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The heart-stopping story of the first black regiment to fight for the North in the Civil War, GLORY stars Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. Broderick and Elwes are the idealistic young Bostonians who lead the regiment; Freeman is the inspirational sergeant who unites the troops; and Denzel Washington, in an Oscar(r) - winning performance (1989, Best Supporting Actor), is the runaway slave who embodies the indomitable spirit of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts.
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Based in part on Col. Shaw's correspondence, GLORY works best when depicting tensions within the regiment between black soldiers and their white superiors, when showing day-to-day strife among the men themselves, and in illustrating their anger at being assigned drudge work rather than fighting duty. The several battle scenes are most effective, especially a climactic Fort Wagner assault that decimated the 54th.
THE PATRIOT is a unique combination of gory violence, touching family situations, the private anguish of a guilt-ridden mind and the shared, often-black humor of comrades in arms who undergo the severest tests of their courage. The devastating effects of war upon a civilian population is also integral to the story. All such films have a memorable villain, this being no exception. Evil British Col. Tavington (Isaacs) targets non-combatants, wreaking havoc until Gibson's "Ghost" finally meets him on the battlefield.
These are excellent examples of top-of-the-line cinema. It's a two-fer that belongs in the home libraries of all who are interested in military or American history, also any fan of superior action movies. HIGHEST recommendation!
Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll ratings.
(7.9) Glory (1989) - Matthew Broderick/Denzel Washington/Cary Elwes/Morgan Freeman/Andre Braugher/Donovan Leitch/Cliff De Young/Jay O. Sanders (uncredited: Jane Alexander)
(6.9) The Patriot (Germany/USA-2000) - Mel Gibson/Heath Ledger/Joely Richardson/Jason Isaacs/Tchéky Karyo/Chris Cooper/Rene Auberjonois/Lisa Brenner/Tom Wilkenson/Donal Logue/Leon Rippy/Adam Baldwin
After distinguishing himself at the Battle of Antietam, young Robert Gould Shaw is promoted to colonel and put in charge of a 700 man all-colored infantry regiment-- the first organized in the Civil War (an all-black unit, the 1st Rhode Island fought in the Revolution). Shaw and his drill sergeant prepare the recruits for war unaware that their superiors have no intention of using these troops in combat.
The frustrated manual laborer-soldiers were eventually given the chance to engage a Confederate patrol and acquitted themselves well. They next spearheaded an assault on South Carolina's Fort Wagner. Shaw and over 100 of his men were killed in this action and more than 150 were wounded and/or captured.
This film's strength is the depiction by a sterling cast of friendships between the men, their struggles with a bigoted military, and the at times uneasy interactions with an empathetic white commander. The battle scenes, culled from two sources (including a 1988 Gettysburg reenactment) are secondary to the human story.
(DVD version of GLORY is here)
Also recommended: the 4-hour epic, GETTYSBURG-- one of the greatest war movies ever made. (VHS edition) (DVD edition)
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.
(8.1) Glory (1989) - Matthew Broderick/Denzel Washington/Cary Elwes/Morgan Freeman/Andre Braugher/John Finn/Donovan Leitch/Cliff De Young/Jay O. Sanders (uncredited: Jane Alexander)
At the beginning I was a bit annoyed with Matthew Broderick's doe eyed responses as Col. Robert Shaw, upon whose letters that were sent to his mother are what this movie is based on. By the end of the movie, I was definitely hooked with those doe eyes.
I can never say enough about how much I always enjoy Morgan Freeman along with Denzel Washington's acting and, in this movie, the soldiers they portray.
The battle scenes throw you into the madness as your neighbors and comrades perish, but you are still alive and breathing to fight the next battle with them.
Next to Saving Private Ryan, this is a must watch movie for those history buffs that ends up throwing you right into the chaos of war. I had this movie marked as one to watch for a long time and am sorry that I did not end up watching it sooner.
It is more than worthy of your time to reflect on these heroes and the difficulties they went through in their short lives. Do yourself a favor and add this movie to your collection.