Today’s movie is The Glory Guys (1965). This is a fun little cavalry romp that tells the tale of love and Custer’s Massacre.
Tom Tryon played the role of Capt. Demas Harrod. Tryon was covered in Episode 4 – In Harm’s Way (1965).
Slim Pickens played veteran Sgt. James Gregory. Pickens was covered in Episode 4 – In Harm’s Way (1965).
Harve Presnell played head scout Sol Rogers. Presnell was born in California and spent his youth in the great outdoors. When he was 7, it was discovered that he had a great voice and he began singing in church. He initially went to USC on a sports scholarship but left to study acting. Trained in opera, he spent three years touring in Europe.
Back in the US, Presnell after singing at Carnegie Hall, “practice, practice, practice”, and being seen at the Hollywood Bowl, the role of Johnny Brown was written for him. He first performed this role on Broadway and then in the film version, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) with Debbie Reynolds.
There were very few musicals being produced at the time so Presnell tried another genre in films like the western The Glory Guys (1965) and the teen romp When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965) with Connie Francis. His singing stood out, especially with “They Call the Wind Mariah” in Paint Your Wagon (1969), a movie that hilariously crossed cast Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood as singers. Had it not been for Jean Seberg, this movie would have been perfect.
In the 1970s, there was no film work for Presnell. With his singing voice though he became a major force in popular theater. He returned to film in a big way in the Coen Brother’s hit Fargo (1996). Other films followed such as Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Mr. Deeds (2002), Old School (2003), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), and Evan Almighty (2007). He was active on television as well. Sadly, he died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 at the age of 76.
Senta Berger played the love interest Lou Woddard. Berger was born in Austria in 1941. She started performing with her father at an early age. At 16, she was discovered by an Austrian director and got her first film role. She was active in the Vienna Theater.
In 1962, Berger moved to Hollywood and did quite well in movies and television. In three films she played almost the same role. These films are Major Dundee (1965), The Glory Guys (1965), and Cast a Giant Shadow (1966).
In 1969, she returned to Europe and continues to perform in movies.
James Caan played pugnacious Irish Pvt. Anthony Dugan. Caan was born in the Bronx in 1940. A gifted athlete, Caan played football at Michigan State University. Later while studying at Hofstra University he became interested in acting. He began studying at Stanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse. Caan began doing off-Broadway plays during this time.
Caan’s first film role was in Irma la Douce (1963). He really got noticed when he was cast as Mississippi in the western El Dorado (1967) starring John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. But what really put him in orbit was his role as Brian Piccolo in the made for television movie Brian’s Song (1971). I cry when I watch it and I know you do too.
Next came the role that made Caan a star. Director Francis Ford Coppola cast him as the mercurial son of Don Corleone, Santino AKA Sonny in the epic Mafia drama The Godfather (1972). Because of the way The Godfather: Part II (1974) was written Caan was able to return in flashbacks. Spoiler – he was killed in the first one.
In the following years, Caan tried a variety of projects include films such as Freebie and the Bean (1974), The Gambler (1974) which was one of his better performances, Funny Lady (1975), the follow-up to Funny Girl (1968), dystopian future Rollerball (1975), and the spy thriller, The Killer Elite (1975), directed by Sam Peckinpah.
Following this, Caan’s career went cold. Except for Thief (1981), most of his movies through the late 70s and early 80s were not much to write about. Then he popped back playing a tormented SFC during the Vietnam War pulling state site duty. This movie was Gardens of Stone (1987) and both Caan and his co-stars Anjelica Huston and James Earl Jones were great.
Caan crushed it again in the sci-fi buddy cop adventure Alien Nation (1988). He had a part in the highly-stylized Dick Tracy (1990) as Spaldoni. That same year he played a sheepish author, in Misery (1990), who is held prisoner and tortured by an obsessed fan, played by Kathy Bates .
