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 Real Glory, The,The Real Glory

The Real Glory

It is 1906 and the American Army fights to maintain control of the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. The Americans assemble a small team of experts including Doctor Bill Canavan (Gary Cooper), Lieutenant Terence McCool (David Niven), Capt. Steve Hartley (Reginald Owen), Lieutenant Larson (Broderick Crawford) and Capt. George Manning (Russell Hicks) to train the local natives to defend themselves.

Sequestered on the Philippine island of Mindanao, the American soldiers help to fend off the hostile, attacking Moro tribesmen determined to take possession of the islands and their people.

The slowly building Moro assault led by the diabolical Moro leader Alipang (Tetsu Komai) begins guerrilla-style with the brutal murder of Colonel Hatch (Roy Gordon), designed to draw the Americans into the jungle. The Moro then murder the base commander Capt. George Manning in front of his wife, who is visiting from the mainland. His replacement, Capt. Steve Hartley is slowly going blind from a head wound sustained during the attack on Hatch, impairing his ability to lead his men and protect his visiting daughter Linda Hartley (Andrea Leeds) who he has not seen in four years.

The Moro further endanger the villagers when they dam a river, cutting off their water supply and creating an outbreak of cholera. The action-filled grand finale of the film is especially memorable, as camp doctor Bill Canavan saves the day by riding a raft down river to save the villagers from the Moro.

Viewers of The Real Glory (1939) will certainly notice several unique aspects of the Moro warfare style including their preference for machete hand to hand combat, their use of gory guerilla-style booby traps and their imperviousness to the American army's bullets. In fact, the Moslem Moro tribesmen were so resistant to .38-calibre bullets that the Army developed the .45-calibre automatic to better repel them.

The Philippine government was displeased with The Real Glory because they felt it portrayed the native Philippine soldiers as cowards, afraid of the fearless, death-defying Moro. The film's producer Samuel Goldwyn, after first refusing to alter the questionable scenes, ended up deleting some sequences on the advice of aide James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Representatives of the Moro might have had better grounds to object to their portrayal in the film as demonic, bloodthirsty savages.

Writers at the Daily Worker also objected to the portrait of the Moros, "In times like these, we question the wisdom of rattling the bones in Yankee imperialism's closet. To show the Moros as bloodthirsty savages is neither fair to them nor to history."

The basis for The Real Glory, Charles L. Clifford's novel first appeared in Redbook in 1937. Production on The Real Glory was delayed because of script difficulties and an injury sustained by Andrea Leeds. The writers signed to work on the film at various stages included Dudley Nichols, Charles Bennett, Sidney Howard, Howard Estabrook, Gene Fowler, Humphrey Cobb, Jan Fortune and Anthony Veiller. Background shots of the Philippines were combined with the California sets built at a cost of $200,000. Approximately 1200 Filipinos were used as extras in the film, coordinated by the daughter-in-law of the Philippine Ambassador to the United States. The production was estimated to have cost more money ($2 million) and taken more time (200 eight-hour working days) than the original 1906 campaign.

The technical advisor for the film, Colonel William H. Shutan, was the former military governor of the island of Mindanao where the film took place. Both a domestic and foreign version of the film were shot. Despite the assertion in Life magazine that the American version Òmay seem gory to U.S. audiences," it was the foreign version which emphasized the Òvisual and audible horror aspects of the Philippine uprising in graphic detail," including a scene where Lieutenant Larson is eaten alive by ants. The screen's first Tarzan, Elmo Lincoln, also had a small bit part in the film.

Gary Cooper and director Henry Hathaway had worked together previously on another jungle action adventure, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935). Cooper's box office credential was boosted by his performance in The Real Glory and critics were especially enamored of Cooper as the brave and immensely capable doctor. Graham Greene remarked that "Sometimes his lean photogenic face seems to leave everything to the lens, but there is no question here of his not acting. Watch him inoculate the girl against cholera - the casual jab of the needle, and the dressing slapped on while he talks, as though a thousand arms had taught him where to stab and he doesn't have to think any more." The son of a wealthy rancher, Cooper had initially yearned to be a political cartoonist. But when he appeared in his first talking picture success, The Virginian (1929), his all-American good looks and distinctive, laconic speech patterns seemed tailor made for the cinema. Cooper was especially adept at playing American heroes, from valiant World War I soldier Alvin York in Sergeant York (1941) (for which he won an Oscar®) to baseball legend Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees (1942).

The Real Glory, which was reissued in 1942 as A Yank in the Philippines was, ironically enough, withdrawn from circulation during World War II because the Moros had become American allies.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn, Robert Riskin
Screenplay: Jo Swerling and Robert Presnell, Sr. based on a novel by Charles L. Clifford
Cinematography: Rudolph Mate
Production Design: James Basevi
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Gary Cooper (Dr. Bill Canavan), Andrea Leeds (Linda Hartley), David Niven (Lt. McCool), Reginald Owen (Capt. Steve Hartley), Broderick Crawford (Lt. Swede Larson), Kay Johnson (Mabel Manning), Charles Waldron (Padre Rafael), Russell Hicks (Capt. George Manning), Roy Gordon (Col. Hatch), Benny Inocencio (Miguel), Tetsu Komai (Alipang).

by Felicia Feaster



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