Last week, the last of Classic Hollywood’s great leading men passed away. At 103, Kirk Douglas had a hell of a life, and one of the most impressive resumes of the era. We honor his memory this week by looking back to one of the defining performances of his career, and one of the finest War Films ever made. Roger Ebert once proclaimed that there has never been a War Film that didn’t glorify violence and conflict in some manner, other than Paths of Glory. The story about a World War I French battalion carelessly thrust into a massacre of a battle by generals who reside in a celestial castle, far removed from the gritty and terrible conflict they command, is as brilliant a condemnation of class and pointless brutality as ever was recorded. Split into two distinct segments, the bloody battle in the trenches and the ensuing court martial of three innocent soldiers as recompense for supposed cowardice, Kubrick’s masterpiece of moral indignation is as brilliant today as it was in 1957, centered around Douglas’ singular performance as a beacon of righteousness in a world of utter moral decay.
RIP Kirk Douglas. Dec. 9, 1916 – Feb. 5, 2020.