Ten Gentlemen from West Point


1h 42m 1942

Brief Synopsis

Among those who are fighting to have Congress re-establish the military academy at West Point in the beginning of the nineteenth century is a young Washington socialite, Carolyn Bainbridge (Maureen O'Hara). Congress resolves to revive the Academy on a one-year trial basis. Major Sam Carter (Laird Cregar), a martinet who doesn't believe a college can produce real fighting men, is made the Commandant, and determines to make soldiers - or failures - out of the small band of cadets, by enforcing stringent disciplinary action. Among the cadets are Howard Shelton (John Sutton), Carolyn's fiancee, and Dawson (George Montgomery), a Kentucky frontiersman. There is bad blood between the two from the start, and matters are worsened when Dawson falls in love with Carolyn. Many of the cadets resign, under the discouraging conditions and grueling punishment that is part of Carter's plan to make the school hard and the exercises difficult, and the number of cadets left is down to ten. Word arrives that the Indian chief Tecumseh (Noble Johnson) has gone on the warpath, and Carter is ordered to take part in quelling the rebellion, and to include the cadets along with the regular Bombadiers. Shelton, on patrol, is shot at by an Indian, and hot-headedly leaves his post in pursuit. Dawson leaves to bring him back followed by Major Carter who is captured by the Indians. Using tactics learned at West Point, the small band of cadets attack and demoralize the much larger Indian force, and succeed in rescuing Carter, and Dawson is wounded. Carter is grateful for the actions taken by the band, but says that Shelton and Dawson cannot remain as cadets since they had violated the rules by leaving their posts, and would be a bad precedent for future cadets. Carolyn has come to the Point to marry the unsuspecting Dawson, who thought she loved Shelton.

Film Details

Also Known As
Salute to Heroes, School for Soldiers
Release Date
Jun 26, 1942
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Jun 1942; Los Angeles opening: 25 Jun 1942
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Sherwood Forest, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,180ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

In the early 1800s, Congress debates the advisibility of re-establishing a military training academy at West Point, where officers were trained during the Revolutionary War. One of the academy's strongest supporters is flirtatious Carolyn Bainbridge, whose father also believed in West Point. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky persuades the others to fund the academy for a year, and the first group of cadets assemble. Among them is Carolyn's aristocratic fiancé, Howard Shelton, who is attending purely for her sake, and Kentucky woodsman Joe Dawson, who is alight with patriotic ferver. The school's commander is Major Sam Carter, a life-long military man, who does not believe that a good soldier can be created in the classroom. His resentment of the academy is shared by the regular soldiers stationed there, including leader Scully, but civilian teachers Florimond Massey, Jared Danforth and Alden Brown are enthusiastic. Carolyn follows the cadets to the fort and lives in a nearby tavern, which is run by Mrs. Thompson and her servant, Benny Havens. Soon after their arrival, the cadets visit the tavern, where Joe mistakes Carolyn for a serving girl. Intrigued by Joe's masculinity and good nature, Carolyn keeps up the charade. The students begin their studies and are particularly interested in Massey's lectures on strategy, although Carter cancels the class in favor of forced marching. The cadets have several run-ins with the soldiers, including a brutal game of Indian lacrosse, and Carter continutes to drive them hard in the hope of forcing them to quit. Meanwhile, Joe learns Carolyn's true identity and that she is engaged to Howard, and believes that she was deliberately teasing him. Carolyn tries to explain her true feelings, but Joe refuses to listen. Distressed over Carter's harshness to the cadets, Carolyn writes an anonymous letter to Congress asserting that he is incompetent. Later, Carter demands that the cadets reveal the culprit and when they do not, orders them to "ride the cannon." The notorious punishment requires the men to sit astride large cannons as they are dragged by horses across rough terrain, and anyone who falls off will be dismissed from the academy. As night falls, only ten men, including Howard and Joe, are left, but they are determined to stay on the cannons until the end. Howard is shamed by Joe into taking pride in being a cadet, and the ten men endure the punishment throughout the night. In the morning, Carter receives orders to report with his men to General William Henry Harrison in the Indiana territory. Before leaving, Joe again rebuffs Carolyn's romantic overtures by saying that they are too dissimilar. As soon as the soldiers and ten cadets arrive at the fort, Harrison puts Carter in charge, as he leaves with his own men to seek out Tecumseh, their Indian opponent. Carter is then kidnapped by Tecumseh's men and taken to the Indian encampment, but the cadets determine to rescue him. Scully is reluctant to take their orders, but Joe and Howard take charge and organize the small contingent. Using strategy taught by Massey, the cadets succeed in rescuing Carter by tricking the Indians into thinking that they are surrounded. Joe is wounded in the leg, and although Carter, who has changed his mind about the cadets, later urges him to return to West Point and accept his commission, Joe refuses because he is no longer perfectly fit. Carolyn arrives at the fort and insists on marrying Joe, despite his continued objections. She stows away in his wagon as he leaves the fort, and Joe happily surrenders to his fate. Back at the academy, Carter praises all the cadets, including Howard, as they graduate and receive their certificates of proficiency.

