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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Glory Guys (Blu-ray)
The Glory Guys (Blu-ray)
Twilight Time // Unrated // August 18, 2016 // Region Free
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 13, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Directed by Arnold Laven in 1965 and written by Sam Peckinpah (who was, at the time, working on Major Dundee), The Glory Guys centers around Captain Demas Harrod (Tom Tryon), a cavalryman who reports to General Frederick McCabe (Andrew Duggan). They are, for all intents and purposes, at war with the Sioux Indians but they don't necessarily see eye to eye. McCabe will sacrifice as many men as he feels he needs to in order to win the day, while Harrod is considerably more conscionable about spilling the blood of his men.

As a large battle looms near, Harrod and Sergeant James Gregory (Slim Pickens) prepare their riders for the inevitable, while Harrod tries not to get too distracted by the fact that his beautiful ex Lou Woodard (Senta Berger) would seem to have a thing for a dashing young scout named Sol Rogers (Harve Presnell). It's a lot for one man to deal with all at once, and Harrod does what he can to keep his mind on military matters rather than affairs of the heart, but Lou, as beautiful as she may be, doesn't seem to mind trying to distract him now and again. Before the Sioux attack takes place, much drama will ensue (and even a good old fashioned bar fight that brings the really, really clichéd drama of the love triangle to new heights!) but eventually McCabe will send Harrod, Gregory and the others out first to serve as a distraction… a very dangerous distraction that may or may not let the commanding officer send in the rest of his troops with a strategic advantage paid for at a very high price.

The Glory Guys has some problems. It really takes its time hitting its stride, the pacing is off. There are a few too many subplots that dive into soap opera territory and the love triangle storyline is the most obvious of these, it brings the story to a grinding halt. Senta Berger is a beautiful talent and a fine casting choice for the part but her character is woefully underwritten, she has no personality here and despite the fact that she's gorgeous, through no real fault of her own is completely forgettable. The first half of the movie takes things in too many different directions at once and there are jarring tonal shifts as the western and action elements get segued by comedy, drama and sugary romance.

Having said that, this is not a waste of time, particularly for cineastes with an interest in everything that Peckinpah had a hand in creating. His script is not great, but it builds rather well to a conclusion that is nothing if not impressive. The battle scene that we all knew from the start would finish the picture is handled really, really well and it offers up a few interesting surprises in how it plays out. This is not just one last charge, one last stand up at Little Big Horn, but rather an examination of strategy and sacrifice. So while it takes too long to get us there, the payoff is worth it. The fact that it is a ridiculously good looking film doesn't hurt either. The camerawork is often times stunning, there are some fantastic compositions captured here, the kind that make you want to move out to the desert and take it all in yourself. The landscapes used as the film's central backdrop offer lots to appreciate on a visual level and even when the film lapses into moments of obvious padding, it still looks great. On top of that the film also gives us a score from the late, great Riz Ortolani best described as grandiose. Like a good score should, this one punches up the drama and action in a big way.

The performances are good if not great, but it's hard to come down too hard on the actors when most of the problems with the characters again stem back to the script. The characters are not fleshed out particularly well, but Tom Tryon does his best with what he has to work with and comes out reasonably unscathed. Andrew Duggan plays the egotistical McCabe with a bit of glee while Slim Pickens steals a few scenes now and then as Slim Pickens was apt to do in his day. It's also fun to see a young James Caan in a supporting role here as a cavalryman, while Peter Breck and Jeanne Cooper stand out in their supporting roles as well.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The Glory Guys arrives on Blu-ray set from Twilight Time in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks really good. Detail is typically quite impressive here and the colors come through on the transfer very nicely. The picture is consistently sharp and shows both good depth and texture, while black levels stay nice and solid throughout. There are no problems with crush or compression artifacts and outside of a few small white specks here and there, the image is nice and clean. Film grain is evident and obvious throughout but never distracting and there are no noticeable issues with any noise reduction or edge enhancement. This is a nice, film-like transfer that offers a very strong HD presentation of the feature.

Sound:

English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono is the name of the game, with optional subtitles provided in English only. A bit of minor distortion can be heard in the theme song but otherwise this is a fine, if unremarkable mix. Dialogue stays clean and clear and the track is free of all but the most minor instances of hiss. The score has a surprising amount of range and depth in spots.

Extras:

The main extra the disc is a commentary track with Peckinpah experts Nick Redman, Paul Seydor and Garner Simmons that, if you're at all familiar with their other tracks, not surprisingly covers all the bases and then some. These guys know their stuff and are having a good time here, which makes this easy to listen to and quite enjoyable. They cover Peckinpah's script discussing both the good and the bad that it entails but also talk about how Arnold Laven came to direct the picture, the casting of the film, some of the highlights of the film's rather polished cinematography, Ortolani's score and quite a bit more. This is one of those rare tracks that is more enjoyable than the feature itself in a lot of ways and if you're at all interested in the enigmatic Peckinpah, do take the time to check this out.

From there, dig into the twenty-six minute Passion & Poetry: Senta & Sam which is an interview with the film's leading lady. Speaking in subtitled German, she talks about working with Peckinpah not just on this feature but also on Cross Of Iron and Major Dundee. She looks back on her time spent on these features quite fondly and has some interesting anecdotes to share about her work and career during this period. The James Wong Howe Story is an eight minute short documentary narrated by Tom Tryon that was made as a promotional piece to promote the film during its theatrical run. The focus here is on the film's cinematographer and what he brought to this particular production. Despite its promotional nature, it's quite interesting and a nice inclusion here.

Rounding out the extras on the disc is a still gallery, the film's original theatrical trailer, Ortolani's isolated score in DTS-HD format, menus and chapter selection. Inside the clear Blu-ray case along with the disc is a six page color insert booklet containing some poster art and archival images as well as an interesting essay from Julie Kirgo that talks up certain casting choices and makes some interesting observations about the film's characteristics.

Final Thoughts:

The Glory Guys is too long, too erratic in its pacing and too ripe with clichés to really work as well as it could and should have, but the Peckinpah connection, the casting choices and the cinematography do make it worth seeing for those curious about the film. A top tier western this is not but it has its moments and Twilight Time has done a fine job bringing it to Blu-ray in great shape and highlighted by an excellent commentary track. Recommended for Peckinpah devotees and a fine rental for the curious masses.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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