Doughboy Center

The Story of the American Expeditionary Forces

82nd Division





Presented the Great War Society

Commercial Films

The Big Parade

Director: King Vidor, 1925

One of the greatest and most successful silent films. The story focuses on a doughboy, played by John Gilbert, who must return home after being maimed.


Director: Edward Sedgwick, 1930

Love gets Buster dragged into the Army and then shipped out to France. One of Keaton's lesser efforts, notable as one of his earliest talkies and because he actually served in France with the 159th Infantry [although he did not see combat.]

Captain Eddie

Director: Lloyd Bacon, 1945

The aviation feats of America's greatest WWI ace combined with his WWII lifeboat adventure. Stars Fred MacMurray as Eddie Rickenbacker [show left]. Hard to find, but was nominated for several technical Academy Awards.

The Fighting 69th

Director: William Keighly, 1940

Melodramatic, charming film about the New York Irish regiment that fought in France as part of the 42nd Rainbow division. Cagney stars the as badboy who finds redemption. Wild Bill Donovan, Joyce Kilmer and Father Duffy all portrayed.

For Me and My Gal!

Director: Busby Berkeley, 1942

Yes, the AEF has its very own musical. This is one of Judy Garland's best and also marks the screen debut of Gene Kelly. The plot about a vaudeville troupe that goes to the front to entertain the boys is sappy, but the musical numbers are terrifically staged and Kelly wipes out a machine-gun nest single-handed.

Hearts of the World

Director: D.W. Griffith, 1918

War-time propaganda classic that was filmed on location in Britain and near the Western Front. Minimal doughboy content with the Americans coming to the rescue at the end.

Johnny Got His Gun

Director: Dalton Trumbo, 1971

Thoroughly dismal story of a thoroughly disabled veteran. Timothy Bottoms stars as the guest of honor.

The Lost Battalion

Director: Russell Mulcahy, 2001

Grim and inspiring story of the unit that got itself surrounded in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Scores high for the authenticity of the terrain, weaponry, combat scenes and dialog. Rick Schroder does well as Major Charles Whittlesey. Biggest flaw is the demonizing of the Divisional Commander, General Alexander. The pace is frantic, but then so was the battle. Available at the A&E website.

Oh! What a Lovely War!

Dir: Richard Attenborough, 1969

Another film with minimum participation by the Doughboys, but their arrival in France to music and lyrics of "Over There" is priceless. This episodic film also captures much of the texture and feel of the trenches in some of its sequences.

Pack Up Your Troubles

Director: Leo McCarey, 1932

Laurel and Hardy in the trenches in some interesting opening sequences.

Sergeant York

Director: Howard Hawks, 1941

This film helped prepare the American psyche for the Second World War. Gary Cooper won an Academy Award for his depiction of the Tennessee doughboy.

Shoulder Arms

Director: Charlie Chaplin, 1918

Charlie becomes a doughboy in this short feature.

What Price Glory?

1926 Silent; 1952 Talkie

Filmed interpretations of the notable Laurence Stallings and Maxwell Anderson play. In the superior 1926 silent version directed by Raoul Walsh, Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe depict the Marine Corps rivals Flagg and Quirt. In the 1952 talkie directed by John Ford, James Cagney and Dan Daily [shown on the left] played the leads.


Dir: William Wellman, 1927
Aviation epic focusing on the American Air Service and the first Best Picture Academy Award winner. The story is silly, but the aerial and combat sequences are first rate.



America - Over There

From: Army Signal Corps, 1927, 1996R

A 72 minute compilation of the best Army Signal Corps battlefield and behind the lines photography of the Great War. Reissued with a musical sound track and narration in 1996 and available at the website of the TMW Media Group.

The Lost Battalion

Director: Burton Ring, 1919

Actually a dramatization partly filmed on location featuring cameo appearances by members of the units that were trapped in the Argonne Forest. Lots of hokie stuff, but the filming at the actual hillside locale is memorable as is the true story of the pigeon heroine, Cher Ami [shown left]. Shown on TV occaisionally.

Men of Bronze

Director: William Miles, 1977

Excellent documentary about New York State's 15th Colored National Guard Regiment that fought under French command with great distinction. Filmed when the black doughboys and their white officers were still articulate. Unfortunately hard to find.

Remembering the Great War - A 75th Anniversary

From: First Division Foundation & Museum, 1994

Inspiring, human and witty stories from Doughboy veterans 75 years after their Great War experiences. Produced and partly filmed at Cantigny, the First Division Museum near Wheaton, Illinois. The film can be ordered at their excellent website.

The Return of Paul Jarrett

From: Jarrett Entertainment Group, 1998

Paul Jarrett enlisted in 1917 and earned himself a commission in the 42nd "Rainbow" Division. Trained as a specialist in trench raiding and capturing prisoners, he was wounded three times in the Second Battle of the Marne and in the Argonne Forest where he suffered from mustard gas. Seventy years later his grandson Clark Jarrett persuaded the old soldier to visit the battlefields of his youth. This 2 1/2 hour award-winning epic is the touching, inspiring and highly informative record of that visit. It can be ordered via email at or at this link.

World War I Series

From: CBS Television, 1965

Distinguished, comprehensive treatment of the Great War. Several episodes focus on the American involvement. Rates high for writing, Robert Ryan's narration, film restoration and music. Far superior to recent PBS series and much more accurate on the US contribution. Widely available.

The Yanks are Coming

Produced by: David L. Wolper, 1963

Excellent documentary on the AEF. Film quality and narration [both script and delivery by Richard Basehart] are outstanding. Nominated for Academy Award. Shown on cable TV.

Sources and thanks: Thanks to Roger Jones of Tipperary Books and DBC contributor Rich Layh for advice on films and the innumerable photo contributors who sent contributions in. MH

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