Archive for August 3rd, 2015

no greater glory

by Sam Juliano

The opening scene of Frank Borgaze’s pre-code era anti-war film No Greater Glory is a battle montage depicting a legion of soldiers, armed with bayonets engaging in combat.  A man dressed in civilian clothes suddenly declares that war is a useless exercise and that he will fight no longer.  The episode, taken from Lewis Milestone’s classic All Quiet on the Western Front, is a powerful one, and it wholly encapsulates the theme of Borzage’s film.  The subsequent scene of a teacher reading the patriotic riot act to his students -which recalls both the Milestone and a much later German film The Bridge- illustrates the role of adults as instigators, prime motivators in the horrors that were to claim the lives of thousands of innocent European school children in the name of a foolhardy and unattainable status of patriotic glorification.  Of course No Greater Glory like its celebrated predecessor offers up adults as symbols in the  madness populated by kids who realize the horror of their aggression far too late.  It is rather curious that the classic children’s novel The Paul Street Boys, by Ferenc Molnarupon which No Greater Glory is based, was written seven years before the start of the First World War, though it is a generally known fact that the society of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was largely militaristic.  Molnar wrote the famed Liliom and other acclaimed works that were adapted for the stage and cinema before fleeing to the United States in 1939 at the time anti-Semitism was growing in his country.  The screenwriter of No Greater Glory was another Jew that took up residence stateside.   As Borzage was a fervent anti-war advocate, he was a huge fan of both the aforementioned Western Front, released four years earlier and the 1925 silent classic The Big Parade, of which are powerful statements of disenchantment and lost innocence.

The film depicts two groups of boys who engage in a domestic feud over a vacant lumber yard, which serves as their private playground.  The Paul Street Boys are the younger combatants, and they feign having a military organization.  The youngest and seemingly frailest boy is named Nemecsak.  He’s enthusiastic, loyal and determined to rise from  his capacity as the sole “private” among a fraternity of officers.  A unanimous vote confirms the election of Boka as President, but his closest friend Gereb enviously turns traitor, an act that paves the way for the old group -the Red Shirts’- commander Feri Ats to seize the Paul Street Boys’ flag.  The fearless Nemecsak returns later in the evening to recapture the flag but falls out of a tree during a Red Shirts’ assembly.  The boy remains firm and defiant -qualities that impress Feri Ats- but punishment in the form of a dunking is meted out.  This seemingly innocuous castigation later has fateful consequences.  In any event the boy’s resilience greatly impresses Feri Ats, who sets the boy free with a complete measure of obeisance.  The Paul Street Boys are equally moved by Nemecsak’s valiance and award him an officer’s cap at the same time they disbar Gerab for his treachery.  Shortly thereafter Feri Ata and Boka come to agreement on a full-scale brawl, with possession of the Paul Street Boys flag to determine the winner.  Gereb’s father arrives at the lot, and insists on an explanation for his son’s ejection from the group.  Despite Gereb’s treason, Nemecsak stands by his friend, keeping the truth hidden.  Gereb rejoins the group and volunteers to take up position on the front line. (more…)

Read Full Post »



Cecil the Lion

by Sam Juliano

All of the sudden we have approached the final leg of the summer journey with the dog days of August now in full gear, and the fall season well within an earshot.  Of course the eighth month of the year is a prime vacation period, and many in our midst are preparing to travel.  The baseball season playoffs are beginning to take some kind of shape, and as a Yankees fan I am most pleased with the way things are developing.  The summer school program I have been teaching since late June ends this coming Friday, August 7th, leaving a bit more than three weeks for a summer respite.  Lucille also has approximately the same time off until she reports back in near the end of the month.

The Childhood/Adolescent Films Countdown continues to move forward most impressively as the half way point has nearly been reached.  The page views and comment totals are quite fine, and as always first-class writing has been published by numerous bloggers.  I want to thank everyone involved for their quality submissions on every front.  The project will continue into October.

Lucille and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on Wednesday (July 29) by taking in the new Broadway musical Amazing Grace, which was staged at the Nederlander Theater on 41st Street off Seventh Avenue.  Unfortunately this highly derivative work (Les Miserables) showcased a weak and unmemorable score and nothing special in the “book” department.  The sets and the performances though were fine enough.  We had a better time having dinner at the Red Lobster right around the corner.  Certainly a memorable evening regardless of what we thought of the show.

On Monday night we watched COURT at the Film Forum, meeting up with our longtime friend Kaleem Hasan.  The film, an unapologetic indictment of the Indian judicial system, rates a solid grade.  Once again I rewatched some blu rays and DVDs, a few attached to the countdown: (more…)

Read Full Post »