The life story of a salt-of-the-earth Irish immigrant, who becomes an Army Noncommissioned Officer and spends his 50 year career at the United States Military Academy at West Point. This ... See full summary »
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John M. Stahl
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The life story of a salt-of-the-earth Irish immigrant, who becomes an Army Noncommissioned Officer and spends his 50 year career at the United States Military Academy at West Point. This includes his job-related experiences as well as his family life and the relationships he develops with young cadets with whom he befriends. Based on the life of a real person. Written by
Location filming at West Point was done during the summer when most cadets were gone with the exception of new "Plebes" so as not to disrupt normal activities. See more »
In the scene where Marty Maher (Tyrone Power) is giving swimming instructions to the West Point cadets, cadet James Nilsson 'Red' Sundstrom (William Leslie) dives into to the pool, swims the length of the pool and does a flip turn to swim a return lap. The flip turn in swimming was not in use in the era represented in this part of the film - pre-World War 1. The flip turn was developed by Tex Robertson of the University of Texas while training Adolph Kiefer for the 1936 Olympics. See more »
Although the film has a running time of two hours+ ,for it tells the story of a man's entire life ,from his enlistment (and even before) to his old age,there is never a dull moment .
John Ford was one of the most wonderful storytellers that ever was.The first part of the film is made of trivia,but everything is endearing ,moving .Take the dad's and the brother's arrival:no syrupy violins and choirs needed: the Irish are doing Mary's cooking justice and they are not in a hurry to hug Marty.The same goes for Marty/Mary when they fall in love:what could be more down to earth than this kitchen ?And however something vibrates ,as the love they all feel for the country they left behind.
The second part deals with wars and if the tone has changed ,the spirit remains intact:what could be more prosaic than burning Mary's toilet to celebrate the end of WW?Although the hero experiments tragedy ,Ford always avoids pathos and melodrama: the child's death during the celebration is given a sober treatment.Mary's passing is perhaps the most beautiful scene in the whole movie,being Fordesque to the core (remember the death of the mother in "three godfathers") and her fleeting reappearance at the very end of the movie is not irrelevant.
A life is made of small joys and big griefs.
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