Other great roles followed, such as For the Boys (1991) with the Divine Ms. M, the comedy Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), The Program (1993), Eraser (1996), Bottle Rocket (1996), Elf (2003), and Get Smart (2008). Caan is still making movies and has been performing on television, notably with his son on “Hawaii Five-0” and his own series “Las Vegas” 2003-2008.
Michael Anderson Jr. played young Pvt. Martin Hale. Anderson was born in England in 1943. His first acting was on television beginning in 1956. His first film was an English film, The Moonraker (1958). He turned in a great performance The Sundowners (1960) holding his own with Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, and Peter Ustinov. He continued to work in television and film before showing up in three American westerns, The Glory Guys (1965), The Sons of Kate Elder (1965), and Major Dundee (1965). That same year he was also in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). His next major film role was in Logan’s Run (1976) as the Doc. Anderson has continued in film and television with his last work being in 1998. He is still alive.
Andrew Duggan played the role of hard fighting Gen. Frederick McCabe. Duggan was born in Indiana in 1923 but raised in Texas. He attended Indiana University where he studied speech and drama. He was drafted into the Army and was in a Special Services unit commanded by Melvyn Douglas. Following the war, his contacts helped him on Broadway.
Duggan started in television in 1949. His first film of around 70, was Three Brave Men (1956). Other films of note include Merrill’s Marauders (1962), PT 109 (1963) as the narrator, The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964), Seven Days in May (1964), The Glory Guys (1965), In Like Flint (1967), The Secret War of Harry Frigg (1968), Frankenstein Island (1981), Doctor Detroit (1983), and A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987).
Duggan is known for two big television roles. The first as the original John Walton Sr. in “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” 1971. The other was as Hotlips’s father in a 1980 episode of “M*A*S*H” 1972. Duggan passed away at the age of 64 in 1988.
Peter Breck played mean Lt. Bunny Hodges. I mentioned this guy briefly in I Want to Live (1958) but he is mostly known as Nick Barkley on “The Big Valley” 1965-1969.
Erik Holland has a very small part as Pvt. Clark Gentry who feared he would turn yellow in battle. Holland was born in Norway in 1933 and was only in a few movies being mostly a television actor. These movies include More American Graffiti (1979), Titanic (1997), Gotcha (1985), Stargate (1994) and Ghostbusters II (1989). However, I mention him here because he was the Union oath giver in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).
Wayne Rogers had a small role as Lt. Mike Moran, assistant to Capt. Demas Harrod. Rogers was born in Alabama and graduated from Princeton before joining the Navy. Rogers began acting in the Navy and went into this line after his discharge.
Rogers studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse before working on and off Broadway for a number of years. He also did some television work. His early film roles include Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), The Glory Guys (1965), and Cool Hand Luke (1967).
His big break came in 1972, when he was cast as Trapper John in the military comedy series “M*A*S*H” 1972 – 1978. Feeling like Alan Alda was getting all of the attention Rogers left the show. He did some television and movies but not to compare with the previous series. Eventually, Rogers found great success as a money manager.
Henry Beckman had a very small role as a salesman. Beckman first showed up as a carpetbagger in The Undefeated (1969).
The movie begins in the train station at Mule City. Sounds like a great place. Sgt. James Gregory (Slim Pickens) is shepherding a group of new recruits in the train station. Included in the group are runaway groom Pvt. Martin Hale (Michael Anderson Jr.) and authority-defiant Irishman Pvt. Anthony Dugan (James Caan). They are waiting for the return of Capt. Demas Harrod (Tom Tryon) who is back in town finishing up a one-night stand with Lou Woddard (Senta Berger).
Eventually, he gets to the men and heads them to Fort Doniphan and the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Regiment under the command of General Frederick McCabe (Andrew Duggan). Under Sgt. Gregory the men begin learning to drill, basic arms, and finally horsemanship.
