A semi-documentary dramatization of five weeks in the life of Vice Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., from his assignment to command the U.S. naval operations in the South Pacific to the Allied victory at Guadalcanal.
During the Sioux Wars, General Frederick McCabe's 3rd U. S. Cavalry Regiment is recruiting and training men for the upcoming campaign against the Sioux. Captain Demas Harrod is in charge of the D troop. He's also in-love with pretty Lou Woodard who lives in Mule City. Lou is engaged to Sol Rogers, chief of scouts under General McCabe. Lou doesn't seem to make up her mind regarding the man she really wants. She claims to be attracted to both men. This brings the two rivals into conflict that often times ends up into fist fights. At the fort, the training of men intensifies. After the graduation, the troopers get a well-deserved leave which they spend in nearby Mule City drinking heavily and causing disturbances. These disturbances prompt the town Marshal and his deputies to try to arrest the rowdy soldiers. A general fist-fight ensues, bringing Captain Harrod and chief of scouts Rogers together on the same side of the punch-up match. General McCabe participates in a commanders' ... Written by
What Might Have Been Had Peckinpah Directed It (But He Didn't)
The story of how General George Armstrong Custer led his troops to their deaths at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 is a textbook example of military megalomania writ large in American history, and clearly a story ripe for a budding writer, which is what Sam Peckinpah was in the 1950s, when, at the request of the production team of Arthur Gardner, Jules Levin, and Arnold Laven (for whom he would create the legendary TV western series "The Rifleman"), he was commissioned to write the screenplay for Hoffman Birney's novel "The Dice Of God", loosely based on the Custer story, and which was to become the basis for THE GLORY GUYS. But by the time the story went behind the cameras in mid-1964, Peckinpah, due to the fury that he had caused in Hollywood with the extreme production conflicts on MAJOR DUNDEE, was about to be virtually blackballed from Hollywood. And while the end result is nowhere near a terrible product, one has to wonder just how much further this film would have gone had Peckinpah been given the opportunity to direct his own script, which he in fact never did, contrary to what has been reported here at the Internet Movie Database (I for one would like to see corroborating evidence of that claim that he directed even a small part of it).
Even in the finished film, there are themes Peckinpah had broached upon that are still there--the conflict between two men (Harve Presnell; Tom Tryon) and their commanding officer, a steely-eyed, almost dictatorial Cavalry commander (Andrew Duggan) out to put the Sioux in their place. As this kind of scenario had loosely played itself out in MAJOR DUNDEE, however, Laven, who directed the film, seemed to shift the film away from this critical look at personal and military obsession to the love triangle between Tryon, Presnell, and a pioneer woman (Senta Berger, returning from MAJOR DUNDEE) at their fort. It was a point that Peckinpah strongly (and unsurprisingly) found highly disagreeable, since his focus was on the near-fundamentalist behavior of Duggan's character. In the meantime, Laven does stage plenty of good action scenes, including the attack on the Sioux, but they don't have the kind of raw (let alone bloody) energy that Peckinpah would have bought to them, and the editing of these scenes, while more than competent, isn't quite up to what was even done in the action scenes of the unfairly butchered DUNDEE.
Still, it's hard to say too many bad things about a film that is still as far removed from the old John Ford/John Wayne cavalry films as MAJOR DUNDEE had been; and Tryon and Presnell are extremely competent in their roles (though rumor has it that Lee Marvin and James Coburn were both considered first, before salary conflicts forced Laven to settle for the other two). There are also early roles for James Caan as an Irish-born cavalryman; and Wayne Rogers, later to star in the long-running TV series M*A*S*H, as another cavalry officer. Slim Pickens, who is never anything less than memorable, also does a good turn as one of the members of the cavalry. Perhaps the best thing about THE GLORY GUYS, besides those moments when the film lays Duggan's military megalomania bare, is the superb cinematography, most of it done on location near Durango, Mexico, of James Wong Howe, who had won an Oscar in 1963 for HUD.
All in all, THE GLORY GUYS does hold up as an extremely competent film. But it still leaves one to wonder just how much further up the ladder of quality sagebrush film making it would have gone had Peckinpah been the one in the director's chair, as opposed to the more workmanlike direction of Laven. One can, unfortunately, only speculate.
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