Glory (1989 Film)
Get Glory 1989 Film essential facts below. View Videos or join the Glory 1989 Film discussion. Add Glory 1989 Film to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Glory 1989 Film

Glory (1989 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdward Zwick
Produced byFreddie Fields
Screenplay byKevin Jarre
Based onLay This Laurel 1973 novel
by Lincoln Kirstein
One Gallant Rush 1965 novel
by Peter Burchard
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyFreddie Francis
Edited bySteven Rosenblum
Freddie Fields Productions
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • December 14, 1989 (1989-12-14) (Limited)
  • February 16, 1990 (1990-02-16) (Wide)
Running time
122 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million[1]
Box office$27 million[2]

Glory is a 1989 American war drama film directed by Edward Zwick about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Union Army's first African-American regiment in the American Civil War. It stars Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment's commanding officer, and Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman as fictional members of the 54th. The screenplay by Kevin Jarre was based on the books Lay This Laurel (1973) by Lincoln Kirstein and One Gallant Rush (1965) by Peter Burchard, and the personal letters of Shaw. The film depicts the soldiers of the 54th from the formation of their regiment to their heroic actions at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner.

Glory was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three, including Best Supporting Actor for Washington. It won many other awards from, among others, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Golden Globe Awards, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the Political Film Society, and the NAACP Image Awards. The film was co-produced by TriStar Pictures and Freddie Fields Productions, and distributed by Tri-Star Pictures in the United States. It premiered in limited release in the United States on December 14, 1989, and in wide release on February 16, 1990, making $27 million on an $18 million budget. The soundtrack, composed by James Horner and performed in part by Boys Choir of Harlem, was released on January 23, 1990. The home video was distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. On June 2, 2009, a widescreen Blu-ray version, featuring the director's commentary and deleted scenes, was released.


During the American Civil War, Captain Robert Shaw, injured at Antietam, is sent home to Boston on medical leave. Shaw accepts a promotion to colonel commanding the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army. He asks his friend Cabot Forbes to serve as his second in command, with the rank of major. Their first volunteer is another friend, Thomas Searles, a bookish, free African-American. Other recruits include John Rawlins, Jupiter Sharts, Silas Trip, and a mute teenage drummer boy.

The men learn that, in response to the Emancipation Proclamation, the Confederacy has issued an order that all black soldiers will be returned to slavery. Black soldiers found in a Union uniform will be executed as well as their white officers. They are offered but turn down a chance to take an honorable discharge. They undergo rigorous training from Sergeant-Major Mulcahy, who is particularly hard on Searles. Despite Mulcahy's treatment of his friend, Shaw reluctantly realizes the tough discipline is needed to prepare them for the coming challenges the regiment must face.

Trip goes AWOL and is caught; Shaw orders him flogged in front of the regiment. He then learns that Trip left to find shoes because his men are being denied these supplies. Shaw confronts the base's racist quartermaster on their behalf. Shaw also supports his men in a pay dispute; the Federal government decrees that black soldiers will only be paid $10, not the $13 per month all white soldiers receive. When the men, led by Trip, begin tearing up their pay vouchers in protest of this unequal treatment, Shaw tears up his own voucher in support of his men. In recognition of his regimental leadership, Rawlins is promoted by Shaw to the rank of sergeant major.

Once the 54th completes its training, they are transferred under the command of Brigadier General Charles Harker. On the way to South Carolina they are ordered by Colonel James Montgomery to sack and burn Darien, Georgia. Shaw initially refuses to obey an unlawful order but reluctantly agrees under threat of having his command taken away. He continues to lobby his superiors to allow his regiment to join the fight, as their duties to date have involved mostly manual labor. Shaw finally gets the 54th a combat assignment after he blackmails Harker by threatening to report the illegal activities he has discovered. In their first battle at James Island, South Carolina, the 54th successfully defeats a Confederate attack that had routed other units. During the battle, Searles is wounded but saves Trip. Shaw offers Trip the honor of bearing the regimental flag in battle. He declines, not sure that the war will result in a better life for ex-slaves like himself.

General George Strong informs Shaw of a major campaign to secure a foothold at Charleston Harbor. This involves assaulting Morris Island and capturing Fort Wagner, whose only landward approach is a strip of open beach; a charge is certain to result in heavy casualties. Shaw volunteers the 54th to lead the attack. The night before the battle, the black soldiers conduct a religious service. Several make emotional speeches to inspire others, including Trip, who finally embraces his fellow soldiers. On their way to the battlefield, the 54th is cheered by the same Union troops who had scorned them earlier.

