THE BIG PARADE (1925)

Dir. King Vidor

MGM production head Irving G. Thalberg and director King Vidor devised a new type of war story for this classic, showcased in a world premiere restoration at the TCM Classic Film Festival in a newly restored version from Warner Bros. in partnership with Photoplay Productions. THE BIG PARADE was the first realistic depiction of World War I action, and also eschewed movie-star heroics to focus on the love story between naïve GI John Gilbert and French peasant girl Renée Adorée. It preached a strong anti-war message, with some of the most terrifying battle scenes ever put on film. Studio head Louis B. Mayer tried to block the project, claiming it was still too soon after the war for such a film. He was also upset when production costs rose to $200,000. But preview audiences were so enthusiastic, Thalberg put it back into production, adding more battle scenes to expand the picture's scope. The result was not just MGM's most profitable film to date, but also the highest-grossing film of the silent era. It made Vidor one of Hollywood's top directors and Gilbert the studio's biggest star.

In attendance: Kevin Brownlow.

THE BIG PARADE
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