Three years before Kirk Douglas hired Stanley Kubrick to direct Spartacus (1960), the lantern-jawed luminary had starred in — and co-produced with Kubrick and James B. Harris — a powerful anti-war film directed by the then 29-year-old Kubrick. The first world war drama Paths of Glory (1957), ended up being banned in various countries. The film incurred the ire of the French for its negative portrayal of their army, the Germans delayed its release there for a couple of years to avoid straining the relationship with France, the Swiss decided it was subversive anti-French propaganda, and the Spanish, ruled by the dictator General Franco, took umbrage over its anti-military message. Although this bleak film, based on Humphrey Cobb's novel of the same name, did make it into American cinemas, it was hardly a box office success there. Still, when Roger Ebert interviewed Douglas in 1969, it was Paths of Glory — not Spartacus or any other movie — which he called the summit of his career to date, stating, "there's a picture that will always be good, years from now. I don't have to wait 50 years to know that; I know it now". Set on the Western Front in 1916, two years into the conflict, the film's first scenes have French generals George Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) and Paul Mireau (George Macready) discussing an attack against a German position nicknamed the Anthill. They want to send thousands of men in, with a total disregard of the human cost. The rarified surroundings in which these senior officers go about their business heavily contrast with the hellish trenches and battlefields where their underlings, including the 701st Infantry Regiment's commanding officer, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas, pictured), reside and operate. It's easy to see how out of touch the vainglorious generals are with what's happening "on the ground",and how they care so much more for their own careers and welfare than those whose lives they control. When the regiment, even with Colonel Dax personally leading from the front, fails in its assigned task, General Mireau initially orders the soldiers' wholesale court martial and execution for cowardice, before amending his decision to involve "just" three fall guys. Even with the honourable colonel volunteering to act as defence counsel at their trial, it turns out to be as impossible to prove the condemned trio's innocence as it was to take the Anthill. Made on a budget of less than US$1 million, Paths of Glory 's inglorious tale is economically but effectively told. Editor Eva Kroll trimmed the film of unwanted fat, cinematographer George Krause ensured that the horrors of battle were clearly shown, and the acting is uniformly impressive. Kubrick established himself as a true master of his art with this work. He also found, in the woman billed in the film as Susanne Christian, his third wife.