Frequently cited as the precursor to Citizen Kane, Power and the Glory is the first major Hollywood film to extensively utilize narrated flashbacks to tell its story. At the funeral of a powerful railroad executive (Spencer Tracy), the exec's best friend (Ralph Morgan) recalls the dead man's colorful but tragic life. We see Tracy's early years as a trackwalker and his marriage to Colleen Moore, who helps him rise to the top. At first, Tracy is a kindly man, a fair minded employer and a devoted husband and father, but his ever-increasing power corrupts him. He leaves Moore for an adventuress (Helen Vinson), whereupon his wife commits suicide. Tracy later kills himself as well when he learns that his second wife has been unfaithful with his grown son. The "narrative" technique used to relate the plotline of Power and the Glory is interesting, though the film itself is a bit too cut-and-dried (suicide seems to be a logical solution rather than a last desperate move) and far too short (76 minutes) to do justice to its central character.
by Hal Erickson synopsis