The Road Back (1937)

Genres - Crime, Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A handful of German soldiers readjust to civilian life in the bitter wake of World War I in this follow-up to the classic All Quiet On The Western Front, which like the first film was based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque. After the signing of the armistice, Capt. Von Hagen (John Emery) dismisses what is left of his troops, who march home to an uncertain future. Tjaden (Slim Summerville) finds himself helping to fend off rioters demanding food from a shop owned by the town's mayor (Etienne Girardot); the grateful mayor in turn offers Tjaden his daughter's hand in marriage. Weil (Larry Blake) becomes a political activist and finds himself acting as a spokesman for another group of citizens demanding precious food; this time, Weil is shot by troops led by his former commander, Capt. Von Hagen. Willy (Andy Devine) visits his former schoolteacher, who presents him with an ironic gift -- a toy gun he took away from Willy when he was a boy. And Albert (Maurice Murphy) comes home to discover his fiancée has wed another man, a man who avoided the war but found ways to profit from it at home. In a fit of rage, Albert kills the man, and finds himself on trial for his life. Combining a strong anti-war message with prescient warnings about the dangers of the rising Nazi regime, The Road Back was intended to be a powerful and controversial picture, and Universal entrusted it to their finest director, James Whale. However, by the time shooting was completed, new management had taken over the studio, and Nazi officials began applying pressure to Universal (as well as members of the film's cast) to delete the material critical of the Nazis, threatening to scuttle European distribution of future Universal product if their demands were not met. Universal bowed to their wishes, and the film was partially reshot with another director, and the remainder extensively re-edited, leaving the final product a pale shadow of what Whale had originally intended.

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Keywords

fiancee, German [nationality], patriotism, teacher, veteran [military]