All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930


Lewis Milestone


WWI seen through the eyes of young soldiers from the German side, this anti-war epic still packs a punch. The huge sets were constructed on Universal’s backlot, and recycled over the years (you can catch them again in James Whale’s classic Frankenstein).

The trench scenes were filmed at the Irvine Ranch near Santa Ana, Route 405 in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, while more scenes were shot at Balboa, on the southern California coast between Newport and Laguna Beaches.

With only 150 extras, director Lewis Milestone was forced to employ bravura techniques for the battle scenes. And in the classic final shot, it’s the director’s own hand reaching for the butterfly.

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