Maureen Powers to West Point
Having arrived from Ireland just 24 hours earlier Martin 'Marty' Maher (Tyrone Power) shows up at West Point to start work in the kitchen. It soon becomes evident that kitchen work is not for Marty when he ends up owing 3 months wages for breakages. So having walked out of the kitchen Marty enlists only to discover his lack of discipline makes him a poor soldier as well. But his can do attitude comes to the attention of Captain Koehler (Ward Bond), the head of the West Point athletics department, where Marty ends up working for the next 50 years with his easy going manner bringing the best out of cadets. Whilst there he also meets Mary O'Donnell (Maureen O'Hara) who arrives from Ireland to work for Captain Koehler and his wife and after a tumultuous courtship to the fiery red head they end up wed. But after 50 years of service Marty finds himself facing mandatory retirement which sees him visit his old friend Eisenhower (Harry Carey Jr.) for his help
Whilst many will have heard of John Ford's "The Quiet Man" I wonder how many have heard of his "The Long Gray Line"? I will admit there was a time when I had never heard of "The Long Gray Line" but since watching it for the first time back in the 90s it has been one of my favourite movies. The thing is that "The Long Gray Line" is very different to "The Quiet Man" yet still has a similar appeal with some Irish stereotypes, some romance, plenty of humour, some drama and a story about people rather than events all of which combines to make for some charming afternoon viewing.
Now in many ways the story to "The Long Gray Line" is simple as after a brief set up as Marty visits Eisenhower we jump back to 50 years earlier and Marty getting off the train near West Point at the start of an amusing wander through his life. We see his accident prone ways in the kitchen, his disobedience when it comes to taking orders, the wonderful comedy of him trying to woo the fiery Mary and so on as well as some touching drama. It may not sound much but every fun scene is full of comedy especially when it comes to the courtship of Marty and Mary and in truth I don't think a movie makes me smile more when it comes to courtships, even "The Quiet Man" doesn't make me smile as much as this. But it has its dramatic scenes as well as life is not always rosy for Marty and Mary and many of these will leave you feeling touched.
What that actually means is that "The Long Gray Line" is all about the acting of Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara who both plough the comedy of the script and their characters quite brilliantly. From Tyrone turning on the Oirish charm as the easy going Marty to Maureen delivering another loveable yet fiery red head there is brilliant chemistry and great timing. But whilst Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara are the stars of the movie the supporting performances be it Ward Bond as Captain Koehler or Donald Crisp as Marty's father are just as brilliant especially from Crisp who intentionally dominates scenes like a dominating father should.
What this all boils down to is that "The Long Gray Line" is one of those movies which has an infectious spirit, a simple charm built on enjoyable performances and fun comedy writing. I doubt "The Long Gray Line" does justice to the true story it is based upon but in its own right it works brilliantly.