Don’t let the title deceive you. Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) snow no glories of war. Starring Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Timothy Carey, and Joe Turkel, this part anti-war film, part legal drama takes place in World War I where Colonel Dax (Douglas) must lead his men into what he knows will be a suicide charge. The charge fails, and Generals Broulard and Mireau (Menjou and Macready) randomly select three men from Dax’s command to a kangaroo court to stand trial for cowardice and to be made an example of.
Paths of Glory is perhaps the most humanistic film in what has often been described as a chilly career bereft of emotion on the part of Stanley Kubrick. And maybe for that reason I consider it my personal favorite of Kubrick’s films along with the stunning black-and-white cinematography, incredible visual effects, and commanding narrative.
Kubrick’s film would not be nominated for a single Academy Award, but was nominated for Best Film from any source at that year’s BAFTAs. in 1992, Paths of Glory was named to the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Film Registry.