Lou drives a carriage onto the post and asks for Capt. Harrod’s quarters. Gen. McCabe and his staff return and the other officers are called. McCabe explains they are part of a campaign to return hostiles to the reservation but McCabe was not selected to command the entire operation. McCabe says he intends to do the whole job with just the 3rd. McCabe holds Harrod back and it seems they have a history during the Battle of Wishbone Creek and that McCabe sacrificed some men for his own glory.
When Harrod gets back to his hut he finds a bottle that Lou left behind for him. When he finds the note, he heads out in a hurry. Harrod is surprised that she lives in Mule City. She explains that when they first met 200-miles away she was keeping her reputation around Mule City clean. She asks to be let alone but he is kind of hard off about her.
Time passes and the men of D Troop improve. Dugan stays in trouble. Lou comes back to the post and Lt. Bunny Hodges (Peter Breck) an all around jackass and typical officer reports that scout Sol Rogers (Harve Presnell) will report to the general after he takes care of some business in town AKA Lou. When he gets to Lou’s place Lou and Harrod are having a fine time and getting all kissy face.
Sol tells Lou he has found $6,000 in gold and won’t be scouting for the 3rd. He expects her to go to California with him. Sol invites Harrod to leave and a punch exchange begins. The fight escalates until they roll down the stairs. Just then a group of soldiers comes to force Sol to the fort. Lou tells Harrod that she is engaged to Sol.
McCabe wants Sol to help him get a great victory against the Sioux. Sol tells the general that the Indians are waiting on the Army. Not long after this meeting D Troop heads out before sun up. The men are concerned that they do not have weapons with them. They ride about 20-miles out and Harrod leads them into an arroyo. It is not long before Plains Indians attack from both directions. The Indians are using lances to unhorse the weaponless troopers. At first, it seems like they are just counting coup as the lances are blunted. With all of the enlisted men off their horses, the Indians ride away. On Dugan has a hold of one of the Indians and is beating the crap out of him. They make him stop as the leader of the attack is shown to be Sol and the whole thing was done for a practice exercise. Sol challenges Harrod to a fight at 11 PM that night for reals.
The soldiers are released to go to Mule City and Sgt. Gregory warns them to stay out of the town marshall’s bar. Sol is in town buying new clothes a salesman (Henry Beckman) who has now moved up from carpet-bagging to clothes selling. Dugan leads Pvt. Clark Gentry (Erik Holland), Pvt. Martin Hale (Michael Anderson Jr.), and Pvt. Crane straight to that bar. He gets busy buying drinks for a saloon girl that is more like a saloon grandma. Hale and Gentry leave to get food. Sol and Lou are in the restaurant and he proposes. She stalls because she says Sol is wild and she may be in love with Harrod. When Dugan runs out of money the Marshall and his men beat the crap out of him. Hale and Gentry come back in time for the fight. Hale escapes and is taken in by a nice girl and her mother.
Sol shows up at Harrod’s room and they start drinking before they fight. Dugan shows up on post drunk and starts blowing the bugle. Lt. Hodges and Gen. McCabe find him and order him tied to the wheel. Harrod and Sol decide to go into town to look for Hale. They release Dugan and Sgt. Gregory gets six more men. The marshall is no help and a full-on bar brawl breaks out. The group is taking a beating until Sgt. Gregory comes in with the six men. Harrod is knocked through a door where Crane is consorting with a saloon girl. The Captain orders him into the fight.
The mother and daughter that run the local mission are feeding Hale pie. The mother says he can stay because he doesn’t curse or drink. Harrod says all the men in D Troop have that kind of character. Harrod says that Lou deserves the best and bows out of the love competition.
In the morning Lt. Hodges comes to cut Dugan loose from the wheel. As Hale recovers, he gets a letter saying that he can be bought out of the Army because apparently, the cousin he got pregnant married someone else. He wants out now because of Becky. His father has already sent the money to get him out. Becky says she will wait while he graduates for college.
