Glory (1989)

R | 122 mins | Drama | 14 December 1989

Director:

Edward Zwick

Writer:

Kevin Jarre

Producer:

Freddie Fields

Cinematographer:

Freddie Francis

Production Designer:

Norman Garwood

Production Company:

Tri-Star Pictures
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HISTORY

The following written statement appears before the title in opening credits: “Robert Gould Shaw, the son of wealthy Boston abolitionists, was 23 years old when he enlisted to fight in the War between the States. He wrote home regularly, telling his parents of life in the gathering Army of the Potomac. These letters are collected in the Houghton Library of Harvard University.” End credits are preceded by two title cards reading: “The 54th Massachusetts lost over half its number in the assault on Ft. Wagner. The supporting white brigades also suffered heavily before withdrawing. The fort was never taken”; “As word of their bravery spread, Congress at last authorized the raising of black troops throughout the Union. Over 180,000 volunteered. President Lincoln credited these men of color with helping turn the tide of the war.”
       End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to extend special thanks to: Patricia Broderick; Shelby Foote; Richard F. Snow, American Heritage; Mayor John P. Rousakis and the citizens of Savannah, Georgia, Mr. Tom Kaufman, Special Assistant to the Mayor, Mr. Arthur Mendoza, City Manager; the Jekyll Island Authority and staff; Georgia Department of Natural Resources, J. Leonard Ledbetter, Commissioner; Georgia Film Commission, Mr. Norman Bielowicz, Mr. Mike Riley; the State of Florida; Wesley Buford; Ardie Ivy, Vice Chancellor, UCLA”; “The producers gratefully acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the thousands of living history re-enactors from 20 states whose donation of time, equipment and Civil War combat expertise made this film possible. Ft. McIntosh, Dr. Ray Giron; Historical Impressions, Inc., Dale Fetzer; the National Park Service, William Gwaltney; Old Fort Jackson, Savannah, GA., Scott Smith; 1st Arkansas Regt. of African Descent, Ron Nichols; ... More Less

