ANNOUNCEMENT: The World War One in Classic Film Blogathon


Update: The blogathon has begun! You can catch direct links to Saturday’s posts here. The wonderful Sunday contributors are here.

World War One. It is the centennial year of what is, in my opinion, one of the most significant events in all of human history and the general reaction has been… meh.

Look, I know that WWII gets all the attention, especially in the film department. Fighting Nazis is never going to go out of style and I can respect that but the groundwork for 2 was laid by 1.

So, how did WWI start? Well, an Austrian was killed by a Serb in Bosnia, which meant that Russia and France went to war against Germany and Turkey (and sometimes Italy), which threatened Belgium, which was the pal of England, which loaded a passenger ship with weapons, which the Germans sank, which annoyed the Yanks… I think Peter O’Toole and Humphrey Bogart come into this somewhere as well.

Basically, a bunch of people were like this:


And then everyone else was like this:

Another explanation, and a rather amusing one, has been circulating around the interenet (it’s quite long so I hid it under a toggler):

[toggler title=”Click to read ‘If WWI was a bar fight'” ]Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint. Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit because there are splashes on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria’s trousers. Russia and Serbia look at Austria. Austria asks Serbia who it’s looking at. Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone. Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so.

Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene. Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it? Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action.

Britain and France ask Germany whether it’s looking at Belgium. Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper. When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone. Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium. France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia. Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other. Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over. Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it’s on Britain’s side, but stays there. Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.

Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings because Britain made Australia do it. France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting. Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change. Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway.

Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting. America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself. By now all the chairs are broken and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany’s fault. While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.[/toggler]

And that is the highly simplified explanation. Wow. I see why everyone sticks with the Nazis as villains. The First World War was nasty, brutal, bloody and pointless. It also pretty much created the modern world as we know it. Still, there were no white hats and a distressing number of black hats. As wars go… it’s complicated.

Well, Lea over at Silent-ology asked if I was up to joining her blogathon and I naturally agreed, history nerd that I am. We are going to be looking at how the First World War was treated in classic motion pictures. This is where you come in. We like you! We would love to have you join us on this historical voyage.

lawrence of arabia


Right here and over at Silent-ology. Lea will take the first day, I will take the second.


September 6 & 7, 2014. If you have a date preference, please let us know. Otherwise, we will divide the participants evenly between us.

What can I contribute?

A review of any movie made in or before 1970 that is about the First World War. Films that concern the aftermath of the war and the plight of veterans are also accepted and encouraged. You are also welcome to review films made during the war that touch on the world events of the time.

Do these have to be Hollywood movies?

Pola Negri Barbed Wire Publicity
Breathless publicity for Barbed Wire.

No! International cinema is quite welcome. And, obviously, you get extra kudos from us if you cover a silent film but that is not a requirement. Extra special kudos if you dig up something from the Central Powers point of view.

What else can I write about?

Articles on stars, producers and directors and their lives during wartime. Articles about aspects of the war and how they changed the trajectory of the film industry. Basically, if it has to do with WWI and classic film, we want it.

What about duplicates?

In order to encourage variety, no duplicates, please.

Our wish lists

Need ideas? These are movies we are particularly keen to see claimed.

[column size=one_half position=first ]Fritzi’s list:

She Goes to War (1929 drama about a woman who disguises herself as a man and endures the hardships of the western front.)

Joan the Woman (1916, Joan of Arc gets a WWI frame story. Epic in every sense of the word.)[/column]

[column size=one_half position=last ]Lea’s list:

Scraps of Paper



Silent-ology | Hearts of the World (1918)

Movies Silently | The Heart of Humanity (1918) and Barbed Wire (1927)

Once Upon a Screen | Paths of Glory (1957)

MovieFanFare | J’accuse (1919 and 1938 versions)

My Classic Movies | Doughboys (1930)

moviemovieblogblog | Shoulder Arms (1918)

The Motion Pictures | Wings (1927)

Critica Retro | Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938)

Wide Screen World | La Grande Illusion (1937)

Nitrate Glow | The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1920)

Cinematic Catharsis | The Little American (1918)

Coolsville | For Me and My Gal (1942)

The Hitless Wonder | I was a Spy (1933)

Moon in Gemini | South (1920)

