Karl Dane - "The Big Parade"
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The Big Parade (1925)

This classic World War I film, directed by King Vidor, launched Karl, John Gilbert, and Renee Adoree to stardom. Three men from widely varying backgrounds enlist when America enters the war, and become close friends. John Gilbert plays Jim, the rich spoiled n'er-do-well son of a millionaire. Tom O'Brien is Bull, a New York Bartender. And Karl is Slim, a gawky, easygoing, tobacco-spitting riveter. After seeing an early screening, Lillian Gish was so impressed that she asked John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, and Karl to co-star in her very next Hollywood feature at M-G-M, La Boheme. She also asked Vidor to direct!
In one of the very first shots of the film, Karl is seen high above Manhattan working on a skyscraper. He is the first actor appearing on screen in Vidor's classic film.
When his battalion is sent to France, Slim makes the moves on local farm girl Melisande (Renée Adorée). She doesn't approve; nor does, for that matter, Bull (Tom O'Brien, left) or romantic lead John Gilbert (just offscreen).
Bull and Slim fashion an outdoor shower using a leaky barrel. Melisande, offscreen, enjoys the show.
Slim and Bull -- being reprimanded? No surprise.
The comedy bits in this amazing film are contrasted with the palpable dread of war in scenes that were years ahead of their time in terms of realism. The rich, carefree James (John Gilbert) and normally ebullient Slim now cautiously march forward, not knowing what awaits them.
In the trenches, Slim and James.
A contemplative Slim in the trench.
Our three protagonists: Bull, James and Slim.
These frames were grabbed from a version of the film that appeared on LaserDisc from M-G-M.
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Last modified: Feburary 15, 2009