The 54th leads the charge on the fort, suffering serious losses. As night falls, the regiment is pinned down against the walls of the fort. Attempting to encourage his men forward, Shaw is killed by numerous gunshots. Trip, despite his previous assertion that he would not do it, lifts the flag to rally the soldiers to continue, but he too is soon shot dead. Forbes and Rawlins take charge, and the soldiers break through the fort's defenses. Seemingly on the brink of victory, Forbes, Rawlins, Searles, Sharts, and the two color sergeants are fired upon by Confederate artillery. The morning after the battle, the beach is littered with the bodies of black and white Union soldiers; the Confederate flag is raised over the fort. The dead Union soldiers are buried in a mass communal grave, with Shaw and Trip's bodies next to each other.

Closing text reveals (incorrectly) that Fort Wagner never fell to the Union Army. However, the courage demonstrated by the 54th resulted in the United States accepting thousands of black men for combat, and President Abraham Lincoln credited them with helping to turn the tide of the war.


Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in May 1863
Matthew Broderick portrayed Shaw in Glory.


Memorial at Boston Common by Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Kevin Jarre's inspiration for writing the film came from viewing the monument to Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in Boston Common.[3] The 54th was the first formal unit of the Union Army to be made up entirely of African-American enlisted men; all of the officers were white men. His screenplay was based on two books, Lincoln Kirstein's Lay This Laurel (1973) and Peter Burchard's One Gallant Rush (1965), and the personal letters of Robert Gould Shaw.[4][5]

Exterior filming took place primarily in Massachusetts and Georgia. Opening passages, meant to portray the Battle of Antietam, show volunteer military reenactors filmed at a major engagement at the Gettysburg battlefield. Zwick did not want to turn Glory "into a black story with a more commercially convenient white hero".[6] Actor Morgan Freeman noted: "We didn't want this film to fall under that shadow. This is a picture about the 54th Regiment, not Colonel Shaw, but at the same time the two are inseparable".[6] Zwick hired the writer Shelby Foote as a technical adviser; he later became widely known for his contributions to Ken Burns' PBS nine-episode documentary, The Civil War (1990).[6]

Glory was the first major motion picture to tell the story of black U.S. soldiers fighting for their freedom from slavery during the Civil War. The 1965 James Stewart film Shenandoah also depicted black soldiers fighting for the Union, but the script suggested the Union army at that time was integrated.


Glory contains the following inaccuracies:

  • The film implies that most of the soldiers in the 54th regiment were former slaves, when in fact a majority had been born free men in the North.
  • The regiment was not formed until early 1863, so they were not in camp for Christmas of 1862, and on the day the recruits arrived at Readville, they were given uniforms and new boots so soldiers were never reduced to marching barefoot in cold mud, as the film depicts.
  • While Glory shows Shaw volunteering his unit immediately after hearing General George Strong describe Fort Wagner's defenses, the regimental commanders had previously conferred among themselves before going back to Gen. Strong and telling him that the 54th was to make the assault. Before the attack, it was, in fact, General Strong who asked who would pick up the flag and carry on if the color bearer was killed; it was Col. Shaw who responded that he would. Strong was shot in the attack and later died of his wounds.
  • The 54th are shown attacking Fort Wagner from north to south with the ocean on their left. The actual attack occurred from the opposite direction, with the ocean on their right, parallel to the regiment.
  • Despite the film's closing statement that the Confederate fort was never taken by Union forces, it was finally occupied by the Union in September 1863 after the fort was abandoned. The Confederate forces feared they could not hold the fort if the Union were to attack.
  • The film depicts the soldier played by actor Denzel Washington being flogged as a punishment for running from camp. Flogging had been abolished by the U.S. Army in 1861, almost two years before the 54th Massachusetts Infantry was formed.
  • The historical Charles Garrison Harker never served around Charleston and never reached the rank of Major General. His war service was on the Western Theater, and he was younger than portrayed in the movie as he was in reality the same age as Colonel Shaw.


Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by
ReleasedNovember 1, 1990

Glory's original motion picture soundtrack was released by Virgin Records on January 11, 1990. The score for the film was composed and orchestrated by James Horner in association with the Boys Choir of Harlem.[7] Jim Henrikson edited the film's music, while Shawn Murphy mixed the score.[8]



A nonfiction study of the regiment first appeared in 1965 and was republished in paperback in January 1990 by St. Martin's Press under the title One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment. The book expands on how the 54th Massachusetts developed as battle-ready soldiers.[9] Summarizing the historical events, the book provides events surrounding the aftermath of the first Black Union regiment and how it influenced the outcome of the war.[9]


Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93%, based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 7.88/10. The site's consensus states: "Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made."[10]

Film critic Vincent Canby's review in The New York Times stated, "[Broderick] gives his most mature and controlled performance to date...[Washington is] an actor clearly on his way to a major screen career...The movie unfolds in a succession of often brilliantly realized vignettes tracing the 54th's organization, training and first experiences below the Mason-Dixon line. The characters' idiosyncrasies emerge".[4]Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it "a strong and valuable film no matter whose eyes it is seen through".[3] He believed the production design credited to Norman Garwood and the cinematography of Freddie Francis paid "enormous attention to period detail".[3]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was not impressed at all with the overall acting, calling Broderick "catastrophically miscast as Shaw".[11] Alternatively, Richard Schickel of Time described the picture by saying, "the movie's often awesome imagery and a bravely soaring choral score by James Horner that transfigure the reality, granting it the status of necessary myth".[12]Desson Howe of The Washington Post, pointed out some flaws that included mentioning Broderick as "an amiable non-presence, creating unintentionally the notion that the 54th earned their stripes despite wimpy leadership".[13]

James Berardinelli writing for ReelViews, called the film "without question, one of the best movies ever made about the American Civil War", noting that it "has important things to say, yet it does so without becoming pedantic".[14] Rating the film four stars, critic Leonard Maltin wrote that it was "grand, moving, breathtakingly filmed (by veteran cinematographer Freddie Francis) and faultlessly performed", calling it "one of the finest historical dramas ever made".[15]

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film a thumbs up review, saying, "like Driving Miss Daisy, this is another admirable film that turns out to be surprisingly entertaining". He thought the film took on "some true social significance" and felt the actors portrayed the characters as "more than simply black men". He explained: "They're so different, that they become not merely standard Hollywood blacks, but true individuals".[16]

American Civil War historian James M. McPherson stated the film "accomplished a remarkable feat in sensitizing a lot of today's black students to the role that their ancestors played in the Civil War in winning their own freedom".[17]


The film was nominated and won several awards in 1989-90.[18][19] A complete list of awards the film won or was nominated for are listed below.

Award Category Nominee Result
62nd Academy Awards[20] Best Actor in a Supporting Role Denzel Washington Won
Best Art Direction Norman Garwood, Garrett Lewis Nominated
Best Cinematography Freddie Francis Won
Best Film Editing Steven Rosenblum Nominated
Best Sound Donald O. Mitchell, Gregg Rudloff, Elliot Tyson, Russell Williams II Won
41st ACE Eddie Awards[21] Best Edited Feature Film -------- Won
44th British Academy Film Awards[22] Best Cinematography Freddie Francis Nominated
British Society of Cinematographers Awards 1990[23] Best Cinematography Freddie Francis Won
Casting Society of America Artios Awards 1990[24] Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama Mary Colquhoun Nominated
47th Golden Globe Awards[25] Best Motion Picture - Drama Freddie Fields Nominated
Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Denzel Washington Won
Best Director Edward Zwick Nominated
Best Screenplay Kevin Jarre Nominated
Best Original Score James Horner Nominated
33rd Grammy Awards[26] Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television James Horner Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards 1989[27] Best Film -------- Won
Best Director Edward Zwick Won
Best Supporting Actor Denzel Washington Won
NAACP Image Awards 1992[28][29] Outstanding Motion Picture -------- Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Denzel Washington Won
1989 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Awards[30] Best Picture -------- Nominated
1989 New York Film Critics Circle Awards[31] Best Supporting Actor Denzel Washington Nominated
1990 Political Film Society Awards[32] Human Rights -------- Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards 1989[33] Best Adapted Screenplay Kevin Jarre Nominated

American Film Institute Lists

Box office

Director Edward Zwick

The film premiered in cinemas on December 14, 1989, in limited release within the US. During its limited opening weekend, the film grossed $63,661 in business showing at three locations. Its official wide release began in theaters on February 16, 1990.[2] Opening in a distant eighth place, the film earned $2,683,350 showing at 801 cinemas. The film Driving Miss Daisy soundly beat its competition during that weekend opening in first place with $9,834,744.[34] The film's revenue dropped by 37% in its second week of release, earning $1,682,720. For that particular weekend, the film remained in 8th place screening in 809 theaters not challenging a top five position. The film Driving Miss Daisy, remained in first place grossing $6,107,836 in box office revenue.[35]Glory went on to top out domestically at $26,828,365 in total ticket sales through a 17-week theatrical run.[2] For 1989 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 45.[36]

Home media

Following its release in theaters, the film was released on VHS video format on June 22, 1990.[37] The Region 1 DVD widescreen edition of the film was released in the United States on January 20, 1998. Special DVD features include: interactive menus, scene selections, widescreen 1.85:1 color anamorphic format, along with subtitles in English, Italian, Spanish and French.[38] A Special Edition DVD of the Film was released on January 30, 2001.

