All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

All Quiet on the Western Front
Lew Ayres and Raymond Griffith

'All Quiet on the Western Front' is a classic war film made in 1930, directed by Lewis Milestone, and starring Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy and Ben Alexander.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won for Best Picture and Best Director, and in 1990, it was selected and preserved by the United States Library of Congress' National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Undiminished by time (and restored in 1998), this magnificent antiwar film, the first of the sound era, adapted from Erich Maria Remarque's best-selling novel, is a landmark for its vivid depiction of the Great War's tragedy and futility from a German soldier's point of view, for its technically inventive, spectacular battle scenes (at the dawn of sound in film), and for its prescient denunciation of fanatic nationalism and militarism. It was made by Universal Pictures with a large budget for the time of $1.25 million and it was a critical and financial success although not a runaway hit.

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Lew Ayres, only 21 years old, became an international star for his beautifully natural performance as the schoolboy eager to serve but disillusioned by the futility and horror of war. The final shot - a close-up of his hand reaching out to a butterfly, quivering as a French sniper's gunshot cracks out and the hand falling still in death - is an amazingly poignant image. The whole film still has a major impact today.

'All Quiet in the Western Front' was only the third fim to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and war veteran Lewis Milestone received his second Oscar for direction. Interestingly, German censors passed the film despite violent protests by Nazi groups. In a cruel irony, Ayers's career was all but ruined by public condemnation of his stand as a conscientious objector in World War II, despite his heroic service as a medic rather than a combatant. A 1979 TV remake was strong, if far less remarkable than the original.

Main Cast

Lew Ayres ... Paul Bäumer
Russell Gleason ... Mueller
Louis Wolheim ... Katczinsky
John Wray ... Himmelstoss
Raymond Griffith ... Gerard Duval
William Bakewell ... Albert
Russell Gleason ... Muller
Scott Kolk ... Leer
Ben Alexander ... Kemmerick
Owen Davis jr. ... Peter
Harold Goodwin ... Detering
G. Pat Collins ... Lieutenant Bertinck
Arnold Lucy ... Professor Kantorek
Edmund Breese ... Herr Mayer
Beryl Mercer ... Mrs. Bäumer
Edwin Maxwell ... Mr. Bäumer
Yola D`Avril ... Suzanne
Bertha Mann ... Sister Libertine
Joan Marsh ... Poster Girl
Vince Barnett ... Cook


Director ... Lewis Milestone
Producer ... Carl Laemmle Jr.
Other Crew ... George Cukor
Writers ... Erich Maria Remarque (novel), Maxwell Anderson (adaptation), George Abbott, Del Andrews
Music ... David Broekman
Cinematography ... Arthur Edeson
Distribution Company ... Universal Studios
Format ... B & W
Release Date ... 24 August 1930
Runtime ... 145 min (cut)

Academy Awards

2 Wins:
Outstanding Production ... Universal
Best Director ... Lewis Milestone
2 Unsuccessful Nominations:
Cinematography ... Arthur Edeson
Writing ... George Abbott, Maxwell Anderson, Del Andrews