All Quiet on the Western Front | 1930
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 Studios Hollywood’s backlot, and recycled over the years (you can catch them again in James Whale’s classic Frankenstein).
The trench scenes were filmed at 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.
The woods are Sherwood Forest, around Lake Sherwood in the Santa Monica Mountains, Ventura County, south of Thousand Oaks.
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.