A special repackaged version of Glory was also officially released on DVD on January 2, 2007. It includes two discs featuring: widescreen and full screen versions of the film; Picture-in-Picture video commentary by director Ed Zwick and actors Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick; a director's audio commentary; and a documentary entitled, The True Story of Glory Continues narrated by Morgan Freeman. Also included are: an exclusive featurette entitled, Voices of Glory, an original featurette, deleted scenes, production notes, theatrical trailers, talent files, and scene selections.[39]

The Blu-ray disc version of the film was released on June 2, 2009. Special features include: a virtual civil war battlefield, interactive map, The Voice Of Glory feature, The True Story Continues documentary, the making of Glory, director's commentary, and deleted scenes.[40] The film is displayed in widescreen 1.85:1 color format in 1080p screen resolution. The audio is enhanced with Dolby TrueHD sound and is available with subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.[40] A UMD version of the film for the Sony PlayStation Portable was also released on July 1, 2008. It features dubbed, subtitled, and color widescreen format viewing options.[41]

See also


  1. ^ "Glory". The Numbers. Retrieved 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Glory". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger (January 12, 1990). Glory.Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  4. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (December 14, 1989). Glory (1989). The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  5. ^ "Threads That Led to the Making of 'Glory' : Movies: Screenwriter Kevin Jarre recalls the 'unbelievable odyssey' in getting the tale of a black Civil War regiment made". The Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ a b c "Glory (1989)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ Glory Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  8. ^ "Glory (1989) Cast and Credits". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ a b Burchard, Peter (1990). One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-04643-9.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Travers, Peter (December 1989). Glory (1989). Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  12. ^ Schickel, Richard (December 5, 1989). Cinema: Of Time and the River. TIME. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  13. ^ Desson, Howe (January 12, 1990). 'Glory' (R). The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  14. ^ Berardinelli, James (December 1989). Glory. ReelViews. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  15. ^ Maltin, Leonard (August 5, 2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Signet. p. 528. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
  16. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 1989). Glory[permanent dead link]. At the Movies. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  17. ^ McPherson, James M.; Lamb, Brian (May 22, 1994). "James McPherson: What They Fought For, 1861-1865". Booknotes. National Cable Satellite Corporation. Retrieved 2018. Glory accomplished a remarkable feat in sensitizing a lot of today's black students to the role that their ancestors played in the Civil War in winning their own freedom.
  18. ^ "Glory: Awards & Nominations". MSN Movies. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved 2010.
  19. ^ "Glory (1989) Awards & Nominations". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved 2010.
  20. ^ "Nominees & Winners for the 62nd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. March 26, 1990. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved 2016.
  21. ^ "Nominees & Recipients". American Cinema Editors. Archived from the original on February 24, 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  22. ^ "Film Nominations 1990". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ "Best Cinematography Award". The British Society of Cinematographers. Archived from the original on April 14, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  24. ^ "Artios Award Winners". Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ "Glory". Archived from the original on September 29, 2006. Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ "Videos for 33rd Annual Grammy Awards". Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ "KCFCC Award Winners 1980-1989". Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  28. ^ "Image Awards History". NAACP Image Awards. Archived from the original on March 30, 2006. Retrieved 2010.
  29. ^ "Naacp's Image Awards Honor Black Entertainers". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010.
  30. ^ "Awards for 1989". National Board of Review. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ "1989 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Archived from the original on November 9, 2006. Retrieved 2010.
  32. ^ "Previous Winners". Political Film Society. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  33. ^ "Awards Winners". Writers Guild Awards. Archived from the original on October 1, 2006. Retrieved 2010.
  34. ^ "February 16-19, 1990 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010.
  35. ^ "October 23-25, 1990 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010.
  36. ^ "1989 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010.
  37. ^ Glory VHS Format. ISBN 6301777867.
  38. ^ "Glory DVD". Retrieved 2010.
  39. ^ "Glory Special Edition". Retrieved 2010.
  40. ^ a b "Glory Blu-ray". Retrieved 2010.
  41. ^ "Glory UMD for PSP". Retrieved 2010.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes