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We ran away slaves, we came back fighting men!
Glory is a 1989 drama war film, directed by Edward Zwick. It was based on the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army as told from the point of view of its commanding officer, Robert Gould Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick) during The American Civil War. The 54th was one of the first formal units of the U.S. Army to be made up entirely of African-American men (apart from the officers).
- Academy Award: Denzel Washington won Best Supporting Actor for this performance, his second nomination and his first win. He'd get another as Best Actor for Training Day.
- A Father to His Men: Col. Shaw, who was probably the first man to treat much of the 54th as equals in their entire lives.
- Black and Nerdy: Thomas Searles, played by Andre Braugher. Although Black, he is actually quite educated, offering several of the other soldiers to tutor them in reading using his volumes of Emerson. See also Stereotype Flip.
- The Captain: Robert Gould Shaw is a Captain in the Union Army at the beginning of the movie and is promoted to the rank of Colonel upon taking charge of the 54th.
- Casting Gag: The man at the end who yells "Give 'em Hell, 54th!" is the screenwriter Kevin Jarre.
- Chekhov's Skill: While the regiment is in training, Drill Sergeant Nasty Mulcahy berates Thomas and demonstrates his weak technique to his fellow soldiers by seizing his rifle as he tries to stab him with the bayonet and hitting him with the rifle butt. Later, during the battle for Fort Wagner, Thomas uses the same technique against a Confederate soldier attempting to bayonet him.
- Colonel Badass: Matthew Broderick plays a Real Life Colonel Badass; in this case Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the son of Boston abolitionists, who commanded the Union Army's first black troops in the Civil War.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The attitudes of the white soldiers towards the blacks. Even the most tolerant ones express attitudes that today would be considered racist.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mulcahy
- Evil Counterpart: The Negro Irregulars are basically a mob used by their commanders to rob Southern civilians.
- Fake American: Cary Elwes plays Major Cabot Forbes. Justified as Forbes is a New Englander, about as close to Elwes' English accent as the U.S. will allow.
- Good Looking Privates: Denzel Washington is very attractive, as is most of the cast (including Morgan Freeman if you're so inclined).
- Gory Discretion Shot: Matthew Broderick watches on as a Union soldier's wounded leg is hacked off while said soldier is still conscious. The actual hacking is covered by a sheet but we see blood splatter on the sheet as the soldier screams in agony. One could also say Trip's whipping is also an example, though there were several shots of Trip's Death Glare at Shaw while he was being whipped.
- If I Do Not Return: Right before the advance on Ft. Wagner, Shaw hands some letters to a reporter, and tells him "If I should fall, remember what you see here."
- Infant Immortality: Right before the advance on Ft. Wagner, Forbes dismisses the drummer boys - the youngest members of the regiment - to spare them from the ensuing slaughter. Like most things shown in the film, this really happened.
- Irony: The film opens with a voice-over by Shaw writing a letter to his mother with martial music playing and the Army of the Potomoc enjoying their day before preparing for battle. The letter ends with "You mustn't think that any of us are going to be killed. They are collecting such a force here that an attack would be insane." And then the title card appears, "Antietam Creek, Maryland". Shaw just marched into the bloodiest single day in American history.
- Kill'Em All: The entire Regiment dies at the end. Or, at least, everyone you cared about. This also counts as a Foregone Conclusion.
- Last Chance to Quit: The 54th is offered the chance to leave when they hear that the Confederate Army will kill them if they're captured. None of them leave.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Shaw
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Occurs while Charging Fort Wagner. It's The Jimmy Hart Version of Carl Orff's O Fortuna.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rawlins lays a whopper on Trip, after Trip calls him a "n****r" and "the white man's dog"
- Sergeant Rock: John Rawlins.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Shaw, despite his age, had to endure the bloodbath that was Antietam. The battle leaves him constantly jumpy and seeing his men play-act and shoot their rifles causes him flashbacks of men dying around him.
- Shown Their Work: Very historically accurate, minus a few small points (most of which fall under artistic license).
- Single Tear: Trip during his whipping.
- See also A Taste of the Lash, as this is one of the more disturbing examples of this trope.
- Stereotype Flip: Several characters defy the stereotypes of the day. Thomas Searles, a Black man from Boston, might be the best formally educated man in the regiment. You have the white officers, notably Shaw, who are almost totally free of racial bias (not all of them are like this). Even the old Black sergeant Major, played by Morgan Freeman surprises a white Union officer when he demonstrates that he actually can, in fact, sign his own name (at that point in history, most Blacks didn't even know the alphabet, as the movie shows).
- Together in Death: Col. Shaw is buried in a mass grave next to Trip and the rest of the 54th. The Confederate soldiers putting him there intended it as an insult, but according to Shaw's father he would've considered it an honor, also making this count as an Insult Backfire.
- White Male Lead: Colonel Shaw, the white male leader of a unit of African-American soldiers, is the movie's viewpoint character. Justified by the fact that he was the highest ranked officer and the commander, and his surviving personal correspondence was referenced heavily for the film.
- Your Head Asplode: The officer in front of Shaw in the Battle of Antietam.
- Your Other Left: The soldiers, many if not most of whom had no formal education, had even more trouble than the average volunteer with drills for this reason. Mulcahy chews one of them out with a stock "Don't you know your right from your left!" and then appears genuinely taken aback when the answer is an honest no. He asks how many others also can't and about a third of the hands go up.