The Spirit of West Point


1h 17m 1947

Film Details

Also Known As
On Parade
Release Date
Oct 4, 1947
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 2 Oct 1947
Production Company
Bro-Rog Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Film Classics, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m

Synopsis

In the fall of 1944, Coach Earl "Red" Blaik of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, admonishes his football squad to study hard and play fair. During the team's first scrimmage, "plebe" Felix "Doc" Blanchard, Jr. of Bishopville, South Carolina, and Glenn Davis of Claremont, California impress each other with their exceptional playing skills, and the two quickly become fast friends. After helping their Army team to win all of its games, Doc and Glenn are dubbed the "Touchdown Twins" and are voted All-Americans. When the press names Doc the nation's top collegiate player, his widowed mother and sister celebrate his achievements back in Bishopville. Mrs. Blanchard then tells one of Doc's female admirers about her son's relationship with his father, Dr. Felix "Big Doc" Blanchard: As a young boy, "Little Doc" is encouraged in his football playing by his father, the town physician. Years later, after Pearl Harbor, Dr. Blanchard, a West Point graduate, urges Doc to enroll at the Academy, but Doc is denied admittance. Anxious to serve, Doc enlists in the infantry and is sent to Texas for basic training. As he is about to complete his training, Doc is appointed to the Academy and rushes to Bishopville to tell his father. When he arrives home, however, his sister sadly informs him that their father has just died. Back at West Point, Doc and Glenn enjoy Recognition Day, the first day on which plebes are allowed to talk with cadets and girls. In 1945, Army's football team, led by Glenn, Doc and the fast-talking Mileaway McCarty, once again ends their season undefeated. At a dance, Glenn introduces Doc to his mother, who proudly recalls her son's first days at West Point: Although Glenn is appointed to the Academy in 1943, he is soon dismissed, or "found," because of low grades. Glenn is advised that he may reapply in a year, but, his confidence shaken, he feels unsure about his future. After talking with his understanding mother, who has conferred with Coach Blaik, however, Glenn decides to return to California to study and successfully reapplies in 1944. Back at the party, Mileaway stuns his teammates when he announces that he is leaving the Academy in order to marry his girl friend. Later, Mileaway reveals to Coach Blaik that he wants a legal way to leave the Academy, which forbids cadets from marrying, so that he can start a lucrative professional football career. Disgusted by Mileaway's greed, Coach Blaik refuses to allow him to play in the last game, and Mileaway is ostracized by his teammates. Shortly after the start of the 1946 season, Doc is injured and Oklahoma Cutler, a hard-working defensive player, is "found." With the loss of three of its most effective players, Army now struggles to win its games. During a particularly tough match with Michigan, the still injured Doc insists on playing and leads Army to victory. Later, Doc and Glenn apply for a four-month furlough from the Academy so that they can play professional football in 1947. After the hard-fought Army-Navy game, Doc and Glenn learn that their request has been denied. Tempted by the instant riches of professional football, the cadets contemplate leaving the Academy before their last year. Glenn and Doc's football future is debated hotly in the press, and the young men begin to feel the crush of public scrutiny. Mileaway and Oklahoma, who now plays professional ball, meanwhile, have invited Glenn and Doc to a hotel room to discuss their options with two men they believe are professional football representatives. When he discovers that the men are actually gamblers and are plotting to create a scandal to force Doc and Glenn out of West Point, Mileaway becomes enraged. His sense of loyalty finally aroused, Mileaway beats the men, knocking them out just before Glenn and Doc arrive. Later, after Coach Blaik is named coach of the year, Glenn and Doc search their souls and finally choose to stay at West Point and become Lt. Davis and Lt. Blanchard.

Film Details

Also Known As
On Parade
Release Date
Oct 4, 1947
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 2 Oct 1947
Production Company
Bro-Rog Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Film Classics, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's working title was On Parade. According to the War Department's Pictorial Branch, records contained at NARS, a treatment by Margaret Mary Howard and Tom Reed was titled "The Big Rabble." The opening credits include narrated newsreel footage of graduation day at the United States Military Academy, June 1947. In the footage, General Dwight D. Eisenhower is seen presenting Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard with their diplomas. Tom Reed's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and narrated by Tom Reed." Reed's narration is heard intermittently throughout the film. Newsreel footage of various Army football games from 1944 to 1946, including the 1946 "Army-Navy" game, as well as stock footage of West Point, is also used throughout the picture.
       Documents from War Department records indicate that Charles Rogers, the head of Bro-Rog Pictures, originally wanted to film June Week at West Point, but was denied permission because of conflicts with another West Point based film, Paramount's Beyond Glory . Although Davis' father Ralph solicited cooperation from General Maxwell Taylor of the United States Military Academy in February 1947, various officials at the War Department, including Col. D. R. Kerr, the head of the pictorial section, feared that, as Paramount had previously requested permission from them to film at the Academy, the studio would become upset if a rival production was also allowed to film there. Another official, Stuart Palmer, a former screenwriter, complained that the Rogers' story was a "low-grade B picture," "written with syrup instead of ink" and that the only "good that would come from making this picture would be to enrich Mr. Rogers and Cadets Blanchard and Davis." Palmer officially denied Rogers permission to film at West Point on May 14, 1947. After much protest from Rogers, who accused the War Department of discrminating against smaller production companies, however, Kerr agreed to allow Rogers access to unclassified Army-owned film footage.
       As depicted in the film, Felix "Doc" Blanchard, Jr. was reared in South Carolina and entered West Point in 1944. Glenn Davis grew up in Claremont, CA, and started West Point in 1943. A fullback, Blanchard was known for his power running, while Davis made his reputation as a breakaway runner. Blanchard was nicknamed "Mr. Inside," in complement to Glenn Davis' nickname, "Mr. Outside." During West Point's three undefeated seasons, from 1944 to 1946, Blanchard and Davis scored a combined fifty-one touchdowns. In his junior year, Blanchard won the coveted Heisman Trophy as best college football player in the country and the Sullivan Award as best amateur athlete. Davis won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year. After graduating from West Point, Davis joined the Los Angeles Rams professional football team for the 1950-51 season. Blanchard remained in the Army, retiring as a colonel in 1971. Bill Stern, Harry Wismer and Tom Harmon were real-life sports announcers. Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items add Frank Pershing, Franklin Parker and Arthur and Allen Sacks to the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed.