Film Society Selection
Second of two films showing this month
book a ticket for this and forthcoming BFS screenings please contact the SHP Box
Office on 01344 484123 or click the logo below to book via the SHP website.
Tickets £8.60, SHP members £7.00.
BFS members (BFS shows only) £6.60. You may have to show a BFS membership card. Concessions £7.60. SHP make an additional £0.70 charge when paying by credit card. Reserving a ticket by phone, expect to pay by cash at the box office 30 minutes prior to show time.
27th April 7.45pm
Director: Stanley Kubrick, US, 1957, 87 minutes
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
After refusing to attack an enemy position, a group of French soldiers face execution. Banned in France for some 18 years on account of its anti-militarist sentiments, this searing film continues to impress with its striking blend of formal brilliance, economical storytelling and emotional directness.
Kubrick's best film
published on Tuesday 19 October 2010, David Thomson
This is one of the darkest anti-war films ever made, in great part because its vision that of the young director Stanley Kubrick (he was only 29, making his third full-length picture) is as bleak as the story. The place is the western front of the first world war, in a section manned by the French army. An attack is decreed by General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou), and passed on to General Mireau (George Macready) to execute.Everyone knows the attack is doomed because infantry advancing over open ground torn apart by artillery barrages will be cut down by the machine guns in the secure German lines. But when the plan fails, Broulard determines that there must be scapegoats alleged cowards or malingerers who betrayed the national purpose. Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas), who led the attack, is charged with picking three victims who will be subject to court martial and firing squad.
The Humphrey Cobb novel on which it is based had been published in 1935. At that time, Sidney Howard made a play out of it, but the play flopped. Kubrick loved the book and he got a script out of Calder Willingham and Jim Thompson (the famous pulp novelist who wrote The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me). The project became viable when Kirk Douglas agreed to play Dax and to produce the film for his own company, Bryna Productions. The trench and attack scenes were all shot for just under $1m. The photography is in glittering black and white, but the pattern of tracking shots is Kubrick's design and he actually shot some of the attack scene himself with a hand-held camera.
the rest, there is a stark, sardonic contrast between the splendid
chateau where the officers live and the mean barracks for the enlisted
men. Douglas is angry but repressed this is one of his most
controlled performances. Menjou and Macready are properly odious.
The three scapegoats are Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel and Timothy Carey,
abject or defiant but not sentimentalised. If you expect any kind
of mercy or relief, then you are misjudging the misanthropic tone
of this movie. But the conclusion is a strange, touching gesture to
hope and the future, and it involves a young German actress
Susanne Christian who would become Kubrick's wife.