The Long Gray Line Reviews
Ford's direction is spot-on. The colours are lush, the camera angles perfect, the pacing precise and consistent.
Tyrone Power is excellent in the lead role. The supporting cast - Maureen O'Hara especially - are superb too.
For a history buff like me, one of the great aspects of the movie is the references to great historical military figures. If you consider that Marty Maher spent 50 years at Westpoint, from about 1900-1950, he would have met every officer produced by Westpoint in that period. Some of those officers are mentioned or represented - Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Pershing, Patton, MacArthur. Westpoint's influence on US military history is huge, and successful.
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
We come into this movie as a young Irish immigrant "Martin Maher" is sworn in by a young Capt John Pershing. Marty's life at the Military Academy spans not only several decades. More importantly, it spans the lives of scores, HUNDREDS of young Army officers, trained to uphold the highest of standards for the defense of our country, our Constitution, and our way of life!
Marty's wife bears him a child that dies virtually immediately. This is typical of the setbacks that befall the life of a man completely sold out on the honor and tradition-filled life at a unique, peculiar setting like West Point. Marty not only overcomes all the punches "life" can dish out, his character and perseverance makes him an inspiration to students whose names include Pershing, Patton, Bradley, Bolivar and even one Dwight D. Eisenhower. These young men share at least one thing in common - their respect, love, and debt of gratitude to one Marty Maher. His fatherly advise, council and example go far in an effort to make these young men into soldiers and men.
His success is evidenced by the loyalty and love displayed by the legion of men who desired their first salute to come from no other than Marty, who enveloped him at the death of his son, rallied around him at the death of his beloved wife. He was a man to whom leadership was far more than orders barked, commands summarily dispensed. His was a leadership born of character, quality of relationships, and respect. None who knew him forgot him.
Would that I could be spoken of in such a manner