When I was making my earthly debut in 1947 a pair of second lieutenants graduated from West Point. As distinguished from the rest of that class these two were Glenn Davis of Southern California and Doc Blanchard of South Carolina, back to back Heisman Trophy Winners as the best in college football and known as the best two running backs around. Professional Football was hardly what it is now and college football was the thing. These two were the biggest names in college football at the time. But unlike other colleges the taxpayers footed the bill for their education and it was to be officers and gentlemen at entry grade level in the army.
Just like Jackie Robinson starring as himself in The Jackie Robinson Story as actors Blanchard and Davis were great running backs. These two had a great deal of difficulty summoning up enough conviction to play themselves. Obvious when you put them against Robert Shayne and Anne Nagel playing legendary Army coach Earl Blaik and his spouse. You'll all instantly recognize Alan Hale, Jr. as one of their fellow army players two decades before he started skippering the SS Minow.
Glenn Davis was doing another kind of scoring back in these days as his name was linked with Elizabeth Taylor before she even had one marriage to her credit. No word as to whether Doc Blanchard was doing that well.
Part of the plot has Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside being tempted by gamblers to play pro football. In real life Glenn Davis did do his obligatory three years in the army and did try pro football, but injuries put an end to his career. Blanchard made the army a career and retired a colonel in 1971 after service in both Korea and Vietnam. All this of course after the year our film came out.
As did Jackie Robinson, these two guys deserved better, but they signed with a small independent producer who no doubt took advantage of the grainy black and white newsreel film of their gridiron exploits to make a grainy black and white joint biography.
The Spirit Of West Point has some nostalgia value for football fans and historians of the game, but little else.
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