Film Details

Also Known As
Salute to Heroes, School for Soldiers
Release Date
Jun 26, 1942
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Jun 1942; Los Angeles opening: 25 Jun 1942
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Sherwood Forest, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,180ft (11 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1942

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Salute to Heroes and School for Soldiers. As depicted in the film, an important military base was constructed at West Point, NY during the Revolutionary War, and on July 4, 1802, an act of Congress formally opened the United States Military Academy at the site. Although the academy initially specialized in training military engineers, its four-year program grew to include various specialties of military science, humanities and social sciences. Many noted military leaders have graduated from the school, which first admitted women cadets in 1976.
       The following information comes from Hollywood Reporter news items and studio press releases: Lou Edelman was originally assigned to produce the picture, but was replaced by William Perlberg after the expiration of his contract with the studio and his departure for Columbia. Although Hollywood Reporter news items stated that Tom Reed and Dale Van Every had joined the studio writing staff to work on the film's screenplay, the extent of their contribution to the completed picture has not determined.
       On July 22, 1941, Hollywood Reporter announced that Randolph Scott had replaced Tyrone Power in the "top male role" in the film, and an August 1941 studio press release added that Scott would be portraying "Major Sam Carter." In August 1941, Henry Fonda and John Payne were set as Scott's co-stars, and in November 1941, Victor Mature was scheduled to play one of the leading roles. In mid-December 1941, however, Mature was instead cast in My Gal Sal. John Sutton replaced John Payne in mid-January 1941 when illness and retakes for To the Shores of Tripoli prevented Payne from reporting to the set of Ten Gentlemen from West Point. Sara Allgood was replaced by Esther Dale after being "held by another role." O. Z. Whitehead was cast in the picture, but withdrew in order to enlist in the Army. Although the studio had sought Barton MacLane for a top role, he does not appear in the completed picture. William Tracy and Jill Esmond are included in the cast by some contemporary sources, but their appearances in the released film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter production charts list Chester Gore as the film's art director for the first month of production, although Richard Day and Nathan Juran are listed as the art directors in the onscreen credits. A February 13, 1942 Hollywood Reporter production chart lists Robert Bischoff as the film editor, although only James B. Clark is listed in the onscreen credits. The extent of Bischoff's contribution to the picture, if any, has not been determined.
       The studio had originally intended to shoot the West Point sequences on location in Monterey, but instead constructed a replica of the academy in Sherwood Forest, CA, due to military activity at Monterey. The set, which cost approximately $35,000, was left standing for use in Twentieth Century-Fox's The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942). According to a May 25, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item, the picture was to have a preview at West Point the following day. The film received favorable notices, and several reviews praised the brief epilogue, during which portraits of West Point alumni such as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, George Armstrong Custer, John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur are displayed. The production, which marked the screen debut of actor and future director Blake Edwards, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography (b&w).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1942

Released in United States 1942