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The above comments should be corrected
The setting of the story is 1808-1811 - several years after the Academy at West point was established in 1802. The story is erroneously perceived to be about the beginning of West Point, but it is concerned with a period when the Congress was considering closing the already existing Academy. There was a move (in the film) by Henry Clay in Congress and fostered by people like Maureen O'Hara's character to keep the school going. Another character alludes to the idea that the school was able to only graduate 1 officer the year before and that the past graduates were not all that could be expected. Worth watching. It is a shame that it was filmed on Hollywood's Western ranch sets rather than the beautiful setting on the Hudson. I guess it would have been too expensive and they would have to shoot around the more modern buildings. A historic fort like Ticonderoga would have been a good setting.
If anyone is looking for a real history of the Military Academy at West
Point Ten Gentlemen From West Point will not be what you are looking
for. It should be remembered that we were just going to war in 1942 and
this film and a film for the would be enlisted men and junior officers
about the creation of the army brass who were leading them was a film
that Darryl Zanuck and 20th Century Fox was ready to give the movie
What is true is that the Academy in its early years was a pretty slap dash affair which did face challenges to its existence. The superintendent who really got the place going on a full time basis was a man named Sylvanus Thayer who arrived in 1817 after the War Of 1812.
But this story which is before the War Of 1812 has a man from the regular army come with a company of regular army men to be in charge of the Military Academy. Laird Cregar does not believe in the mission of the Academy, you only learn by being in the army and he says plainly to those new recruits is force them to quit and to close the Academy at West Point down.
Of course the cadets show they have the right stuff and as we know West Point still exists. As for the particulars of the plot Washington society belle Maureen O'Hara whose father supported the idea of the Academy has two recruits sniffing around her in some deep heat. One is southern aristocrat John Sutton and the other is frontiersman from Kentucky George Montgomery. No doubt Montgomery was in a part that may have been offered to Tyrone Power first. Personally I think Maureen's favorite leading man John Wayne would have been ideal.
She would have settled for either Ty or the Duke whom she spoke favorably of in her memoirs. Her rather distasteful memory of the film comes from Montgomery trying to take liberties with her while the film was shooting. Maureen said she loathed Montgomery and walked off the set, but came back and finished the film.
It's not history but Ten Gentlemen From West Point holds up well as action/adventure entertainment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The earliest years of West Point military academy are colorfully (and fancifully) documented in this serio-comic film. O'Hara plays the influential daughter of a deceased statesman who trades votes for the inception of the academy with dances and kisses. Her fiancé Sutton doesn't mind this terribly as he is one of the first men to sign up for instruction there. While he shows up, complete with luggage and personal valet, she takes over a local tavern in order to be near him and to serve the men in the institution she worked hard to create. Montgomery plays a buck-skinned Kentuckian who enrolls. He and Sutton almost immediately butt heads over issues of decorum and personality and, before long, they are also competing for the affections of O'Hara. The academy is overseen by the rotund and humorless Cregar, who doesn't seem to care if the enterprise succeeds at all. His brigadiers are led by the burly and lunk-headed Bond, who delights in taunting the men and meting out punishment. The rivalry between the recruits and the established soldiers takes up a good portion of the film, culminating in an elaborate plank against the brigadiers and a rough and tumble game of lacrosse between the men. Eventually, the remaining men of the title are pressed into service against Tecumseh and must prove their mettle to the disbelieving Cregar. Montgomery, in one of his early lead roles (though he'd been kicking around in small parts for years) is handsome, charismatic and heroic. He shows quite a bit of animation and enthusiasm and does a fine job with his role. O'Hara is lovely in the extreme and gets a chance to show off many sides. Her role is one with a feminist slant as she portrays someone who is not ruled by men in an era when men pretty much ran the show. Sutton is rather hard to take at times. His thin voice and effete manner, though deliberately intended to contrast with Montgomery, are nonetheless a bit irksome. Eventually, his character develops enough to overcome this, but one does wonder what O'Hara sees in him to begin with. This is not among Cregar's best work. His expressions have a hint of amusement in them that don't fit the character and he often looks rather silly, dwarfing everyone in his shadow (never more so than when he's hog-tied near the ending.) He's not terrible, but he was capable of far better work than is displayed here. Dale appears to nice advantage as O'Hara's chaperone and helper. The story of raw recruits being transformed into fighting men has been told countless times over the years and this instance is neither among the best or the worst. Parts of it are quite captivating and entertaining while other parts are silly and ridiculous, though much of the humor here is intentional. Once scene has a burro sitting on top of Bond after having kicked him in the behind several times! Possible homoerotic humor can be gleaned from seeing the recruits in drag (!) and riding two to a cannon during one of their punishments. There's more than a little bit of name-dropping (George Washington, Benedict Arnold, etc ) and tweaking of history, but it winds up being an enjoyable little film. A patriotic finale flashes the portraits of famous men who were graduated from West Point from its inception up to the time the movie was shot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the beginning of West Point, with its proud enlistees winning the
ancient historic French Battle of Tours all over again!
Handsome George Montgomery stars as the poor simple and principled
Kentuckian Joe Dawson, a young farmer with good strong instincts.
John Sutton is the British gentleman Howard Shelton who challenges him. Maureen O'Hara is Carolyn Bainbridge, daughter of one of George Washington's heroic revolutionary army. Together they endure torture and hardship to become the first American leaders of great men to lead our nation. Laird Cregar as Major Sam Carter doesn't believe the men are fit for duty and that the academy is a waste of money. They are driven to succeed by their military tactics instructor, a descendent of Napolean. The native uprising around Fort Harrison to save their commander inspires the Battle of Tours, since they are few but inspired. They surround the fort and make noise, and Dawson performs an heroic rescue.
Bainbridge marries him and they live happily ever after.
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