What Is 'Paths of Glory'? Stephen King's 'The Outsider' Slams 'The Shining'

The horror master's latest book contains a lil dig at Stanley Kubrick's film. 

Stephen King, famously, does not care for Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed adaptation of The Shining. The horror master has, on numerous occasions, talked about how the movie cuts out the emotional heart of the story he wrote. In a bit of a meta moment, King’s latest book, The Outsider, features a moment when a character disses The Shining, although not all Kubrick is bad. Instead, they say they’re watching Paths of Glory.

The moment in the book, which came out on Tuesday, isn’t integral to the plot. The Outsider follows a detective’s investigation of a horrifying murder and mutation of a young boy Flint City, Oklahoma. At first, all the evidence points to a beloved little league coach, but something sinister doesn’t add up. The Easter egg — ‘cause that’s basically what The Shining moment is — comes when one character is introduced while she’s watching Paths of Glory because it’s “better than The Shining.”

King doesn’t like Kubrick’s 1980 film based on his 1977 book, in large part because the main character, Jack Torrence (played by Jack Nicholson in the film), is crazy from the get-go, rather than being a flawed but good man who succumbs to demons — both of his own making and the haunted hotel’s. It’s a very, very creepy and effective movie, but it has a totally different vibe compared to the book.

Paths of Glory isn’t based on any of Stephen King’s stories. Kubrick’s 1957 anti-war film, which starred Kirk Douglas, is set during World War I. When a French general orders his men to attempt a suicidal run on German trenches, several soldiers refuse to continue to fight. Three are court marshaled and Douglas’s Colonel Drax attempts to defend them in what amounts to a kangaroo court. It’s dark stuff, but hey — it’s better than The Shining.

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