The Cinematic Packrat | Article on Basil Rathbone’s service in the war

Hitchcock’s World | Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Rick’s Cafe Texan | The African Queen (1951)

Girls Do Film | Hell’s Angels (1930)

Mildred’s Fatburgers | The Dawn Patrol (1930 and 1938 versions)

Silver Screenings | Nurse Edith Cavell (1939)

Jeff Rapsis | The Strong Man (1926)

Sister Celluloid | The Road Back (1937)

100 Films in a Year | The Battle of the Somme (1916)

ImagineMDD | Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Immortal Ephemera | The Last Flight (1931)

A Shroud of Thoughts | Sergeant York (1941)

Spellbound by Movies | Dark Journey (1937) | Sky Devils (1932)

Into the Beautiful New | Westfront 1918 (1930) and Outskirts aka The Patriots (Окраина) (1933)

The Movie Rat | Pack Up Your Troubles (1932)

Destroy All Fanboys | The Big Parade (1925) and The Blue Max (1966)

Portraits by Jenni | A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Caftan Woman | Ever in My Heart (1933)

At the Sovereign | Wooden Crosses (1932)

Big V Riot Squad | A selection of short propaganda movies including The Leopard’s Spots, Patriotic Porkers, British Effort and British and German newsreels.

Random Pictures | King & Country (1964)

Lit. and a Latte | Article on Mata Hari

Feet of Mud | A Soldier’s Plaything (1930)

Speakeasy | The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

A Person in the Dark | Mata Hari (1931)

Silent Volume | What Price Glory? (1926) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) | Dishonored (1931)


Grab one! Grab two! wwi-blogathon-banner-lawrence-of-arabia wwi-blogathon-banner-african-queen wwi-blogathon-banner-all-quiet wwi-blogathon-banner-barbed-wire wwi-blogathon-banner-big-parade wwi-blogathon-banner-hearts-of-the-world wwi-blogathon-banner-hells-angels See you at the big event!

95 Replies to “ANNOUNCEMENT: The World War One in Classic Film Blogathon”

  1. Dear Fritzi;

    Would it be possible to jump in a day early on Friday, Sept. 5th (due to our site’s Tuesday/Friday publication schedule)? If so, I’d like to enlist in your WWI Blogathon with a twofer: the 1919 and 1938 versions of Abel Gance’s J’accuse.



  2. Just happened to stop by and spotted For Me and My Gal on Lea’s list. I haven’t seen that film in ages! I’ll take it if it’s still available. I don’t have a date preference.

  3. Hi, this is Dan from The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog. I’d like to contribute a post on a little-known World War I film…”I Was A Spy” starring Madeleine Carroll and Conrad Veidt.

  4. Now this is one I’d like to get involved with, but finding a good movie is going to be a challenge. The one that immediately occurred to me as soon as I saw this was Paths of Glory but apparently that one’s been claimed. I can think of so many World War II films but not a lot set during World War I.

    I’d have to find something I know I’d be able to watch in time. Normally I’d look to my collection but outside of Paths of Glory, Lawrence of Arabia, and The African Queen (all of which have been claimed) I’m not sure how many WWI films I own. I suppose I could try claiming Sergeant York or All Quiet on the Western Front but that would depend on whether I could find a DVD copy before September (and don’t ask me to download it).

    1. Lawrence of Arabia and The African Queen are both on the wish list but they have not been claimed yet.

      1. Oh, in that case I could certainly do one of those two since I have both on DVD. It’d just be a matter of finding time to watch them again. In that regard Lawrence of Arabia would be harder to set aside time for due to its length, but on the other hand I’ve got plenty of free time during the summer so I probably could do that one.

      2. Well, since it’s not until September that means I have plenty of time, and I’ve got lots of time to myself during the Summer, so why don’t you put me down for Lawrence of Arabia? I suppose worst case scenario is I’d have to either write it from memory or based only on the first half.

  5. Wow, things are moving fast already! Fantastic! If anyone needs an idea, I have one more unclaimed film I added to my wishlist over on Silent-ology. Are you ready for it? It is…”It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who was introduced to WWI history through Snoopy’s battles with the Red Baron!

  6. I would love to write about South, the documentary about Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. It happened on the eve of WWI, and some of the Endurance survivors fought and died in the war after being rescued. If that’s O.K., I choose September 7 as my date, because Sunday is the day I usually post.

