The Making of The Big Parade (1925)

The Big Parade
The Big Parade (1925)

March 25, 1925. Frank Borzage and John Gilbert left for the Coast Saturday, following a short vacation here. Gilbert’s next part will be in “The Big Parade,” to be directed by King Vidor.

June 7, 1925. King Vidor’s “The Big Parade” — Although I hesitate to answer directly for several reasons, I really believe that this is my best picture. Here is a combination of a gripping story, sterling actors and  a producing organization that stops at no expense in providing realistic settings and the other physical requisites of picture making.

Vidor Starts on Interiors. Hollywood — King Vidor has completed war scenes for “The Big Parade” and has commence shooting interiors.

August 24, 1925. Exteriors Filmed in Texas

King Vidor, wih a staff of cameramen and assistants, is in Ft. Houston, Texas, where he is photographing final scenes for “The Big Parade,” for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

August 31, 1925. Talk of Road Show

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Considering Special Presentations for “The Big Parade”

Metro – Goldwyn – Mayer officials have under advisement a road show plan for “The Big Parade” a war picture directed by King Vidor from a story by Lawrence Stallings.

If advance reports are to be credited the picture is big. John Gilbert has the title role. The history of the production is interesting. Stallings who wrote “What Price Glory?” was engaged by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to do special work at the studio. This led to reports that M.-G.-M. had purchased the latter play which had been frowned upon by the Hays office.

Later Stallings wrote “The Big Parade” as an original. It contains much of the same atmosphere as “What Price Glory?”

September 24, 1925. A Sensation

Hollywood — “The Big Parade” now being completed by King Vidor. For Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. “Will be the sensation of the year. When released. It will probably be some time before it reaches picture houses. For it will be roadshown first.

The first day I was in Hollywood Sol Lesser of West Coast Theaters met me. “You will see the greatest motion picture ever made,” he said, “if you are lucky — ‘The Big Parade.’

A few days later talking to Joe Schenck. Rambling along about various matters. Schenck always an interesting talker. Quite incidentally he said : “I just saw the greatest picture ever made — ‘The Big Parade’. It is marvelous. You must see it.

William Randolph Hearst who saw it at the same time I did declared it is the greatest picture he has ever seen. Norma (Talmadge) says the same thing. It is wonderful.

Talking to Norma an hour later. Asked her if she liked “The Big Parade.” “Did I?” she asked, “Well, it knocked me out. It is perfectly marvelous. I think it is the greatest picture ever made.” And Sid Grauman says : “It is a marvelous picture. A showman’s delight.”

If five people of the importance of Joe Schenck, William jR. Hearst, Norma Talmadge, Sol Lesser and Sid Grauman told you such a thing what i would you do? Would you try to see it? I’ll tell the world you would. But when the idea was suggested to Louis B. Mayer and his aides, Irving Thalberg and Harry Rapf it was another story. A very different sort of story, indeed. There was much shaking of heads; many negatives. “You see,” said Mayer, “we haven’t really completed it yet. We are still shooting. Yes ; it is practically ready for showing, but — ” And that ‘but’ was ominous.

It took a long time to argue them out of their position. But two days ago I saw it. “The Big Parade” is a marvelous picture. A very great picture indeed. It may be the greatest of all pictures ever made. If it isn’t, it is so close to it that I don’t want to be on the jury deciding the point. And “The Big Parade” makes King Vidor a place way on top. Way up front. Among the greatest of picture directors.

And while Vidor is entitled to a tremendous amount of credit much is also due. To Laurence Stallings, the author, to the M.-G.-M. organization and Thalberg personally. Who deserves the most is incidental. There is glory enough for all. And still some to spare.

November 6, 1925. “Big Parade” Opens on Coast

Los Angeles — “The Big Parade” had its world’s premiere at the Egyptian last night. The opening was handled in usual Coast style.