What Price Glory? (1952)

Genres - Comedy, War  |   Sub-Genres - Military Comedy, War Drama  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The idea of making a musical out of What Price Glory? -- as was the original intent -- is very strange, but it might have made for a more interesting film. Director John Ford rebelled against the idea (although there are a few brief musical moments that remain in the finished product), but he didn't come up with a fresh new take on the material that justified remaking it in the first place. Instead, Ford has diminished a great deal of the original's anti-war message, leaving a war-based comedy about two bickering rivals who vie for the affection of both the men under their command and the woman of whom they would like to take command. Unfortunately, the comedy is hardly as fresh as it needs to be, and it doesn't mesh with the more serious segments that deal directly with the war, giving the film a somewhat schizophrenic feeling. Shooting almost entirely on a soundstage, Ford isn't able to indulge his penchant for sweeping vistas and Glory thus feels rather cramped. What Glory does have working in its favor is its cast, led by the friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) brawling of James Cagney and Dan Dailey, who evince a positively bracing chemistry. Cagney is occasionally a trifle over the top, but endearingly so, and he and Dailey provide a great deal of energy that helps propel the film forward. A very young Robert Wagner is quite good (except when forced to utter the line which gives the film its title), Corinne Calvet possesses looks that make one immediately understand the ardor with which she is suited, and William Demarest and James Gleason add valuable color. What Price Glory? misses the mark quite often, but its cast helps to redeem its missteps.