This is an affectionate look at West Point which focuses on Martin Maher (Power), an Irish immigrant who found a home in the Army. The story begins as Power, an old man, is about to be retired from the service. He protests personally to a former West Point cadet, President Dwight D.
Eisenhower (Steele), who was nurtured at the Point by Power back when Eisenhower was a lowly cadet. Power recounts the story of his life in flashback, beginning with emigration from Ireland in 1903. He gets a job as a waiter at West Point. Broken dishes abound, the charges for which soon exceed
his wages. Power enlists in the Army and is assigned duties at the Academy, but he is constantly getting into trouble because of his volatile temperament. Then the athletic director, Bond, takes notice of him and, after the two have a boxing match--Bond beats the pants off Power--the truculent
Irishman is made assistant athletic director. When Bond notices that Power has an eye for O'Hara, an Irish maid, he encourages a courtship which results in marriage. With O'Hara to temper his raucous ways, Power settles down. The couple are given a small cottage on the campus, and Power has soon
saved enough money to bring his elderly father, Crisp, to America from Ireland. The couple have a child, but the baby dies soon after birth, and O'Hara is informed that she can never have another. Power and O'Hara then transfer their affections to the young cadets, adopting them as though they
were their own, their favorite being Francis. On the eve of graduation, Francis violates Academy rules and, in accord with the honor system, confesses his guilt and resigns without receiving his commission. He nevertheless joins the Army at the outbreak of WW II and proves himself worthwhile,
distinguishing himself in combat. O'Hara dies and Power goes on, becoming an institution at the Point, a person remembered as a father figure by scores of the cadets. The President realizes that Power has become a great part of the Academy's traditions and allows him to stay on at the Point until
the end of his days. This rousing film ends with Power taking the review of "The Long Gray Line," the uniformed companies of cadets marching before him to honor a lifetime of service to the Army and the Cadet Corps.
Ford directs with loving care and lets just the right amount of sentiment through to capture the spirit of West Point. Shot on location, the story moves briskly under Ford's sure hand, and Power gives one of his most memorable performances, while O'Hara renders a vivid portrayal as his wife. The
director reluctantly accepted the CinemaScope process but made the most of it here, showing the wide vistas of the Academy and its splendid formations of cadets. The film cost $2 million to produce but turned out to be a box office bonanza, yielding more than $5 million on its initial release.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This is an affectionate look at West Point which focuses on Martin Maher (Power), an Irish immigrant who found a home in the Army. The story begins as Power, an old man, is about to be retired from the service. He protests personally to a former West Point… (more)