Harrod has the men out on the firing range when Lou comes riding by in her buggy. She sends a major set of mixed signals to the Cap. He is being all noble and says he doesn’t want her to love him. She then drives away.
Dugan is complaining while they were working and Lt. Hodges gives him poop shoveling detail for the night. Harrod drives his troop so hard that McCabe calls out the band so they can pass in review. Sol and Lou show up in a buggy. As the troop parades by Sol realizes that Lou loves Harrod. Harrod sends the men a couple of kegs of beer for the night. Hale is lovesick and is waiting for his letter of release to come in. Sgt. Gregory tells him that he can slip out through the officer’s stable where Dugan is working. The officers are having a fancy dance because the campaign begins in the morning. Hale makes it to town and tells Becky and her mother that the letter didn’t come and he is heading out in the morning. Hale proposes to Becky and she accepts. McCabe takes Sol away and the general’s wife basically calls Lou a slut. She breaks down in tears and Harrod dances with her to hide her shame. When Sol sees the two dancing he agrees to go on the campaign. Hale makes it back to the stable and Dugan is drinking. Lt. Hodges comes in and Dugan has to dump manure on Hale to hide him.
In the morning, everyone is assembled to move out. The officers get to go and kiss their women folks’ goodbye. At the last minute, Harrod rides over, says for her not to wait for him, and plants a big one of Lou’s lips.
They make camp for the night and have a meeting of the generals. This is where it becomes Gen. Custer and the Little Bighorn. They all agree to meet on the 16th. As soon as McCabe gets out of the meeting he orders Gattling guns, musical instruments, and none essential wagons back to the fort. He pushes his men hard to get ahead. At one point Lt. Hodges sees Dugan tying a shovel to his horse. When he asks why Dugan says it is so he can bury the officer. Hodges orders him to dig the officer’s latrines for the rest of the trip.
A couple of nights later McCabe calls the officers and head of scouts. When he asks Sol how many hostiles are ahead, Sol empties a handful of sand. McCabe thinks it is an overestimate. Harrod calls McCabe out for rushing the battle a day ahead. Harrod assigns Hale to the medical wagon so he will be safe. Sol and Harrod have a buddy moment in the night. Sol gives Harrod advice about living and not planning on dying.
In the morning, they see some Indians and Sol thinks they are setting up an ambush below the bluff. McCabe orders Harrod and his troop to following the Indians heading towards the ambush site. He then surprisingly sends a major with a couple of troops to support Harrod. He says if they get into trouble he will come to their aid. Below the bluff, Harrod sees he is badly outnumbered. They dismount and prepare to fight. Harrod is surprised to see the other troops show up after what McCabe did at Wishbone Creek. The Major looks for McCabe’s support but he has already moved in to attack the village.
The Major decides to fall back and the troops basically take on the roles of Reno and Benteen at the real Battle of the Little Bighorn. Pvt. Gentry, who has worried that he won’t be brave, loses his horse during the retreat and faces death with no fear as the Indians charge down on him.
The troops cross a river while being engaged in a running fight with the Indians. Sol shows up to join them. The troops take the high ground above the river where Hale and some of the wagons have been waiting. The troops are short of water already. An arrow hits Hale in the chest but is stopped by an empty canteen. Sol and Harrod gather some canteens and sneak down to the river to refill them. They get the canteens filled but are almost caught by the Indians. Another group of Indians runs them down and they have a hand to hand battle. All of the Indians are killed but Sol is mortally wounded. He does one of the most ham-fisted death scenes every including they line “if I could only see the sun one more time.”
At sunup, the Indians are gone. They think McCabe has accomplished his mission. D Troop is sent to contact McCabe. When they get there, all of Cabe’s men are dead. Dugan finds Hodges and begins burying him while he cries. The infantry shows up. Harrod rides off to embrace life.
World-Famous Short Summary – Boys spend some time in the military
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Beware the moors