubrick movies from “Barry Lyndon” through “Eyes Wide Shut.”  I can imagine some of the scenes in “Paths of Glory” being difficult to film, and I guess Kubrick’s perfectionist tendencies made it difficult for Kirk Douglas to get through this movie.  “Paths of Glory,” though, is a real classic and is worth watching many times.  I haven’t gotten sick of it yet after all these years.  The Star Trek episode that Me TV aired was “I, Mudd.”  Captain Kirk was rather cruel in his punishment of Mudd.  Some of the people who died on June 5 include Stephen Crane (1900), O. Henry (1910), Vito Scotti (1996), Dee Dee Ramone (2002), Ronald Reagan (2004), and Ray Bradbury (2012).  Today is a birthday for Markky Mark (45), Rick Riordan (52), and Jeff Garlin (54).

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