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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
At the end of the world war, several German soldiers return home to their city to find the social fabric and civil order disintegrating as communist gangs roam the streets and food and jobs become scarce. Riots and massacres lead the erstwhile average men to become cynical and desperate.Written by
This anti-war film follows the lives of some German soldiers who find difficulty adjusting to life after the horrors of the front-line in World War I.
This film is often considered a spiritual follow up of sorts to the movie considered the first classic of the talkie era, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Like that one, this one is unusual in that it follows the 'enemy' side, the Germans. I think, though, this decision was more expedient than outreaching in the cases of both films in that by doing so it allowed the screenwriters to criticise the authorities more, as it was the German rulers who were the recipients of the anti-war sentiments. Still, it must also have humanised the German enemy for many viewers and this is obviously no bad thing. It is also notable for being directed by James Whale, who was one of the directorial masters of his day, in particular for his classic horror movies for Universal. So, this studio used him to helm this film but they found themselves with a very controversial movie, one which was bluntly critical of the then new Nazi regime in Germany. As a consequence, the Nazis demanded changes to the movie, which if not met would result in all Universal films being banned from that nation. With this huge threat to its European distribution prospects, the studio buckled and the film was partially re-shot and re-edited. It lost much of its power in the process. The remaining film has some interesting things about it but it pales significantly when compared to All Quiet on the Western Front and its overall dynamics are not especially strong or compelling enough to make this no more than an interesting footnote in movie history.
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