A lifetime at West Point

WHEN Harry Cohn, president of Columbia Pictures, announced last year that his company was going to make a picture at, and about, the United States Military Academy at West Point, I imagine shivers went up and down the spine of the cadet corps and the alumni.

Several pictures have been nade about West Point and the Academy grounds have been used as background, but none of them has satisfied the present student body or the graduates of the Academy. West Pointers are keenly sensitive on the subject of the way they've been presented on the screen, so even when they learned that the new film was to be based on Martin Maher's autobioraphical story, "Bringing Up the Brass," they still shuddered at the Idea. Although Maher had the help of Mrs. Nardi Reeder Campion, daughter and wife of Army officers, and John Ford was to direct the film, there were gloomy predictions. When "The Long Gray Line," as the picture is called, went into production at the Point, two Army officers, both graduates of West Point, were assigned as technical advisers on the film.

Officers as Technical Advisers Lt. Col. George W. McIntyre served as technical adviser and Maj. George Pappas, public information officer at W6st Point, acted as project officer. Both men stayed with the production from the arrival of the company at West Point until the last interior scene was shot at the Columbia Studios in Hollywood. Maj. Philip Kieffer, retired, who plays the role of Academy superintendent in the movie, and is a graduate of the class of 1911, served as technical aid on the early sequences.

President Eisenhower, class of 1915, put his stamp of approval on the picture when he gave his consent to having actor Harry Carey Jr. represent him as a cadet In the film. Many famous names are used throughout the story, as ftt. Martin Maher was known to all of them. The graduating class of 1915 was selected for one scene in the film, as Maher says that is the class on which the stars descended.

Stayed a Half-Century I remember reading "Bringing Up the Brass" a few years ago. It Is the story of an enlisted man's experience over a period of fifty years at the Point. Maher applied for a job there on his first day in this country as an Irish immigrant. He staved on as an enlisted man and eventually became assistant to "the Master of the Sword" as the chief athletic officer of the Academy was called. Marty married a girl who worked as maid for an officer's family and settled down to spend his life as trainer, nurse and confidant to one class of cadets after another. If ever a book about West Point could furnish a true and well integrated picture of the Academy, as seen through one man's eyes, it is Mrs. Campion's and Maher's story of the sergeant's half-century at the Point.

Power and O'Hara The picture, photographed in Technicolor and CinemaScope, is scheduled to open at the Capitol Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 10, with Tyrone Power as Marty Maher and Maureen O'Hara as the girl he marries. The cast also includes such well-known names as Ward Bond, Donald Crisp, Robert Francis, who made a hit as the young ensign in "The Caine Mutiny," Betsy Palmer of TV fame, Erin O'Brfen-Moore and Phil Carey. Patrick Wayne, son of John Wayne and godson of director Ford, has one of the featured roles in the picture.

Ford spent most of last summer at the Point with his cast and crew, making the exterior scenes and filming interiors of the gymnasium, cadet mess hall and cadet chapel. When he needed to catch the corps on parade or at any of their regular outdoor duties, he had to adjust his shooting schedule to their daily routine, because he couldn't disturb the cadets' study periods for any particular shot. The director, his assistants and his cast, stayed at the Thayer Hotel, which is on the U. S. military reservation and is the only hotel owned and operated by the government.

Historical Picture Robert Arthur produced the picture for Columbia, and Edward Hope adapted Maher's story to the screen. The latter says that "The Long Gray Line" is not only the story of Marty Maher's life at the Point, but is a history of the Academy itself, as it shows the effect of two world wars on its men and includes such personalities as President Eisenhower, Generals Bradley, Pershing, Cousins, MeNarney, Stratemeyer and Van Fleet.

Maureen O'Hara arrived in New York during the week to appear on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" TV program tonight, and to be present at the film's gala world premiere in Washington on Wednesday night.


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