FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ Posted November 11th, 2016
After watching “Wooden Crosses” ( directed by Raymond Bernard ~ see review HERE ) I had to see Howard Hawks’ take on the story: “THE ROAD TO GLORY” (1936). I knew it was going to be totally different: more Hollywoodized. Well it was, but it’s not bad. It’s better not to compare it with the 1932 masterful film and take it for what it is: a good drama.
There’s a romantic sub-plot that’s thrown in to the story and one of the main characters ~ Warner Baxter, who plays the tortured captain ~ is reunited with his father (Lionel Barrymore) who’s too old for War, but still wants to fight near his heroic son. Some portions of the story do not ring true and the situations are more overly dramatic and sentimental, but this does not mean that the film does not have its merits and entertainment value.
June Lang, who plays the love interest is very beautiful and has a contemporary look; I mean, not only does she not look like a lady from 1916 (when the picture is set), but not even a girl from 1936! She’s so slim and slender that she looks like a model from the 1990’s. Her hairstyle was made, I guess, to make her look more “French” & sophisticated, which is a little bit out of place since she’s supposed to be a small-town girl, not a Parisian. Also, to make her look more attractive, she wears a suit that does not look like a nurse’s outfit. On the other hand, she performs quite well, except in her first scene with Warner Baxter, where she plays a dramatic scene a bit artificially.
Warner Baxter and Fredric March (who plays a Lieutenant under Baxter’s orders) are very good in their roles and Lionel Barrymore and Gregory Ratoff ditto. What is a real shame is that all the action scenes and some scenes shot in the church were completely borrowed from the 1932 French film. And since I had just seen “Wooden Crosses” I noticed it very much.
All in all, a good dramatic film in Hollywood’s terms, but very different and inferior than the 1932 French original. As an anti-war film it pales in comparison to “Les Croix de Bois” ( “Wooden Crosses” ) and most certainly in comparison with “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
CineMaven’s Note: See Fernando’s reviews for these war classics:
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