What Price Glory(released July/52) is a remake of the 1926 film of the same name directed then by Raoul Walsh.Walsh had a very similar rep back then as an actor's/guy's director,just as Ford enjoyed in later years.The original starred a younger Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen in the main roles,while this 1952 version has James Cagney as Capt.Flagg and Dan Dailey as Sgt.Quirt,respectively.I must say I prefer the original version as it was much more raw.Also if you looked closely you could see it's leading actors actually cursing,not saying what the inter titles informed one they were.Actually it brings to mind another Raoul Walsh production in 1928 of Sadie Thompson.If you watch Gloria Swanson yelling at Lionel Barrymore she isn't verbally holding back either.And actually this was much more common in the silent era than most think.But I digress.
The story of this 1952 version has us in WW1 and Capt.Flagg seems to be one of the most despised and hard boiled leaders of men the Marines ever had.His platoon has just come back from the front and are resting in a small French village.Enter Sgt.Quirt,who is well known to Capt.Flagg and whom he busted once before for conduct unbecoming.The two will resort to fisticuffs on a moments notice,as one or the other will draw an "X"with chalk on the floor and away they go.Flagg and Quirt's on going love/hate relationship however does not interfere with war duties;that is where they think alike.Flagg knows Quirt is the best sergeant the Marines ever produced and is a useful component in the overall scheme of things.
Thrown into this mix is Charmaine(Corrine Calvet),the daughter of a local tavern owner.She is in love with both the good captain and the sergeant.She has asked the captain to marry her but he refuses.Just before the company is called up to the front again(unbeknownst to Quirt),Quirt is being forced to marry her due to a complaint made by the father.As Flagg stands as a witness,his commanding officer appears and apologizes to the couple-to-be about not being able to stay because of the imminent "push" by his troops.Quirt catches on and refuses to marry Charmaine.
Out on the front orders come down to capture a German officer at a particular farm house.Soldiers sent out never come back.Quirt and Flagg both sneak to the farmhouse at night.They shoot three officers and by happenstance take one prisoner.On the way back a shell promptly kills their hostage and slightly wounds Quirt.Back safely behind lines Flagg is bemoaning their bad luck when in comes a young Robert Wagner as Private Lewisohn.He has nabbed himself an officer and saved Flagg's bacon.Just as he goes to leave the private is killed by an incoming shell and Flagg breaks down.Shortly there after he receives orders to take the farmhouse he just came from and hold it.
A few days later and the platoon is back in the French town.This time Flagg is bound and determined to finally marry Charmaine.She agrees.However Quirt has been there ahead of him and as Flagg and Charmaine hold each other,Quirt enters.All bets are off.The men square off,both determined to marry her.They each toast with drink after drink,and soon they're pie-eyed.They finally agree to settle the situation in a poker game.The final card is dealt and Quirt would have won if Flagg hadn't started laughing/bluffing before handing it to him,and he walked out in a huff.Soon orders come for Flagg to take his men back to the front.At first Flagg tells his men that they never found him and to make anything up because he doesn't want to leave Charmaine.But the call of duty is too strong and Flagg relents and tells Charmaine it is for the best and leaves.Shortly after Quirt reappears and he and Charmaine embrace and kiss.But duty calls to Quirt also,and he hobbles off to join Flagg and the boys.
Ford made an excellent choice in Cagney,for Cagney played it like his fans expected him to:rough,no nonsense and willing to take on any man in the house.Dailey as Quirt had some job to do to measure up to Cagney,but surprisingly he somehow managed to pull it off.I have never been a Dailey fan,as I have always considered him a rather weak actor.But this is certainly one of Dailey's best performances in any film.The action as far as the war goes is well done and gripping,and throughout there is always the noise of shells in the distance to keep you rooted to the fact there is a war going on,despite what you see on screen.The film also has many funny moments thrown into the mix to lighten things up.The only complaint I can really muster is the last 20 minutes or so seem to last a little longer than they should.Otherwise it generally moved along well.
Technically speaking the film is in full screen,in colour and the picture overall is generally good.Extras include the two trailers.
All in all a pretty good entry by John Ford whose two leading men Cagney and Dailey do a good job in their respective roles.The picture is them,and the rest do their jobs in making them shine.3 1/2-4 stars.