The Long Gray Line (1955)

The Long Gray Line (1955)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Long Gray Line Photos

Movie Info

The life story of West Point athletic director Marty Maher was the inspiration for John Ford's The Long Gray Line. Told in flashback, the film recalls the first days at the Point for Irish immigrant Maher (Tyrone Power), a pugnacious boy who can't seem to fit in with the institution's regimen of unquestioning discipline. Athletic director Ward Bond takes a liking to Maher and arranges for the young man to become his assistant; Bond also plays Cupid between Maher and Irish maidservant Mary O'Donnell (Maureen O'Hara). When Mary's baby is stillborn, the Mahers begin to regard the West Point cadets as their surrogate children: this eventually leads to the film's most touching scene, in which Mary bids farewell to her son-substitute as he marches off to World War II. Following Mary's death, Marty stays on at the Point, until the place seems somehow incomplete without his presence. On the occasion of his forced retirement, Maher gently pleads with one of his former students--President Dwight D. Eisenhower--to permit him to remain at his post (Ike is played by Harry Carey Jr. in his early scenes, and by the voice of Paul Frees in the wraparound White House scenes). Based on Marty Maher's autobiography, The Long Gray Line seems at first glance too leisurely for its own good, but this appealing film gradually grows on its audience--just like Marty Maher himself.
Classics , Drama
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Sony Pictures Entertainment

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Tyrone Power
as Martin Maher
Maureen O'Hara
as Mary O'Donnell
Robert Francis
as Red Sundstrom Jr.
Donald Crisp
as Old Martin
Ward Bond
as Capt. Herman J. Koehler
Betsy Palmer
as Kitty Carter
Philip Carey
as Charles Dotson
William Leslie
as Red Sundstrom
Harry Carey Jr.
as Dwight Eisenhower
Patrick Wayne
as Cherub Overton
Sean McClory
as Dinny Maher
Peter Graves
as Cpl. Rudolph Heinz
Milburn Stone
as Capt. John Pershing
Erin O'Brien-Moore
as Mrs. Koehler
Walter D. Ehlers
as Mike Shannon
Don Barclay
as McDonald
Martin Milner
as Jim O'Carberry
Chuck Courtney
as Whitney Larson
Philip Kieffer
as Superintendent
Don Murphy
as Army Captain
Norman Van Brocklin
as Gus Dorain
Donald Murphy
as Army Captain
Lisa Davis
as Eleanor
Dona Cole
as Peggy
Robert Roark
as Cadet Pirelli
Robert Ellis
as Cadet Short
Ken Curtis
as Specialty Bit
Jack Pennick
as Recruiting Sergeant
James Sears
as Knute Rockne
Tom Hennessy
as Peter Dotson
John Herbin
as Cadet Ramsey
Mickey Roth
as Cadet Curly Stern
Elbert Steele
as The President
Willis B. Bouchey
as Maj. Thomas
Mickey Simpson
as New York Policeman
Pat O'Malley
as Priest
Harry Denny
as Priest
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Critic Reviews for The Long Gray Line

All Critics (6)

Eloquently and simply directed by John Ford.

Full Review… | January 29, 2014
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Heartbreaking drama, with many unusual film making approaches.

Full Review… | August 8, 2008
Classic Film and Television

Atmospheric, unusual Tyrone Power vehicle--no less different for director John Ford.

April 27, 2007

Quote not available.

July 6, 2005

Quote not available.

May 14, 2004
Reeling Reviews

Quote not available.

February 27, 2004
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Audience Reviews for The Long Gray Line

A very well done film with a unique story. Not the best of Ford's work, but a truly fascinating narrative with believable and compelling characters. Kudos to Tyrone Power for taking a character 50 years from the beginning to the end of the film with great precision.

Isaac McPheeters
Isaac McPheeters

John Ford's patriotic film, THE LONG GRAY LINE is based on the autobiography of one Martin Maher - who served 55 years as an instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point. Immigrating from Ireland, the film follows Maher (Tyrone Power) as he rises from a lowly worker as a food server at West Point's massive dining hall to a much beloved instructor in physical training - mostly as a swimming instructor. Ford plays Maher's early career at the Academy mostly as comedy - Tyrone even does a few pratfalls and soon broken dishes (and how he is to supposed to pay for them on his meager salary) become a running joke. Maher is involved in a fight with a Corporal (a very young Peter Graves) which lands him in the brig but fortunately catches the eye of Capt. Kohler (Ward Bond) who is impressed with Maher's boxing style and offers him a job as a coach. Maher soon meets and falls in love with Capt. Kohler's cook, Mary O'Donnell (Maureen O'Hara). The early part of their relationship is treated too mostly as comedy and if you enjoyed Ford's distinctly irish THE QUIET MAN - then you will have no problem with the first part of THE LONG GRAY LINE - especially when Maher's father, Martin Sr. (Donald Crisp) and brother Dinny (Sean McClory) arrive on the scene. The film though takes a decidedly serious turn half way through when the United States becomes involved in the first World War... and Maher soon is morally conflicted about staying at an academy where he helps instructs young men in the art of war...only to hear about them dying later in combat. THE LONG GRAY LINE refers to the formation of cadets who come to West Point year after year. Maher is particularly proud of some of his students - the like of Omar Bradley, George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower - who were pivotal figures during WWII. The film was shot in color in widescreen Cinemascope which really brings out the beauty of the West Point countryside. The film also serves as a companion piece to Ford's other similarly themed patriotic film THE WINGS OF EAGLE. 7.5 / 10

bernard anselmo
bernard anselmo

Earnest but somewhat schmaltzy drama of career West Point teacher, good cast even if the accents are laid on a little thick.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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