Taken from the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front is a devastating portrait by Delbert Mann (Desire Under the Elms, Marty) of a small group of German soldiers throughout the World War I. The star-studded cast is headed by Richard Thomas (The Waltons) as Paul Baumer, and includes such award-winning actors as Ernest Borgnine, Ian Holm, and Patricia Neal. As both narrator and star, Thomas occasionally seems to reincarnate his familiar John-Boy persona, but creates a character that has many more levels than that television alter ego. Watching Paul as he watches all of his high school buddies die is a highly emotional experience. He returns to his home a different person, conflicted in his feelings about the Army and war, evolving from an idealistic schoolboy to a fearful and humble veteran. The scenery and costuming in this period piece are well done, and surely contributed to its winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Made for TV. Also contributing to the greatness of the film are the exceptional cinematography and special effects that, while realistically gruesome, truly emphasize the horrors of war. --Zachary Lively
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