A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. Together with several other young German soldiers, he experiences the horrors of war, such evil of which he had not conceived of when signing up to fight. They eventually become sad, tormented, and confused of their purpose.
Silent film master D.W. Griffith’s first talkie works as a companion piece to his classic BIRTH OF A NATION, providing a detailed biographical sketch of the 16th president. We see his birth in a log cabin, the tragic death of his first love, Ann Rutledge (Una Merkel), his debates with Douglas, his accepting of the presidency, the terrible toll of the Civil War, and finally the tragic assassination at Ford’s Theater. Griffith shows his usual meticulous attention to period detail, and the framing of the various vignettes has the feel of historical photographs come to life. Walter Huston is excellent in the title role, with a portrayal that subtly evolves from laconic, wizened rascal to noble elder statesman. This is a fascinating, worthy film, and an interesting historical document in and of itself.
The Foreign Legion marches in to Mogador with booze and women in mind just as singer Amy Jolly arrives from Paris to work at Lo Tinto’s cabaret. That night, insouciant legionnaire Tom Brown catches her inimitably seductive, tuxedo-clad act. Both bruised by their past lives, the two edge cautiously into a no-strings relationship while being pursued by others. But Tom must leave on a perilous mission: is it too late for them?
Old sailor Chris Christofferson eagerly awaits the arrival of his grown daughter Anna, whom he sent at five years old to live with relatives in Minnesota. He has not seen her since, but believes her to be a decent and respectably employed young woman. When Anna arrives, however, it is clear that she has lived a hard life in the dregs of society, and that much of spirit has been extinguished. She falls in love with a young sailor rescued at sea by her father, but dreads to reveal to him the truth of her past. Both father and young man are deluded about her background, yet Anna cannot quite bring herself to allow them to remain deluded.