review for Paths of Glory on AllMovie

Paths of Glory (1957)
by Dan Jardine review

Paths of Glory is a remarkable anti-war film that retains its impact decades after its release. The story's horrifying, tragic inevitability combines with Stanley Kubrick's forthright documentary style to create a film of rare power, a stinging, pre-Vietnam indictment of the inflexibility of war-time decision-making. Kirk Douglas, who produced the film, seems an odd choice to play a French colonel in World War I, yet he fills the screen with his righteous indignation. Kubrick's indictment of a military elite out of touch with -- even openly antagonistic towards -- its own men is brilliantly vicious. Filmed in pristine black-and-white that mirrors the thematic emphasis on the battle between good (enlisted men) and evil (the officers), with Kubrick's keen eye toward detail, Paths of Glory is both an intellectual and a visual treat. The film touched many raw nerves, and it was banned in several European countries, with France the last to lift the ban in the late 1970s. The conclusion features the soon-to-be Mrs. Kubrick in a sentimental and melodramatic scene that has been criticized as out-of-step with the rest of the somber and gritty film.