The Long Gray Line | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Long Gray Line 

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John Ford's first and only completed film in 'Scope also happens to be one of his major neglected works of the 50s. A biopic of epic proportions (138 minutes) about West Point athletic instructor Marty Maher (Tyrone Power), who failed as a student at the academy but stayed on to become a much-beloved figure, this 1955 film is an almost paradigmatic example of the "victory in defeat" theme that comprises much of Ford's oeuvre. Adapted by Edward Hope from Maher's autobiography, Bring Up the Brass, the film is rich with nostalgia, family feeling, and sentimentality. It's given density by a superb supporting cast (including Maureen O'Hara at her most luminous, Donald Crisp, Ward Bond, and Harry Carey Jr.) and a kind of mysticism that, as in How Green Was My Valley, makes the past seem even more alive than the present. Not for everyone, but a work that vibrates with tenderness and emotion. A Technicolor, adapted 16-millimeter 'Scope print will be screened. LaSalle Theatre, 4901 W. Irving Park, Saturday, June 29, 8:00, 904-5549.

--Jonathan Rosenbaum

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