This 1930 film, No 54 on the AFI's Top 100 list, still holds up as a surprisingly forceful and honest antiwar drama. Indeed, the modern sensibility is almost as startling as the sometime stagy acting of Lew Ayres, which can be excused by the fact that, three years after the introduction of sound, actors were still applying stage techniques to talking pictures. Ayres plays a German college student during World War I, who is brainwashed into enlisting in the Army (along with the rest of his class) by a zealously inspirational college professor. Once in uniform and on... the front lines, however, he quickly discovers that the glory of the Fatherland is of little concern to a soldier dodging bullets and explosions, whose comrades are dying in his arms. As powerful in its way as Platoon almost 60 years later, All Quiet on the Western Front remains a classic tale of young soldiers' confrontations with the possibility of imminent and arbitrary death. Director Lewis Milestone shows a surprising range of techniques in this film from the formative years of moviemaking with sound. --Marshall Fine [show more]
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Lewis Milestone's epic screen adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's anti-war novel stars Lew Ayres as one of a group of German teenagers who enlist for World War I after hearing a stirring speech from their professor. They soon discover that war is less about noble ideas and sacrifice than it is about pain, humiliation, suffering and death. Winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1930.