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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Glory (1989)

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Plot Summary: Captain Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick), a Union Officer in the Civil War, accepts a promotion to command the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army. He asks his friend Cabot Forbes, (Cary Elwes) to serve as his second in command. Their first volunteer is another friend, Thomas Searles, a bookish, born-free African-American (Andre Braugher). Other recruits include John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman, Jupiter Sharts (Jihmi Kennedy), and Silas Trip (Denzel Washington). Despite their willingness and dutifulness to fight, Shaw's men confront a base's racist quartermaster, reduced pay for black soldiers, and continued racism among the Union leadership who plan to use the soldiers only for manual labor. In the end, their example displays the courage and honor of black soldiers spurring more to join the cause.


  • Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw

  • Denzel Washington as Private Silas Trip

  • Cary Elwes as Major Cabot Forbes

  • Morgan Freeman as Sergeant Major John Rawlins

  • Andre Braugher as Corporal Thomas Searles

  • Jihmi Kennedy as Private Jupiter Sharts


  • Nominated for Best Art Direction and Film Editing, Won for Best Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington), Cinematography, and Sound

  • Won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television

  • Nominated - AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies; Nominated - AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills; Trip - Nominated Hero - AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains; Nominated - AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores; #31 - AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers; Nominated - AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)

Did You Know:

  • Edward Zwick was initially apprehensive about how the African-American cast would feel about a young, white, Jewish director telling a crucial part of their history. He found the cast to be very affable and good-humored towards him. Some were grateful that he was brave enough to tackle the subject.

  • Edward Zwick claimed that, for the flogging scene, Denzel Washington was lashed at full contact with a special whip that would not cut his back, but still stung. For the final take of the scene, Zwick hesitated to call "Cut!" to signal the flogging to stop, and the result was Washington's spontaneous tear down his cheek.

  • Morgan Freeman did all of his own stunts.

  • The majority of Cary Elwes' scenes were cut from the film.

  • According to Edward Zwick, Matthew Broderick and Cary Elwes did not get along during filming.

  • Many of the first shots were taken from the 125th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1988. Up to 15,000 participants took part. The scenes filmed at the Gettysburg Reenactment were fused into the Battle of Antietam scene which was filmed in Mcdonough, Georgia. Some shots show the browner dry summer background of Pennsylvania in 1988, others show the greener spring background of Georgia in 1989.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Despite the institutional and systemic challenges, one of the first all-black soldiers regiments proves they are as good and willing to die for the cause as the rest.

Best Performance: Denzel Washington (Pvt. Trip)

Best Secondary Performance: Matthew Broderick (Col. Shaw)

Most Charismatic Award: Morgan Freeman (Sgt. Maj. Rawlins)/ Andre Braugher (Pvt. Searles)

Best Scene:

  • Target Practice

  • You're Friend Needs to Grow Up

  • Emancipation Proclamation/Confederate Edict

  • The Deserter

  • The Quartermaster's Office

  • Burning Darien

  • The Night Before

  • Fort Wagner

Favorite Scene: Target Practice

Most Indelible Moment: Fort Wagner

In Memorium:

  • Samuel E. Wright – voice actor and singer who was Sebastian in the Little Mermaid

  • Paul Mooney – the Buddy Holly Story, Bamboozled, and the Chappelle Show

  • Charles Grodin - The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run, Beethoven, Dave, Heaven Can Wait, Rosemary's Baby

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Col. Robert Gould Shaw: Before this war began, many of my regiment had never seen a Negro. Now the roads are choked with the dispossessed. We fight for men and women whose poetry is not yet written but which will presently be as enviable and as renowned as any.

Pvt. Trip: I'm from around Tennessee. I ran away when I was 12 years old and I ain't never looked back.

Pvt. Jupiter Sharts: What ya doin' since then?

Pvt. Trip: I run for President. [laughter] I didn't win though.

Pvt. Jupiter Sharts: What it 'bout, that book?

Cpl. Thomas Searles: It's a collection of essays, actually... Fourier, Emerson... all the transcendentalists.

Pvt. Jupiter Sharts: [nods smiling] It got pictures?

Pvt. Trip: I ain't fighting this war for you sir.

Col. Robert Gould Shaw: I see.

Pvt. Trip: What's the point? Ain't nobody gonna win. It's just gonna go on and on.

Col. Robert Gould Shaw: Can't go on forever.

Pvt. Trip: Yeah, but ain't nobody gonna win, sir.

Col. Robert Gould Shaw: Somebody's gonna win.

Pvt. Trip: Who? I mean, you get to go on back to Boston, big house and all that. What about us? What do we get?

Col. Robert Gould Shaw: Well, you won't get anything if we lose.

Sgt. Maj. Mulcahy: Left! Right! Left! [to Pvt. Jupiter Sharts] What the hell are you doing, boy? Don't you know your right from your left?

Pvt. Jupiter Sharts: N-n-no, sah.

Sgt. Maj. Mulcahy: No? How many here do not know right from left? [half a dozen hands are raised. Mutters] Jesus have pity.

[Trip and Searles are about to fight when Rawlins steps in]

Trip: Get your hands off me, gravedigger!

John Rawlins: Goddamn it! Does the whole world gotta stomp on your face?

Trip: Nigger, you better get your hands off me!

John Rawlins: Ain't no niggers around here, you hear me?

Trip: Oh, I see. So the white man give you a couple of stripes, next thing you hollerin' and orderin' everybody around, like you the massa himself! Nigger, you ain't nothin' but the white man's dog! Shit. [Rawlins slaps him.]

John Rawlins: And what are you? So full of hate you have to fight everybody because you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well, that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain't dying. And dying's what these white boys been doin' for going on three years now, dying by the thousands! Dying for you, fool! I know, 'cuz I dug the graves. And all the time I keep askin' myself, "When, O Lord, when gonna be our time?" Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up and kick in like men. LIKE MEN! You watch who you callin' nigger. If there's any niggers round here, it's YOU! Smart-mouthed, stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger. And if you ain't careful, that's all you ever gonna be.

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 7.75

Impact/Significance: 5.75

Novelty: 7.25

Classic-ness: 8

Rewatchability: 7

Audience Score: 9.15 (90% Google, 93% RT)

Total: 44.9

Remaining Questions:

  • Is this a white savior movie? (definition: The white savior is a cinematic trope in which a white character rescues non-white characters from unfortunate circumstances.)

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