MGM’s largest and most famous production at the time, and one of the highest grossing silent films, King Vidor’s epic follows Jim (John Gilbert, in perhaps his most famous role), a rich, spoiled young man threatened with expulsion from the family home if he fails to enlist for the army on the eve of WWI. Spurred on by his patriotic friends, instead, Jim heads to Europe where he quickly falls in love with a beautiful farm girl, Melisande (Renée Adorée). Love is fleeting, however, as Jim is whisked away to the front and stands face-to-face with his own mortality. Vidor subtly transitions from the ecstasy of love to the barbarity of battle in this exquisitely rendered vision of life’s cruel polarities.
Appears in: World War I on Film
Other Films by King Vidor
After an extremely successful 18-year run at Warner Bros., Davis’s work for the studio ended on a bitter note with the teetering-on-campy trash masterpiece Beyond the Forest. Even more than most Davis films, Vidor’s creation is a one-woman show, in which she plays the tragic Rosa Moline, a small-town “forgotten woman” and doctor’s (a near-invisible …