TCM: Classic World War I Films

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“In observance of the centenary of World War I, which lasted from July 1914 to November 1918, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) devotes its popular Friday Night Spotlight franchise to films about this conflict. Primetime films in the Spotlight are hosted by retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, a veteran of 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense. A winner of the Silver Star for his service in Vietnam, Clark later commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief of the U.S. European Command.

“The movies in our Spotlight reflect views of the First World War as seen by filmmakers through the decades. King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925), released only seven years after the war’s end, takes an unflinching look at the horrors of war as experienced by an American soldier (John Gilbert). Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) makes a powerful anti-war statement in another story about the travails of a young soldier–this one a German (Lew Ayres). In Howard Hawks’ Sergeant York (1941), Gary Cooper plays Alvin York, a former pacifist from Tennessee who became the most decorated soldier of WWI.

“Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) tells the powerful story of a French colonel (Kirk Douglas) who goes against his better judgment in following orders to lead his men in a suicide mission against the Germans. David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) follows the colorful real-life exploits of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole), the flamboyant British officer who fought alongside Arabs in their revolt against the Turks during WWI. Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (1981) tells of two idealistic young friends (one of them played by Mel Gibson) who join the Australian Army during the war and fight in Turkey in the ill-fated Battle of Gallipoli.”

This Friday’s offering of 13 WWI films actually begins at 6:00 AM EST with Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, continuing all day until 4:45 AM Saturday with Kameradschaft. Evening selections include searing antiwar dramas such as Paths of Glory, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Big Parade, and Westfront 1918. Later Fridays in the month will include the rarely seen antiwar classics Oh, What a Lovely War!, King & Country, J’Accuse!, King of Hearts, and Grand Illusion. Many of these epic films are some of the most celebrated and acclaimed in the history of cinema.

7:21 pm on July 10, 2014