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Sergeant Martin Maher is in to see President Eisenhower who he knew
back in the day when Ike was a West Point Cadet. The army wants to
mandatorily retire him. So as Marty pleads his case before the
country's most famous West Point Graduate, we're flashed back to the
day as a fresh Irish immigrant he arrives at West Point to work as a
waiter in their mess.
And the rest of the film is taken up with the telling of Martin Maher's remarkable story which he wrote in a book entitled Bringing Up the Brass on which this film is based. The subject is a can't miss project for John Ford with two of his dearest loves involved, Irish and military tradition.
Tyrone Power who had played in lots of costume pictures as the dashing hero at his home studio of 20th Century Fox, got a chance to do a real character part here. His skill as a player makes us completely believe that he ages during the film from his twenties to his seventies. Of course makeup helped, but I doubt if certain actors could have brought it off.
Maureen O'Hara matches Power equally as Mary O'Donnell the fresh and fiery colleen who marries him. Her relationship with John Ford as she tells in her recent memoirs had its ups and downs, but she respected his talent and gives one of her best acted roles. And O'Hara adored Tyrone Power, she says of him he was a tease at times, loved to play practical jokes, but a fine man and a thorough professional at his job.
The supporting cast is the usual familiar faces in a John Ford production. I would have to single out Ward Bond as the head of West Point's Athletic Department who Power goes to work for as the best of the group. Also note Donald Crisp as Power's father, one of Crisp's best screen parts.
Tyrone Power was very proud of this film, it was a personal favorite and he and John Ford wanted to work together again. They did, but only with Power's voice providing the narration for an anthology film of three Irish stories in The Rising of the Moon in 1957. Tyrone Power's sudden and tragic death in 1958 put an end to what might have been a great actor/director collaboration.
At the beginning of the flashback, Power tells the actor playing Ike that it took him forty years or so to get the hang of the army. At the end he says that now everything he's ever known and loved is in that institution known as West Point. As Power says it, I defy anyone to remain dry eyed.
If you like Irish character studies you'll love this movie. This movie
follows in flash back 50 years in the true-life story of Irish immigrant
Martin Maher. Tyrone Power plays Martin wonderfully. When Martin arrives
America he takes a civilian waiter job at the US Military Academy at West
Point. Docked for "breakage", he joins the Army and works at several
different jobs at the Point. The last job being assistant to the "Master
the Sword" played by the very versatile Ford stock company player (Ward
Bond). At West Point, Martin meets and marries the love of his life
O'Donnell marvelously brought to life by Maureen O'Hara. Martin and Mary
setup housekeeping and are able to bring Martin's father Old Martin
Crisp) and brother Dinny to America. When Old Martin first meets Mary he
impressed when he asks if she still `Has the Irish' and she is able to
As the movie unfolds you will really care about Martin, Mary, old Martin and the cadets Martin helps through the Academy. Due to talent of the director John Ford and cast, the characters appear to be real people--not just a bunch of actors who made a movie. You'll be fascinated by the class "The Stars Fell On " (graduating class of Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, etc.) This movie will stir up patriotic feelings, but also shows the high cost of war. You will smile and just might shed a tear before this one is over. You will not regret the time spent with Martin Maher--and may find yourself thinking about this movie for a long time after you see it. This is indeed, one of Pappy Ford's finest.
First of all, I must admit I am biased. My mom went to college with
Marty Maher's niece, Maggie. However, as another reviewer pointed out,
this is John Ford at his best, with Tyrone Power playing the part of
Although I do like Wayne, this part called for a better actor, and Ford cast Power brilliantly.
I also can usually smell bad Irish accents from miles off (don't get me started on all of those awful 'irish spring' commercials), but Power sounds like Frank McCourt was coaching him.
The main points of the story are fact based, but some of the events at the end were rearranged to flow better in the movie.
Overall, for John Ford fans, this one is a 'don't miss'!
