There are flashes of genius in this 1965 Western, loosely based on events leading up to Custer’s Last Stand, and written for the screen by a young Sam Peckinpah.
Captain Demas Harrod (Tom Tryon) is assigned by General Frederick McCabe (Andrew Duggan) to train a batch of raw young cavalry recruits ahead of a major campaign against the Sioux.
On his way to join his new regiment, Captain Harrod meets and falls in love with Lou Woodard (Senta Berger), a voluptuous businesswoman with a shady past who runs a gun shop near the military post.
Harrod and Sol Rogers (Harve Presnell) – who serves as chief scout for his regiment – vie for her hand, initially in a gentlemanly manner and eventually through fisticuffs.
While the two become sworn adversaries, Sol eventually dies trying to save Harrod’s life.
Slim Pickens is loud, gruff, fatherly Sgt. James Gregory and Michael Anderson Jr. plays private Martin Hale, a juvenile enlisted man who falls in love with cute Beth Poole (Laurel Goodwin).
James Caan makes a good impression as private Anthony Dugan, a stubborn recruit who is always getting in trouble.
General McCabe splits his company, giving Harrod command of one half and taking the remaining troops into hostile Indian company. Unbeknownst to Harrod, the general has already planned for Harrod’s half of the regiment to be sacrificed as decoys when the battle begins.
After an action-packed ambush, Captain Harrod finds the general and all his men killed by the Sioux. The young officer realises that no matter what history will have to say about McCabe, he alone knew the awful truth – that the general was the victim of his own ambition and rashness and that half of his command was sent to their death as a result.
Director Arnold Laven turns The Glory Guys into a more conventional Western than Peckinpah ever would, but the raw bones of something else poke through here and there.
Capt. Demas Harrod
Pvt. Anthony Dugan
Gen. Frederick McCabe
Sgt. James Gregory
Lt. Bunny Hodges
Mrs Rachael McCabe
Pvt. Martin Hale
Michael Anderson Jr
Pvt. Lucas Crain
Pvt. Clark Gentry
Maj. Oliver Marcus
Lt. Mike Moran
Capt. Rand Treadway