The following written statement appears before the title in opening credits: “Robert Gould Shaw, the son of wealthy Boston abolitionists, was 23 years old when he enlisted to fight in the War between the States. He wrote home regularly, telling his parents of life in the gathering Army of the Potomac. These letters are collected in the Houghton Library of Harvard University.” End credits are preceded by two title cards reading: “The 54th Massachusetts lost over half its number in the assault on Ft. Wagner. The supporting white brigades also suffered heavily before withdrawing. The fort was never taken”; “As word of their bravery spread, Congress at last authorized the raising of black troops throughout the Union. Over 180,000 volunteered. President Lincoln credited these men of color with helping turn the tide of the war.”
       End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to extend special thanks to: Patricia Broderick; Shelby Foote; Richard F. Snow, American Heritage; Mayor John P. Rousakis and the citizens of Savannah, Georgia, Mr. Tom Kaufman, Special Assistant to the Mayor, Mr. Arthur Mendoza, City Manager; the Jekyll Island Authority and staff; Georgia Department of Natural Resources, J. Leonard Ledbetter, Commissioner; Georgia Film Commission, Mr. Norman Bielowicz, Mr. Mike Riley; the State of Florida; Wesley Buford; Ardie Ivy, Vice Chancellor, UCLA”; “The producers gratefully acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the thousands of living history re-enactors from 20 states whose donation of time, equipment and Civil War combat expertise made this film possible. Ft. McIntosh, Dr. Ray Giron; Historical Impressions, Inc., Dale Fetzer; the National Park Service, William Gwaltney; Old Fort Jackson, Savannah, GA., Scott Smith; 1st Arkansas Regt. of African Descent, Ron Nichols; 4th U.S. Colored Troops, Mark Edwards; 7th Illinois Cavalry, Inc., Dr. Karl Luthin, DVM; 54th Mass. Vol. Infty & Sponsors: Univ. of Central Arkansas, Ohio State University, C.J.S. Film Studios, Phoenix, AZ, The Blue-Grey Army, Artillery Battalion, Steve Lillard; American Civil War Commemorative Committee, Inc.; Napoleonic Tactics, Inc.; Participant Re-enactors of the Gettysburg Event.”
       After researching the story of Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment extensively, Kevin Jarre wrote the screenplay for Glory in four weeks, according to an 18 Jan 1990 LAT article. Lincoln Kirstein, Jarre’s friend and author of one of the film’s literary sources, Lay this Laurel (New York, 1973), gave the script to Merchant Ivory Productions, but the company deemed the project “well beyond their scale.” Bruce Beresford subsequently received the script from an agent and signed on to direct, as announced in an 11 Dec 1986 DV item which referred to the film by its working title, Lay this Laurel. Beresford brought producer Freddie Fields onto the project, which was set up at Columbia Pictures. However, Beresford later dropped out and Columbia lost interest, partly because a black historian from the University of Virginia accused Jarre’s screenplay of racism and historical inaccuracy.
       For the next three years, Freddie Fields personally invested $1 million in the project, as noted in various contemporary sources including the 11 Jul 1989 LAHExam. Studios rejected Glory based on its lack of audience appeal and estimated production costs of $35-40 million, despite Fields’s insistence that the picture could be made for $15-20 million. When director Edward Zwick signed on to the project roughly two years before its release, he agreed that the film could be made on a lower budget. The final production cost was cited as $18 million by items in the 22 Dec 1989 HR, 28 Mar 1989 DV, and 28 Dec 1989 NYT.
       To convince Tri-Star of the project’s viability, Edward Zwick filmed a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, PA, and used the footage to create a nine-minute presentation for the studio. The filming was referred to as “second-unit photography” in production notes in AMPAS library files, which noted that the shoot began 4 Jul 1988. A 13 Feb 1989 HR news brief further explained that the Gettysburg re-enactment footage was used in the completed film to depict the Battle of Antietam.
       Various contemporary sources, including a 7 Apr 1989 HR item and production notes, stated that principal photography began 9 Feb 1989 in Savannah, GA, which stood in for 1860s Boston, MA. There, the Central of Georgia Railroad yard doubled as Readville Camp, the Hugh W. Mercer House provided interiors for “Robert Gould Shaw’s” Boston home, and residences on the Intracoastal Waterway stood in for the town of Beaufort, SC. Other locations included Rose Dhu Island, Myrtle Grove Plantation, and Wormsloe Historic Site. In late Mar 1989, production moved to Jekyll Island, where a reproduction of Fort Wagner was built over three months. Filming was set to conclude in McDonough, GA, a rural city near Atlanta that stood in for Antietam, in early Apr 1989. A 27 Oct 1989 HR item stated that $1 million worth of filming also took place in Massachusetts, where exteriors were filmed in Ipswich, Old Sturbridge Village, Beacon Hill and South Boston.
       Although a 13 Dec 1988 LAHExam brief reported that Olympian Carl Lewis would perform in the film, he was not mentioned in other publicity materials and receives no onscreen credit. The 18 Jan 1990 LAT noted that Kevin Jarre appeared in an uncredited role as a soldier who picks a fight with “Trip” and yells “Give ‘em hell, 54th” before the Fort Wagner battle scene.
       A 10 Dec 1989 premiere benefitting the AFI was set to take place at New York City’s Ziegfield Theatre, according to a 29 Nov 1989 HR item. Another benefit screening was scheduled two nights later at the Apollo Theater in New York, with proceeds going to the Boys Choir of Harlem. The film opened on a platform release in three theaters in New York, Los Angeles, CA, and Toronto, Canada, and took in the highest per-screen average of any film in its opening weekend, grossing $21,220 per screen, according to the “Hollywood Report” column in the 21 Dec 1989 HR. A Feb 1990 Box review stated that the picture had taken in $177,193 in box-office receipts in two weekends. The opening was set to expand to roughly 300 theaters on 12 Jan 1990; however, Fields noted in the 21 Dec 1989 HR that the film’s early success might lead to a wider release on 500-600 screens. One month later, a 22 Jan 1990 DV brief reported that by 8 Feb 1990, Glory would be showing on 900 screens.
       As stated in production notes, the fimmakers took great pains to achieve historical accuracy. Robert Gould Shaw’s own silver candlesticks were used as props, and military uniforms were painstakingly researched and executed – even the unseen underside of Matthew Broderick’s cap was “dyed the perfect Massachusetts medium green.” 1,500 Civil War re-enactors employed as extras also ensured authenticity and coached others in “battle and crowd performance.” An 8 Jan 1990 Long Beach Press-Telegram item noted a couple of minor flaws in the finished film, detected by firearms expert Russ Pritchard and flag collector Stan Smullen. During a scene in which soldiers are issued Enfield rifled muskets, the weapons’ serial numbers are announced; however, Pritchard pointed out that such firearms had no serial numbers. Smullen noticed that the 54th Regiment’s American flags had sewn-on stars, while the real-life flags had painted-on stars. According to a 5 Jun 1991 DV news item, Tri-Star and RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video donated items used in the film, including two flags from the 54th Regiment – one hand-painted and one hand-sewn – to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
       Critical reception was largely positive. The 11 Dec 1989 DV review called the film “a stirring and long overdue tribute,” and the 14 Dec 1989 LAT review stated, “Not since John Ford has a film maker created such dramatic large-scale Civil War battle scenes.” In a mixed review, the 12 Dec 1989 HR suggested that the picture would be better suited as a telefilm or a “’Masterpiece Theatre’-type presentation,” but praised the acting, especially Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman’s performances. Washington received an Academy Award for Actor in a Supporting Role as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. The film also won Academy Awards in the categories of Cinematography and Sound. Academy Award nominations were received for Art Direction and Film Editing, and Golden Globe Award nominations included Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and Best Original Score – Motion Picture. The film was ranked thirty-first on AFI’s 2006 100 Years…100 Cheers list of the most inspiring films of all time.
       A 17 Jan 1990 DV news item reported that the Los Angeles Film Teachers Association gave its second annual Filmmaker of Courage Award to Zwick and Fields for Glory, which also received a Special Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement from the Academy of Family Films and Family Television, as noted in a 30 Jan 1990 HR brief. According to the 21 Jun 1990 HR, Seiniger Advertising won the best movie trailer CLIO Award for the film.
       A 15 Jun 1990 Publishers Weekly news brief reported that sales of both One Gallant Rush by Peter Burchard and Lay this Laurel by Lincoln Kirstein were boosted by the film’s release. A 15 Dec 1989 reprinting of One Gallant Rush coincided with the limited opening on 14 Dec 1989, and by Mar 1990, the 40,000 copies initially printed had sold out. The book’s publisher, St. Martin’s, collaborated with Tri-Star, printing a “special press edition” specifically for the studio’s publicity kits.
       According to a 3 Dec 1989 LAT news brief, a $2 million educational and promotional campaign, including an essay contest, was sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company. The campaign provided hundreds of thousands of “educational kits,” including home video versions of Glory and written materials, to schools ranging from elementary through college level. To commemorate Black History Month in Feb 1991, Pepsi-Cola Co. sent over 20,000 specially edited videocassettes of Glory, along with educational packets, lesson planners and movie posters, to schools and community organizations, as reported in a 6 Feb 1991 HR brief. The 11 May 1994 HR later reported that parents in Ross, OH, had asked a local middle school stop showing the film due to its R-rating.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Feb 1990.
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Daily Variety
11 Dec 1986.
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Daily Variety
28 Mar 1989.
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Daily Variety
11 Dec 1989.
---
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1990.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1990.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1989
p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1989
p. 4, 71.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1989
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1989
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 1994.
---
LAHExam
13 Dec 1988.
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LAHExam
11 Jul 1989.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
8 Jan 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1989
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1990
Section F, p. 3.
New York Times
26 Mar 1989
Section A, p. 1.
New York Times
14 Dec 1989
p. 15.
New York Times
28 Dec 1989
Section C, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly
15 Jun 1990.
---
Variety
13 Dec 1989
pp. 30-31.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
A Freddie Fields Production
An Edward Zwick Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
2d unit dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
"B" cam op
"B" cam asst
"B" cam asst
Still photog
Spec photog
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Best boy, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Loc lighting and grip equip supplied by
Cam cars and cam cranes provided by
Panavision cam equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Digital ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Drapery
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Sign painter
Labor foreman
Greens foreman
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Men's key costumers
Women's key costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
Founder/Conductor, The Boys Choir of Harlem
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd des and supv
Foley supv
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
ADR supv
ADR group coord
ADR mixer
Digital sd eff rec
Digital sd eff rec
Digital sd eff rec
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Dubbing rec
Dubbing rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Sd mixer, 2d unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff supv
Spec eff supv
Spec eff supv
Spec visual eff by
Spec visual eff by
Title des
Title des
Titles & opticals by
MAKEUP
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup dept supv
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup eff created by
Makeup eff crew, Kevin Yagher Productions, Inc.
Makeup eff crew, Kevin Yagher Productions, Inc.
Makeup eff crew, Kevin Yagher Productions, Inc.
Makeup eff crew, Kevin Yagher Productions, Inc.
Makeup eff crew, Kevin Yagher Productions, Inc.
Makeup eff crew, Kevin Yagher Productions, Inc.
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Battle consultant
Scr supv
Asst unit prod mgr
Post prod supv
Weapons
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod secy, Georgia
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Pub relations
Asst to Mr. Fields
Asst to Mr. Zwick
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Craftservice
Craftservice
First aid
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Boss wrangler
Casting asst
Casting asst
Atlanta casting by
Extras casting coord
Scr supv, 2d unit
Environmental consultants and dune restoration
STAND INS
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stuntplayer
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the books Lay This Laurel by Lincoln Kirstein (New York, 1973) and One Gallant Rush by Peter Burchard (New York, 1965), and the letters of Robert Gould Shaw.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Lay This Laurel
Release Date:
14 December 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 December 1989
New York opening: week of 14 December 1989
Production Date:
4 July 1988 in Gettysburg, PA
9 February--early April 1989 in Georgia and Massachusetts
Copyright Claimant:
ORIX Film Enterprises Number 1
Copyright Date:
2 February 1990
Copyright Number:
PA452565
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
122
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29658
SYNOPSIS

