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Sunday, August 7, 2022
One of Vidor’s most celebrated works, The Big Parade provided a model for innumerable war movies that followed. John Gilbert stars as Jim, a layabout heir who enlists after being swept up in the patriotic frenzy of 1917. The film follows him and two army pals, a hard-nosed bartender and a lanky riveter, during their time in France, as a romance kindles between Jim and a young woman from the village where they’re stationed. “War,” Vidor later remarked, “had not been explored yet from the realistic GI viewpoint,” and indeed many veterans praised the film for its veracity. A grunt’s epic, The Big Parade captured both the chaos of combat—its battle sequences, with their meticulously organized montage, have lost none of their horrifying power—as well as its human face.