      1. Awesome! I’ve been wanting to write about Shackleton on my blog for a while now, and couldn’t find quite the right approach. I love the idea of tying it into movies and WWI!

  7. Well, I’ve already reviewed Wings and All Quiet on the Western Front, and Shoulder Arms is already taken. Can I do a post about Basil Rathbone’s time in the war? It’ll give me an excuse to get back to reading his autobiography. It was before his film days, so I don’t know if it counts or not.

    Oh, and I’m often disappointed more movies haven’t been made that focus on the World War I.

  8. oh my god oh my god, what a great theme. I’d like to do both versions of THE DAWN PATROL (1930/1938), if one or both haven’t been snagged yet.

  9. Hi there from Jeff Rapsis, silent film accompanist based in New England. I’ve enjoyed lurking through earlier blog events, to which I was introduced by my fellow traveler, the Nitrate Diva. Now it’s time to jump in and request Langdon’s ‘The Strong Man’ (1926), in part because we’re screening it in 35mm at Boston’s Somerville Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 16 to honor the centennial of WWI with a not-quite-in-time for Veterans Day event. I chronicle my own adventures in staging and accompanying silent films at, and would be thrilled to contribute to this upcoming blog event on either day. Thanks very much for organizing this and, if accepted, I look forward to joining in.

  10. Dear Fritzi, Could I do The Road Back (1937) directed by James Whale? It’s about a group of WWI veterans trying to readjust to civilian life and it has an interesting backstory: The studios were still shamelessly kowtowing to the Nazi regime and slashed the film to ribbons. Take care, Janet (Sister Celluloid)

    1. D’oh! It looks like that one has already been claimed over on Lea’s blog. Let me know if you have a second choice 🙂

      1. Cool! Now I just have to find it… Oh, and it’ll probably go up on the 5th if that’s cool.

  11. I’ve never participated in a blogathon before, but I completely agree that WWI is a sometimes under-‘valued’ event (though here in the UK the anniversary has been a pretty big deal already — lots of commemoration events, radio & TV dramas and documentaries, etc). Anyway, my point was, this seems a good time for me to jump into one! So if it’s OK, I’d like to tackle the 1916 documentary/propaganda feature The Battle of the Somme?

  12. Dear Fritzi, For some reason, in your list, my entry came up as being written by Journeys End (my other blog) instead of Sister Celluloid. Could you look into that? Thanks so much! Also, will we be assigned a day and blog to post to, since you’re splitting the duties? Thanks again! Warmest wishes, Janet

    1. Sure thing. (Your WordPress commenting account is linked to Journeys End, which is where I got the URL.) No problem at all to change it.

      If you have a day preference, let me know what it is. Otherwise, we will be splitting the non-preferrers between us before the event starts. Whichever day you like is fine. 🙂

    1. Ok! We will probably post a finalized schedule a week or two before the big day. Looking forward to that post.

  13. Whaaaat? No one’s claimed The Big Parade yet? John Gilbert walking around with a barrel on and making pretty Renée Adorée laugh in a great scene, that chewing gum bit you noted (it’s weird, but funny and cute), His two odd-looking war buddies and that incredible battle scene that changes the tone of the film entirely? Okay, I guess I can write this one up. I’ll also grab The Blue Max just to get another air picture in the mix…

  14. Hi Fritzi. This is a great idea to remember a war that changed the world. 100 Films beat me to “The Battle of the Somme,” so, if this fits in the guidelines for the blogathon, I’d like to write about a group of short propaganda movies including “The Leopard’s Spots,” “Patriotic Porkers,” “British Effort” and British and German newsreels.

    My blog:
    The Big V Riot Squad

    I prefer September 7th, but if you need to move things around to balance, I can do the 6th.

  15. Hi there! I was hoping to contribute on Losey’s “King & Country,” if it hasn’t been taken. I’d prefer the 7th, if possible. 🙂 Another great-sounding blogathon!

    1. Aww, that happens to the best of us. If you think of one, let me know. Otherwise, thank you so much for your support. It is much appreciated. 🙂
      (And just so you know, we are low on the nastier brand of period propaganda, should you care to wade in.)

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