Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
Plot: The futility and irony of the war in the trenches in WWI is shown as a unit commander in the French army must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack.
Winston Churchill said that the film was a highly accurate depiction of trench warfare and the sometimes misguided workings of the military mind.
Banned in Spain under Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship for its anti-military message. It wasn't released until 1986, 11 years after Franco's death.
Stanley Kubrick, widely known as a perfectionist, shot 68 takes of the doomed men's "last meal" scene. Because the details of the scene required that the actors appear to be engaged in the act of eating, a new roast duck had to be prepared for almost every take.
The title is a quotation from Thomas Gray's 'Elegy written in a country churchyard': "The paths of glory lead but to the grave".
Stanley Kubrick approached Kirk Douglas with the script. Douglas instantly fell in love with it, telling Kubrick, "Stanley, I don't think this picture will ever make a nickel, but we have to make it." Douglas' words proved to be prophetic-the film was not a success at the box office.
Director Stanley Kubrick met Christiane Kubrick (then Christiane Harlan) during filming; she performs the singing at the end of the film. He divorced his second wife the following year to marry her, and they remained married until his death in 1999.
Was banned in France for its negative portrayal of the French army. Switzerland also banned the film (until 1978), accusing it of being "subversive propaganda directed at France." Belgium required that a foreword be added stating that the story represented an isolated case that did not reflect upon the "gallantry of the French soldiers."
During filming Timothy Carey (Pvt. Maurice Ferol) was disruptive. He also faked his own kidnapping for personal publicity, causing Stanley Kubrick and producer James B. Harris to fire him. Because of this, they were unable to show the three condemned soldiers during the battle scene, and a double was used for the scene when the priest hears Ferol's confession.
The epic battle sequence was filmed in a 5,000-sq.-yd. pasture rented from a German farmer. After paying for the crops that would have been raised that season, the production team moved in with eight cranes and as many as 60 crew members working around the clock for three weeks to create trenches, shell holes and the rough, muddy terrain of a World War I battleground.
The film was shot near Munich, Germany, and most of the men playing French soldiers were actually off-duty officers from the Munich Police Department.
The song performed by Christiane Kubrick (née Christiane Harlan) at the end of the film is a German folk song titled "Der treue Hussar" ("The Faithful Hussar") and dates from 1825.
Charlton Heston turned down the role of Col. Dax in order to star in Touch of Evil (1958).
The German singer is the only female character in the film.
According to film historian Robert Osborne, this is the favorite war film of John McCain.
The final scene of war-weary French soldiers being moved by the singing of a German prisoner in her native tongue has an actual basis in history. On the Western Front during the winter of 1914, there was the Trêve de Noël or Christmas ceasefire. Several historical accounts recall French and German soldiers singing Christmas carols together across "no-man's" land from their respective trenches.