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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
No Greater Glory is Frank Borzage's adaption of a biographical novel by Ferenc Molnar. It's set in the postwar depression that Germany had after World War I. As it opens we first see a veteran talking about the futility of war and then it cuts to a German school where the boys, there are no women in this film other than the lead character's mother, are being spoonfed the same militaristic propaganda that sent Lew Ayres and his friends off to the trenches.
These kids learn well and Lord of the Flies like they split into communities, rival communities that we call gangs. The gang we first meet is the Paul Street Boys and their leader Jimmy Butler. Another group of slightly older kids are trying to push these kids out of the vacant lot that the Paul Street kids play in. This means war and these kids have developed their own rules about it.
One kid, small and scrawny George Breakston wants so much to belong to the gang, but the others tease him and tell him he's too little. He spends the rest of the film trying to prove himself worthy.
No Greater Glory is a really heartbreaking film about kids with misplaced values, the kind who would later become good recruiting fodder for the Nazis. Breakston's performance will elicit tears from the stone lions at the New York Public Library. Frankie Darro and Butler as the rival gang leaders do well by their roles.
I'd love to know how Frank Borzage got Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures to OK this project. It's a B film, no big stars involved at all, still it's not the most commercial of projects. Yet if you do see it, you will discover a classic.
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