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Margaret O'Brien, at 19, found herself in the same trap that most child stars do when they cease to be a child. She was too old to continue playing the cute little kid and too young to play true adult roles and so her popularity began to fade. Glory (1956) was O'Brien's first film in four years, and was crafted as a comeback.
With awkward taglines like "You'll Fall in Love as She Herself Falls in Love" and "She's a Treat for Every Heartbeat!", Glory, directed by David Butler from a screenplay by Peter Milne (based on an original story by Gene Markey), told the story of a young woman named Clarabel Tilbee (O'Brien), who raised a young filly named Glory to become a Kentucky Derby champion. Also in the cast are the reliable Charlotte Greenwood as O'Brien's feisty grandmother and Walter Brennan, who provides training for the horse and bickering romance for Greenwood.
This was not the comeback hit that O'Brien needed. Part of the problem was that the film was nothing new. There was the predictable romance where the plain but sweet girl wins the rich boy with the spoiled fiance, and there is really little doubt whether or not the horse will win. Half-way through Glory, there are some musical numbers, with Margaret O'Brien being dubbed by Norma Zimmer, who would be much better known for her 22 years as The Champagne Lady with bandleader Lawrence Welk.
Glory was shot in Technicolor and Superscope, one of the many widescreen anamorphic processes popular in the 1950s. The production lasted little over a month, beginning on July 6, 1955 and ending in early August. Churchill Downs and Calumet Farms in Lexington were among the real locations used. Of particular interest is the archival footage from the real 1955 Kentucky Derby, which Willie Shoemaker won riding Swaps over his rival Eddie Arcaro on Nashua.
Hal Erickson of the All Movie Guide places some of the blame for the film's lack of success on poor handling by RKO Pictures, who had acquired the film from David Butler Productions. Glory premiered in Lexington on January 11, 1956, and like O'Brien's previous film, did not rate a review by the New York Times. Despite its failure, director David Butler ranked it among his favorites.
Producer: David Butler
Director: David Butler
Screenplay: Peter Milne (writer); Gene Markey (story)
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, John B. Mansbridge
Music: Frank Perkins
Film Editing: Irene Morra
Cast: Margaret O'Brien (Clarabel Tilbee), Walter Brennan (Ned Otis), Charlotte Greenwood (Miz Agnes Tilbee), John Lupton (Chad Chadburn), Byron Palmer (Hoppy Hollis), Lisa Davis (Candy Trent), Gus Schilling (Joe Page), Hugh Sanders (Sobbing Sam Cooney), Walter Baldwin (Doc Brock), Harry Tyler (Beed Wickwire).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Blum, Daniel Screenworld Vol. 7 1956
Erickson, Hal The All-Movie Guide
The Internet Movie Database