The Golden Age of Hollywood

WHAT PRICE GLORY (1926) on TCM Sunday!

 

WHAT PRICE GLORY? was a popular long running Stage play on Broadway during the 20's. Every major studio in Hollywood wanted the rights to the story. Ironically, WHAT PRICE GLORY? was the War tale that Director King Vidor had intended to adapt and produce as a film in 1925. Vidor and MGM soon discovered that the exclusive contract had already been snatched up by Fox. In turn, Vidor Directed another War story pinned by author Lawrence Stallings (who ultimately wrote both screenplays) instead. This was to become the biggest motion picture success of the 1920's, THE BIG PARADE with John Gilbert and Renee Adoree. A film that stood  as MGM's most revered production and success prior to GONE WITH THE WIND in 1939. Some 14 years later.

Prior to THE BIG PARADE, War movies had been considered all but a dead issue in the movies after the first World War had ended. The public was sick to death of the subject. THE BIG PARADE reversed this trend. By the time, that WHAT PRICE GLORY? was completed by director Raoul Walsh  it had become Fox's all out effort to top THE BIG PARADE. An impossibility.

Nevertheless, WHAT PRICE GLORY? proved to be a huge triumph for Fox, and one of the top hits of the second half of the decade. Established Stars Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen as oft-bickering officers Captain Flagg, and Sergeant Quirt, where teamed with budding Starlet Dolores Del Rio to form a memorable combination on screen.

The gorgeous waltz "Charmaine" the name of Del Rio's character in the picture,
written for the Silent films score by the prolific duo of Lew Pollack and Erno
Rapee' was a smash. Becoming a number 1 record for Guy Lombardo in 1927. There is also spritely Phyllis Haver, one of the most popular screen comedienne's of the day in a memorable Camero, as the notorious "Shanghai Mabel".

:-[ Interestingly enough, David Shepard has noted that the print of WHAT PRICE GLORY? TCM is airing for the first time ever on TCM Sunday, came from him, and his Film Preservation Associates, rather than Fox. Their studio apparently had no elements in it's possession. Which is certainly disappointing as they maintain the copyright. And WPG was broadcast with the Movie-Tone score on the old AMC back in 1996. So Fox definitely did have a print at that time. So what could have become of it I wonder? They did a poor job of keeping track.



"TCM licensed WHAT PRICE GLORY? from Fox which apparently then found that it did not have, or could not find, any element to furnish to them.

I was able to help them as a favor, little enough for the many kindnesses TCM has done me and all the others who cultivate the old movie vineyard.

The picture comes from a 35mm full aperture fine grain master positive. B&W throughout, and just a little flat as is typical of early panchromatic stock.
The image has a nice grey scale but does not have the "snap" of deep blacks and shimmering whites characteristic of late ortho stock.

The sound is the Movietone score from 1927, taken from a composite film element so that we would not be dealing with an image cropped for optical sound, but synched up and of very good audio quality for a recording made almost 85 years ago."

  

David Shepard


With both a restored WPG debuting on TCM, the Silent version of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT having aired last month, and now a DVD- Blu-ray release of WINGS in January, (being released on the 24th) ahead of the THE BIG PARADE is just totally unreal. Never thought that would happen in a million years. Especially, since THE BIG PARADE restoration was completed nearly 8 years ago now. Just unbelievable to me.

I gather that allot of people here have not seen WHAT PRICE GLORY? Anxious to read your comments once you do. This seems to to be one of those movies that fans either love or hate. I happen to love it, but it's not nearly as good as THE BIG PARADE. Perhaps not a fair comparison, is it is a very different type of story in tone.

The film sky-rocketed the little known Dolores Del Rio to Super-Stardom seemingly almost over night, but once you have seen it I'm curious if anyone can tell me why this happened? Her performance definitely lacks the emotional punch of Renee Adoree in the earlier and justly more revered film.

Seasoned Lip-readers were publicly outraged by WPG. Describing the obvious profanity between Lowe and McLaglan, back and forth at each other  just about as
the filthiest thing they had ever seen at the movies. 
Criticism of this nature did little to discourage the pictures commercial success. Rather, it likely boosted business significantly. Vast crowds turned out just to see what all the fuss was about.

WHAT PRICE GLORY? Debuts this Sunday Night/Monday morning November 20th/21st at 12.00 PM Eastern, 11.00 AM, Central time. And is listed with a running time of just under 2 hours, at 116 minutes. Excluding the opening intro I assume. Rarely on Television in any form, and not seen at all for many years, I want to express my sincere gratitude to TCM Programmer Chuck Tabesh, and of course David Shepard for making this long awaited Premiere possible!

 


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