Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seasonal cheer?

In what seems to be a holiday tradition, the TeeWee was showing the Hallmark Production of that feel-good family classic, All Quiet on the Western Front, in which Corporal McHale shows Private John Boy the ropes in the middle of the epic three-way struggle between armies of German soldaten, French poilus, and corpse-eating rats. Then everybody winds up face-down dead in the mud. Bring the kids! (Although I will note that back when it was released, I was in the 4th grade, and Scholastic News, or whatever that propaganda they give to kids was called, contained a viewer's guide and synopsis. Myself, I just thought it was pretty neat that our teachers encouraged us to watch a war movie.)

The production values are very good, and it's a nice period piece. (Although for some reason the fact that the Jerry infantry Gewehr 98's were postwar Wiemar refurbs with tangent rear sights instead of the correct lange vizier "rollercoaster" rear sights bugged me inordinately on this viewing. If you are a normal person, this would probably not impact your viewing pleasure in the slightest.)


Rob Reed said...

I remember that Scholastic viewer guide as well!

All Quiet on the Western Front is one of my favorite books and I always thought the "John Boy" movie version was seriously underated. It's not as well regarded as the 1930 classic, but it has its own strengths.

Ed Foster said...

I do think the original Lew Ayres version was better. The trenches were authentic for one, pretty much all the extras had "been there", and some of them were obviously uncomfortable about being there again.

Kind of like watching Siege of Firebase Gloria for somebody who spent time in south east asia a few decades back. A pity nobody has had the balls to do an honest movie rendering of Fields of Fire.

Webb has turned into an asshole since, but had it all together then. I had to give the book away for fear of reading it again.

Wolfwood said...

I'll bet you HATED Patton, then.

Tam said...


I've seen it enough that I'm more or less desensitized to it now. ;)

Anonymous said...

Credit where it's due...McHale taught me to put a good sharp edge on all three sides of my surplus Swiss entrenching tool.

Carl H

Anonymous said...


DaddyBear said...

Funny thing is we watched the John Boy version in History class and the 1930's classic in English class. IIRC, we watched them both within a month of another, just prior to Christmas. One way or another, we were gonna feel pretty hopeless for Yuletide.

Firehand said...

What was that movie(Blue Max or something?) where the WWI Fritz infantry were carrying #4MkI Enfields with the SA blade bayonets?

Ed Foster said...


The Blue Max was filmed in my mother's home town of Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland, because it didn't have any 20th century "improvement" noticeable from the air.

The people flying all those bi- and triplanes were the Irish Airforce, and the Fritz infantry were local reservists from the First Infantry Battalion of the Irish Army, several of whom were cousins of mine.

Folks in that part of the country who are in possession of Mausers don't tend to advertise them, as they're usually family heirlooms from a certain time not usually discussed in public, and the losing side primarily carried Mausers and Maxims.

It wasn't all that many decades ago that possession of 8mm Mauser ammo was a crime.

Drang said...

Wait... You were in what grade?!

I watched that movie--proof that a remake, and a made-for-TV remake, at that, are not necessarily Bad Things--in the dorm in my junior year of college.

I don't recall that we objected to the wrong model of '98, but were impressed by the correct helmets in the correct years.

Anonymous said...

Try the movie at Shiloh National Military Park. The Yanks and Rebs are carrying 1917 Enfields. Only the cannon are period. Better see it soon as they are shooting a new one for the anniversary.

Stretch said...

Made for TV movies range from horrid to absolutely terrific.
Western Front rates terrific. Haven't seen it since it first aired but still remember the scene of Borgnine carrying the wounded private out of No-Man's-Land.
The other Small Screen depiction of WWI that makes the terrific list is the Indiana Jones series. Even the horses wear gas masks.
The other TV Movie that makes my Wish-It-Were-On-DVD list is To Build A Fire. Mid-70s and maybe 5 lines of dialog. Like Western Front required viewing by teacher.
There are so many WWI and WWII bring backs in Dad's home county of Somerset, PA that the local gun stores carry three different 8mm hunting loads.