Adapted from The Paul Street Boys, an autobiographical novel by Ferenc Molnar, GLORY is an unusually sensitive evocation of the pain of youth and the senselessness of war. Frail Nemecsek, a... See full summary »
Adapted from The Paul Street Boys, an autobiographical novel by Ferenc Molnar, GLORY is an unusually sensitive evocation of the pain of youth and the senselessness of war. Frail Nemecsek, a lonely boy who yearns to belong, worships Boka, the self-sufficent, charismatic leader of a well-organized gang, decked out in uniforms and sporting their own flag. The perennial outsider sees his chance to win a respected place in Butler's army when their flag is stolen and war breaks out with another gang. Written by
In a busy military hospital, one German soldier bemoans participating in a deadly World War, shouting out, "Patriotism is a loathsome lie!" Then, the story dissolves to a Hungarian schoolteacher telling his young students, "There is nothing finer than Patriotism, nothing nobler than War in defense of the country!" Keeping a few of the boys after school, for passing notes, reveals they are part of a gang. They are "The Paul Street Boys", and they are being threatened by older teenage gang "The Red Shirts" who want to take control of a vacant lot. The lot is the only one left in the neighborhood where the gang can meet and play. "The Paul Street Boys" like to play war games.
Most of the two dozen members of the gang are officers. Only small but determined George Breakston (as Erno Nemecsek), remains a "Private". Young blonde Breakston is the smallest because he won't wear heels. He's also clumsy and admits to being afraid - but "Nemecsek" possesses an enviable amount of determination. Despite being made a scapegoat in the group, Breakston admires "The Paul Street Boys" courageous leader Jimmy Butler (as Boka), who is reelected over a scheming Jackie Searl (as Gereb). Young Searl gets only two votes, from himself and the confident winner.
The boys are playing marbles when "The Red Shirts" cocky leader Frankie Darro (as Feri Ats) arrives on screen. Mr. Darro is obviously going to be hard to beat. Darro has already made inroads; working for the enemy, Searl lets Darro sneak into the "Paul Street Boys" lot and steal their flag. That evening, Breakston volunteers for a dangerous mission - to accompany leader Butler and banana lover Donald Haines (as Csonakos) to "The Red Shirts" camp, and bring back their flag. You'll have to see for yourself how successful they are, but you can be sure the gangs go to War...
An interesting side effect of Breakston's capture is the respect Darro has for his enemy's heroics. Breakston would find himself a more valued member of Darro's gang, but never wavers in his support for Butler. These relationships are highly intriguing. You can probably read a lot of different things in the allegorical story (my favorite "reading" is of "Nemecsek" as Jewish, but there are other interpretations). This film is clearly from a superior source, even without the introduction, "From Ferenc Molnar's immortal book." As it turns out, this is a classic novel from Hungry. For upshot Columbia Pictures, director Frank Borzage, photographer Joseph August, and editor Viola Lawrence excel.
Each of the performers are outstanding, with an amazing lead by Breakston. He may tend toward the sentimental, but plays it as directed. The producers and/or Mr. Borzage seem to have added an "All Quiet on the Western Front" type opening, which partially works; really, the story was strong enough as is. Also regrettable is the decision to intentionally speed up the film in selected parts. Incredibly, this received an homage in the opening of the excellent 1969 re-make, which was nominated for an "Academy Award" in the foreign language category.
******** No Greater Glory (3/14/34) Frank Borzage ~ George Breakston, Jimmy Butler, Frankie Darro, Jackie Searl
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