Frank Borzage – No Greater Glory (1934)

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Synopsis:
Adapted from The Paul Street Boys, an autobiographical novel by Ferenc Molnar, GLORY is an unusually sensitive evocation of the pain of youth and the senselessness of war. Frail Nemecsek, a lonely boy who yearns to belong, worships Boka, the self-sufficent, charismatic leader of a well-organized gang, decked out in uniforms and sporting their own flag. The perennial outsider sees his chance to win a respected place in Butler’s army when their flag is stolen and war breaks out with another gang.

Review:
From Ferenc Molnar’s novel, “The Paul Street Boys,” Frank Borzage has fashioned a provocative and an unusual picture, which is now at the Roxy under the title of “No Greater Glory.” It is rather too sentimental at times, but, nevertheless, compelling because of its vitality and the good work of the boys who portray the leading rôles. Although there is a somewhat obscure suggestion of allegory in its theme, the main intent of the chronicle is concerned with one particular youngster’s loyalty to his “army.”

There are ironical touches in the introductory scenes, but soon one beholds the boys from a school scurrying off to their parade ground, which is adjacent to a lumber yard. The most eager of these juveniles is Nemecsek, the only private in the “army.” There are notations against him in the commander’s little black book, but nothing very serious, even as things go in this “military organization.” But how Nemecsek would love to have an officer’s cap!

These are the Paul Street Boys. Their enemies are the Reds, who gather in the Botanical Gardens and are older than the first group. The methods of the Reds are invariably those of ruffians rather than a “military” body. They do, however, reveal their admiration for courage and grit.

The film has its share of coincidences and here and there the psychology is somewhat strained. Just as they have traitors in many armies, so they have one in that of the Paul Street Boys. He is an officer named Gereb, acted by Jackie Searl, who even at his tender age has contributed a good deal of minor villainy via the screen. He, or rather Gereb, gives away secrets of his colleagues, and the dauntless Nemecsek is an eye-witness to this sorry officer’s treachery. At first Gereb is turned out of the army, but through the intercession of his father he is permitted to join up again as a private. This is not one of the strong points of the tale, but there you are. Gereb’s tears and an adult voice have an effect upon the commander, who, when a conflict is imminent, promotes himself to the rank of general.

There are several ingenious devices arranged by the Paul Street band for the fight against the Reds and the battle with sand bags is set forth with a combination of excitement and amusement.

The only casualty in the course of the narrative is Nemecsek, who is evidently a victim of pneumonia, who passes out of this world with an officer’s cap on his head. George Breakston is very effective in this rôle. In fact, aside from occasional fits of self-consciousness, the performances of all these lads are highly praiseworthy.

— Mordaunt Hall (New York Times)








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Language(s):English
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