I've been humbled! I thought of myself as a movie buff. This one slipped past me. I'm a fan of Ford and everyone in this movie. I must admit I had never heard of this movie. Terrific story telling! The music brought back a lot of memories. The old saying "they don't make 'em like that anymore" certainly applies to this one. Telling a good story and characters you care about is more important than spending $100 million. Some of our current film makers could learn from this movie. You can entertain people sitting around a camp fire telling stories. Just tell a good one and make them care. I'll be adding this film to my library!
How did I ever miss this movie either on video or t.v. John Ford has his stock character actors and I was surprised that John Wayne did not have the starring role,which was well handled by Tyrone Power.A small masterpiece ably handled by all mixing the typical Ford traits of humor and serious modes. Loosely based on a true story,it is American propaganda at its finest and a nice tribute to the West Point Academy.One of Tyrone Powers' final films,and one of his best performances showing he could handle comedy,drama and a nice attempt at an Irish accent. The finale did become a bit soppy but does not detract from the overall movie. Sadly this film has been forgotten by the majority of film audiences and those in power who show supposed classics on the oldies channels.If it ever turns up on t.v. take a look and be pleasantly surprised.Maybe even todays so called writers,directors and actors might like to see how the master did it.
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.
You could call "The Long Grey Line" an affectionate tribute by one American
institution to another: John Ford to West Point. All the Fordian elements,
unashamed sentimentality, boisterious comedy, stark tragedy, are all here,
and Ford and his actors convey them all beautifully.
And what actors! Tyrone Power finally proved that he could act in his moving portrayal of Martin Maher, a real-life West Point legend who started out as a fresh-off-the-boat waiter and wound up as the Academy's much-venerated Master of the Sword. Maher died in 1961 at age eighty-four, just as an era he represented was dying, too. Maureen O'Hara gives her usual strong portrayal as his devoted wife, likewise Donald Crisp as his father. Two of the most beloved members of the Ford stock company are here, too. Ward Bond playes Captain Koehler, the previous Master of the Sword who takes young Martin under his wing. And Harry Carey, Jr. has a good spot as the young Dwight Eisenhower, who was going bald even then and trying to stop it with hair-restorer.
A military "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" this may be, but as a heartfelt, human tribute to the Point and the men who made it, as well as good, overlooked Ford, this film is a hidden treasure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the best pictures ever starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara.
Marty Maher comes to West Point and the years just pile on. We see Marty learn the ropes and become a leader among men.
He marries his Mary O'Donnell who acts mute at first. O'Hara is just a joy to watch on the screen.
Their life at the Point is difficult but ever so fulfilling. There is sadness when their child dies at birth and when war comes, Marty's best friend is killed, leaving a widow (Betsy Palmer) and young son. Of course, the son will go to the Point.
Tyrone Power is just fabulous here with a superb Irish accent and emotional appeal as Marty. O'Hara, in an excellent performance, succumbs years later to heart disease, leaving her beloved Marty all
The supporting cast is fine. Veteran Oscar winner Donald Crisp is wonderful as the father and Palmer is memorable in the scene where her son says to her: "It has been a wonderful day for Marty." Her reply, "It has been a wonderful life for Marty!" How poignant.
A great movie pulling out all the stops. Well worth the handkerchiefs that the viewer will need. Rest in peace Betsy Palmer: Yours was a wonderful career.
This is a very underrated movie from John Ford and a lot of Ford fans don't think much of it. It's not considered one of his best movies and this came out the same year as Mister Roberts. The movie starts out with Tyrone Power coming to America from Ireland and winds up washing dishes at West Point. Power hates washing dishes at gets a better job at West Point as an assistant to Ward Bond, who is head of the athletic department. The movie starts in the year 1911 and has a brief overview of his life at West Point until the 1950's. Power winds up getting married to Maureen O'Hara, who is a maid to Bond, and Power wants to go back to Ireland because of his family. It's a great movie and doesn't even seem that long at over two hours long.
I am a third year (Cow) cadet at West Point, and everything in this movie inspired me to start my West Point career. Witnessing the writer's and director's portrayal of the bonding and life of Cadets and Officers was quite moving for me. I Recommend this movie to any patriot or full blooded American who is proud of their heritage. This movie will return anyone to their American Roots. Too often we lose the correlation and connection between the nation and its military.
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