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Legendary director John Ford's final film involving seven dedicated missionary women in China circa 1935 trying to protect themselves from the advances of a Mongolian barbaric warlord and his cut-throat gang of warriors.
In 1918 France, Captain Flagg commands a disreputable company of Marines; his new top sergeant is his old friendly enemy, Quirt. The two men become rivals for the favors of fair innkeeper's daughter Charmaine, but the rivalry goes into reverse when Charmaine proves to be angling for a husband. When the company is ordered to the front, this comedy interlude gives way to the grim realities of war. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The melody "Charmaine" (Rapee/Pollock), specially written for the 1928 version of the film, was incorporated into the soundtrack music following a best-selling version record by Mantovani making the charts in 1951. See more »
When Flagg and Quirt crawl through the lines in search of prisoners, Flagg picks up a German helmet and places it on his head. In the next sequence he is bare headed but he wears it in the farm house. See more »
Quirt loves the bottle, and when he's drunk he is the lousiest, filthiest tramp that ever wore a uniform. He's even worse than I am, and you know I don't allow anybody to get as bad as that.
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Well, despite having made "The Sands of Iwo Jima", John Ford made a movie about World War I Marines that doesn't really seem to be about Marines at all. I'm not a student of World War I Marine slang, but it seemed odd for Captain Flagg to pronounce Sergeant Quirt his "Top Soldier" and for Marines to refer to each other as soldiers. Despite the fact that they under French command, I found it odd for them to refer to being in the Army, since they are in the Corps. Go figure.
The two combat scenes are amateurish, even by Ford's standards. The acting is not convincing (except when Robert Wagner dies and Cagney manages not to over-act it) and while you can believe the two main characters don't like each other at the beginning, you never believe there's some odd tie binding them together. The character development is relatively tame, with only Wagner and Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter as a Marine Corporal and quartermaster!) showing any depth among the minor Marine characters.
Dan Dailey does play a convincing loud, parade ground senior NCO. He conveys the conniving and womanizing well, but when he is supposed to have finally fallen for the French beauty, it's hard to believe. Cagney plays merely a caricature of the hard-bitten, seen-it-all Marine. His final scene neither convinces you he considers staying or that the Corps means so much to him that he has to go.
The worst part is when a wounded Marine shouts out the title of the movie. It's something along the lines of "Are you going to get in the game, Captain? There's two minutes left and we need a hero. What price glory, Captain? What price glory?" One can imagine that delivered stirringly by a character whose motivation we understand, but instead, it is shouted by a nameless face with only a crazed look. It also would help if the Captain had been portrayed as a glory hound instead of drunken, war-weary yet sympathetic. I guess they had to get the name of the movie in somehow....
I was trying to imagine John Ford's World War I and was sadly disappointed that it wasn't more moving.
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