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Waterloo Bridge

Screening on Film
Directed by James Whale.
With Mae Clarke, Kent Douglass, Bette Davis.
US, 1931, 35mm, black & white, 72 min.
Print source: Warner Bros.

An Englishman who became one of the great Hollywood directors of the 1930s, James Whale was also a World War I veteran. He made a handful of war films, including The Road Back, a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. One of his most moving films is this low-budget adaptation of a popular and topical stage play. Roy, a naïve American soldier in London during World War I, falls in love with the winsome Myra, another American, played by the mesmerizing Mae Clarke. Claiming to work as a chorus girl, Myra cannot tell Roy that she has lost her job and now makes her living as a prostitute. Out of this melodramatic—and definitely pre-Code—material, Whale fashions a vivid example of the war film that focuses not on combat but on lovers caught in the crucible of the homefront.

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Grand Illusions
The Cinema of World War I

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