The Real Glory (1939) Review

Director: Henry Hathaway

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, War

Runtime: 96 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

IMDb Page

One of my favorite movies of Gary Cooper’s career is this now-largely-forgotten film set during the Moro Rebellion in the early 1900s. In 1906, a team of American soldiers, including Bill Canavan (Gary Cooper), Terence McCool (David Niven), and “Swede” Larsen (Broderick Crawford), is deployed to a remote Filipino village to train the locals to defend themselves from Moro marauders (the Philippines were a U.S. colony at the time). Don’t let this picture’s obscure status dissuade you…it’s thoroughly satisfying.

The Real Glory has well-defined characters and, at times, has a palpable sense of desperation as the protagonists find themselves on the ropes against their foes lurking in the Filipino jungle. Yes, there is some silly romance that reduces our heroes to children, but it’s not as distracting as it is in some other films. This movie embodies the Wilsonian spirit of the United States using its might to democratize the nations of the globe and empower the downtrodden.

On the action front, most of the fireworks are saved for the grand finale, but there are some bits of action here and there prior to it. The final battle gets pretty over-the-top at times (you won’t believe what the bad guys do with the bending palm trees!), but it’s all part of the fun. People checking this flick out just for the heroic stuff probably won’t leave disappointed. The feature is also a bit more violent than your typical 1939 movie.

The hidden gem The Real Glory was rereleased in theaters after the United States entered World War II (retitled “A Yank in the Philippines“), but the War Department recommended that the film be withdrawn, since the Moros were now U.S. allies in the ongoing conflict against the Japanese. Keep your eyes peeled for Vladimir Sokoloff (who played the “Old Man” of the village in The Magnificent Seven [1960]) as the Datu, the representative to the American armed forces of the Moro community in the besieged town. So, you may not have heard of this action-adventure/war tale before, but I certainly give it a hearty recommendation.

My rating is 8 outta 10.

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