Union Army Captain Robert Gould Shaw is wounded in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862. At the medical tent, Shaw learns that President Abraham Lincoln will soon issue an Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the South. When he is sent home to Boston, Massachusetts, the twenty-five-year-old Shaw attends a party thrown by his abolitionist parents. There, he meets former slave and famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, and Governor John Albion Andrew, who offers Shaw a promotion to colonel and the opportunity to lead the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first to be comprised of African American soldiers. Shaw accepts the promotion and invites his friend, Cabot Forbes, to be his second-in-command. Thomas Searles, an African American childhood friend of Shaw’s, volunteers to join them as well. The 54th Regiment settles at Readville Camp on 27 November, 1862, where white soldiers tease the black volunteers upon arrival. The bookish Searles joins several other black soldiers in a tent, including Trip, a rebellious runaway slave from Tennessee who nicknames Searles “Snowflake,” and John Rawlins, who formerly worked for the Union cause by clearing dead bodies from battlefields. At lunch, Searles approaches Cabot Forbes, but Colonel Shaw interrupts and forbids Forbes from fraternizing with any soldiers. In a letter to his mother, he remarks that the black soldiers learn very quickly, work hard, and seem to be able to relax easily during their free time. When Shaw receives a proclamation from the Confederacy, he reads it to the regiment, informing them that the Confederacy plans to kill any uniformed African American captives and all white officers who command them. The men are offered honorable discharge, but the young ... +


