Found THE GLORY GUYS on TH!S the other day and tivo'd it. Finally watched it....remembering that I saw it when I was in college....probably the last time. Disappointing and not very good as the leads could have been much better. Tom Tryon is okay …he was a fan favorite as Disney’s Texas John Slaughter….but Harve Presnell is totally out of his element and totally lost in the saddle as an Army scout that looks like he needs a back brace to sit up straight….and that wig? Nuf said. At any moment I expected ol’ Harve to try and sit tall in the saddle and start singing THEY CALL THE WIND MARIA(H) (Found it spelled both ways.)
Saving grace is Slim Pickens as good as ever and maybe even better. Just love that guy…..even when he side-kicked B-Western and the last of the singing cowboys, Rex Allen. James Caan had a supporting role but played an Irishman with an irritating accent. What almost caught me by surprise was that it was written by Sam Peckinpah....but then I remembered he was supposed to have directed it and was replaced by Arthur Laven of "Levy, Gardner, Laven" fame. (Apparently Sam wrote the script early on from the novel THE DICE OF GOD which was a fictional version of Custer at The Little Bighorn, while still doing scripts for Gunmoke and before he started "working" for LGL and then later sold in to them.)
Between 1965 and into 1966 Sam's money situation became so bad that he actually sold his rights to THE WESTERNER to Dick Powell's FOUR STAR ENTERPRISES for a measly $10,000. AND, according to Garner Simmons in his excellent book on Sam, "PECKINPAH A Portrait in Montage," the only project to be produced during this time with Sam's name on it was a cavalry western THE GLORY GUYS which was owned by LGL." Sam hated the movie as directed by Laven (for many reasons) but mainly because he felt the final film shifts the focus away from the Indian-whites conflict promulgated by a Custer-like General (Andrew Duggan) and concentrates on a love triangle involving a captain (Tryon), a scout (Presnell) and a fallen woman (Senta Berger). Simmons sums it up thusly..."It remains at best another example of the lack of communication between Peckinpah and Levy, Gardner, Laven" I agree 100 percent with Sam on this one....the love triangle totally, and I do mean totally, messes up a great western script that had a lot of potential going in.
One thing I did not remember is that Riz Ortolani did the score, and sadly to say it is very disappointing. Even though Riz wrote the music between scoring several spaghetti westerns his music here is pedestrian and sounds like any typical 50’s to 60’s Hollywood western score. Nothing to write home about, or to go off humming. If Ortolani had done a spaghetti score or at least aluded to one it would have made the movie at least some-what more tolerable. Thanks goodness when a movie is tivo’d you can fast forward through a lot of the drek.