Union Army Captain Robert Gould Shaw is wounded in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862. At the medical tent, Shaw learns that President Abraham Lincoln will soon issue an Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the South. When he is sent home to Boston, Massachusetts, the twenty-five-year-old Shaw attends a party thrown by his abolitionist parents. There, he meets former slave and famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, and Governor John Albion Andrew, who offers Shaw a promotion to colonel and the opportunity to lead the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first to be comprised of African American soldiers. Shaw accepts the promotion and invites his friend, Cabot Forbes, to be his second-in-command. Thomas Searles, an African American childhood friend of Shaw’s, volunteers to join them as well. The 54th Regiment settles at Readville Camp on 27 November, 1862, where white soldiers tease the black volunteers upon arrival. The bookish Searles joins several other black soldiers in a tent, including Trip, a rebellious runaway slave from Tennessee who nicknames Searles “Snowflake,” and John Rawlins, who formerly worked for the Union cause by clearing dead bodies from battlefields. At lunch, Searles approaches Cabot Forbes, but Colonel Shaw interrupts and forbids Forbes from fraternizing with any soldiers. In a letter to his mother, he remarks that the black soldiers learn very quickly, work hard, and seem to be able to relax easily during their free time. When Shaw receives a proclamation from the Confederacy, he reads it to the regiment, informing them that the Confederacy plans to kill any uniformed African American captives and all white officers who command them. The men are offered honorable discharge, but the young colonel is heartened to find the next day that no one has opted to leave. Sergeant Major Mulcahy, a tough Irishman, is brought in to train the men. One day, when Mulcahy kicks the exhausted Searles, Shaw calls him aside, but the sergeant major convinces him that his tough manner is necessary for the soldiers’ growth. The men receive Enfield rifled muskets and Forbes teaches them how to use the weapons. Interrupting the lesson, Shaw takes Forbes’s pistol and shoots into the air repeatedly to simulate battle as a timid soldier, Jupiter Sharts, takes target practice. Later, Forbes accuses Shaw of being too hard on the men, but Shaw defends his strict attitude, insisting he has the soldiers’ best interests at heart. Although the men are sorely in need of new shoes, the quartermaster believes they will never be allowed to fight and explains to Shaw that shoes are reserved for soldiers going into battle. With his feet badly wounded by wearing worn-down shoes, Trip sneaks out of camp in search of new ones but is caught. Shaw orders him to be whipped for desertion but winces at the sight of Trip’s exposed back, heavily scarred by lashings he received as a slave. Nevertheless, Mulcahy flogs him in front of the entire regiment, and Trip sheds a tear while glaring at Shaw. Later, the colonel learns from Rawlins that Trip had gone in search of shoes, and the next day, he returns to the quartermaster’s office and demands footwear for his soldiers. Shoes arrive, along with pay stubs. However, Shaw makes an announcement that the army has decided to pay its African American soldiers only ten dollars per month, while white soldiers receive a monthly stipend of thirteen dollars. Trip protests the unequal pay and convinces others to join him in ripping up their pay stubs. Shaw stands in solidarity with the men, stating that the white officers will take no pay as well. Uniforms arrive, and soon after, the regiment marches through Boston in a parade presided over by Governor Andrew and Frederick Douglass. Finally heading to war, the men travel by boat to South Carolina. They are joined by Pierce, a journalist for Harper’s Weekly, who witnesses Shaw promote Rawlins to Sergeant Major despite Union rules against the advancement of African American soldiers. The men arrive in Beaufort, South Carolina, on 9 June 1863. There, they are assigned to manual labor while white regiments are sent to battle. Shaw begs his superior, General Harker, to allow his men to go to war, but Harker instead sends him on a pillaging mission with Colonel Montgomery, a Kansas native who also leads an African-American regiment. Complimenting the discipline of Shaw’s men, Montgomery proudly proclaims that he used to own slaves and understands how to control them. They arrive in Darien, a town in Georgia populated by a handful of secessionists, where Shaw disagrees with Montgomery’s orders to ransack and burn the buildings, but Montgomery uses his higher rank to force Shaw’s cooperation. Back in Beaufort, Shaw threatens to expose Harker and Montgomery’s corruption, and Harker finally relents and allows the 54th Regiment to fight. On 16 July 1863, Shaw’s men engage in their first battle on James Island in South Carolina. In a forest, they shoot at the approaching Confederate soldiers, then engage in hand-to-hand combat using bayonets. Searles is shot, but saves Trip by spearing his attacker. The regiment successfully holds off the Confederates, who retreat, but not before the 54th suffers forty-two casualties. When the bullet is removed from his shoulder, Searles begs Shaw not to send him home on medical leave, and Shaw agrees. Later, the colonel finds Trip and congratulates him for his fighting. He informs the soldier that Rawlins recommended him for a commendation, but Trip refuses the honor. He tells Shaw he is not fighting the war for him and does not wish to carry the flag, then asks what will happen to the black soldiers after the war is over. Shaw sympathizes, but suggests that things will be better if the Union wins. The 54th Regiment travels to Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina, where Union Navy ships have been attacking a beachside Confederate garrison manned by 1,000 soldiers. General Strong addresses Shaw and several others about plans for a land attack. After Strong acknowledges that the regiment who leads will experience heavy casualties, Shaw volunteers his men. Strong worries that Shaw’s men have not slept in two days, but Shaw promises that his soldiers possess the character needed for such a mission. The night before they go into battle, the 54th Regiment gathers around a campfire to play instruments and sing. Rawlins addresses the group, asking for the Lord’s blessing in their mission, then encourages Trip to speak. Reluctantly, Trip acknowledges that he does not pray and has no family, but considers his fellow soldiers to be family. In the morning, Shaw gives a stack of letters for Pierce to mail and encourages him to remember what he sees that day. On the beach, Shaw looks out at the sea from horseback, then releases his horse as he joins his men on foot. In their initial advance toward the garrison, the men are barraged by cannon fire. They endure numerous casualties before taking cover in sand dunes, waiting for the sun to go down. Hours later, Shaw leads the way as they rush the garrison in the dark of night. The colonel is shot down, and Trip takes the flag he was carrying and continues. Moments later, Trip is shot dead. The heavily depleted regiment continues to advance, with Forbes and Rawlins leading the way. Under fire, the men clamor up the wall of the garrison to find they are greatly outnumbered. The next day, the bodies of fallen Union soldiers cover the beach. Shaw’s dead body is rolled into a mass grave, where Trip’s body lands on top of him. Although Fort Wagner is never taken, word of the 54th Regiment’s heroics encourage Congress to authorize the raising of more black troops. Over 180,000 African Americans ultimately volunteer for the Union cause, and their contribution is cited by President Lincoln as helping to turn the tide of the war in the Union’s favor. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.