George Lucas Disses the 54th Massachusetts

Let’s not get all worked up about George Lucas’s recent interview on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show over his comments about the the men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  Lucas talked about the difficulties in securing Hollywood financing for his new film, Red Tails, owing to the film’s all-black cast.  Lucas told Stewart:

I wanted to make it inspirational for teenaged boys. I wanted to show that they have heroes, they’re real American heroes, they’re patriots that helped to make the country what it is today. And it’s not Glory where you have a lot of white officers running these guys into cannon fodder. It’s like a real, they were real heroes.

Lucas is not suggesting that the men of the 54th were not brave in battle or do not deserve to be remembered.  He is commenting on the way in which they are remembered in film and he is right to point out that the story is told largely through the eyes of a white protagonist.  Does anyone seriously believe that Glory could have been made any other way?

The Second World War is largely remembered as a white man’s war, so we shall see if Lucas is able to tell a story with no white leading roles.  Click here for an extended movie trailer.

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63 thoughts on “George Lucas Disses the 54th Massachusetts

  1. Will Hickox

    Peter Burchard, in “One Gallant Rush,”–which is one of the books “Glory” is based upon–specifically argues that the 54th were not seen by white officers as cannon fodder. In fact, one of the central themes of both the movie and the real history of the USCTs is their struggle to be allowed to fight. But we all know that the vast majority of Americans get their “history” from whatever is currently showing on their movie and television screens, so Lucas’s offhand remark–made, of course, with ticket sales uppermost in his mind–will be taken as the truth by many viewers. So as a history student I do feel a little “worked up” over it.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      I rarely came across references to “cannon fodder” in the records of white officers of the Ninth Corp’s Fourth Division. I can’t imagine Lucas’s comment having much of an impact, but I certainly see your point.

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      1. Jobobby87

        Considering how woefully ignorant most people are of our history, I can see them taking George Lucas’ word as fact. In their minds, he created Star Wars, so that somehow makes him more knowledgeable. (Even if he’s trying to murder that franchise every time he re-releases the films.)

        But what’s worse, I believe most people who watched that interview took it at face value and simply did not care afterwards. It went in, got logged into their brain’s subconscious and then was ejected out to make way for other frivolity. Let’s not forget, the average Tom, Dick, and Harry get their history lessons from Hollywood.
        If Hollywood says something happened that way, then to them it happened that way.

        I also found the music in the trailer inappropriate. He’s pandering to a specific clique hoping to say: “Hey, look, I’m George Lucas and I made a film about young black men, that uses modern motifs to describe your grandfathers so you can relate better. That means I’m racially sensitive SEE MY MOVIES.” The guy has become the very establishment he was fighting against in the late 70′s. Disgusting to see what fame and money do to a person.

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        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          But what’s worse, I believe most people who watched that interview took it at face value and simply did not care afterwards.

          Are you any different? I don’t listen to interviews and spend the next few hours verifying whether what was said has any basis in fact. Why exactly is this a burden for George Lucas? He made an inappropriate comment about the 54th and their use as “cannon fodder.” He also made a movie about a subject that most people know nothing about. Can we assume that a few moviegoers will follow-up and actually read something a bit more accurate? You bet.

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          1. Jobobby87

            I’m not saying George Lucas’ burden to present 100% fact in an interview. My point is people will let the screen think for them. “If the guy on TV or on this web video says that’s true, then it must be true. Time to kill brain cells playing video games staring at Facebook waiting for status updates.”

            Will this movie prod some people to look into the subject a bit more, of course. Any movie like this does but I’d be more optimistic if I didn’t spend three years telling products of the public school system that the civil war was fought not between the US and Great Britain but in fact between states in the US, or that there we were not in trenches fighting Germans from 1861 to 1865. I used to be a reenactor.

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            1. Kevin Levin Post author

              My point is people will let the screen think for them. If the guy on TV or on this web video says that’s true, then it must be true.

              So, how is that George Lucas’s problem?

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              1. Jobobby87

                It’s interesting that you took the part of the comment that had the least to do with Lucas and used that to begin with. The problem there is mostly in lap of the audience. Being mindful of how he presents what he says, that ball’s in his court. But that being said, how he, or the rest of Hollywood presents history influences the masses perceptions of people and events.

                Until the day humanity is snuffed out, Germany will be equated to Nazism and nothing else. Why? Not because of what they did, but because every few years, Hollywood pumps out movies to make sure we keep the connection there. With all the books, TV programs and other things relating to WWII out there, the collective mind is still easily swayed into believing every German was a blood thirsty, Jew hating monster. How much more can they sway minds on something far less known?

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                1. Kevin Levin Post author

                  Why not cast your net even further. What about the grasp of history exhibited by our elected leaders, historical fiction writers, comic books, commercials…

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                2. Margaret D. Blough

                  Excuse me? Don’t you think state-sponsored and conducted mass murder over a number of years and plunging the continent of Europe into a devastating war out of one man’s geopolitical fantasies are a bit memorable in their own right? In any event, there aren’t that many World War II movies that even deal with the Holocaust, particularly ones that involve combat. There is the History Channels obsession with Nazis, but it’s also obsessed with Nostradamus. On mini-movies the Band of Brothers dealt with it since the liberation of a concentration camp was part of the history of the unit.

                  I also think it is totally inaccurate to say that no one thinks of any regarding Germany but Nazism and I don’t know of anyone who thinks every German is a bloodthirsty, Jew-hating monster. However, most Germans themselves realize that the Third Reich is part of its history and won’t disappear.

                  Historical memories are long and have been well-before modern media was developed. The Balkans are still dealing with resentments over battles that happened many centuries ago. Northern Ireland, for many years, dealt with an exacerbation of tensions over a battle that was fought while the United States was a bunch of colonies.

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              2. Ray O'Hara

                It’s not that there is a “problem” but you have just justified lying.
                It’s not Bill O’Reilly’s fault for lying about “Death Panels” or the Malmedy Massacre” it’s the fault of the listener

                You have just made Mitt Romney and Bain Capital’s case for them.
                It’s not their fault they put you out of work. it’s your fault for working at the company they bought.

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                1. Kevin Levin Post author

                  It’s not that there is a “problem” but you have just justified lying.

                  With all due respect, I am not even going to respond to this nonsense.

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                  1. Ray O'Hara

                    But you have Keven. as long as their goal is just to make money it’s okay.
                    That may be acceptable but I find it wrong.

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                    1. Kevin Levin Post author

                      My wife is currently yelling at the television over the way an investigative team is handling chemicals in a lab. I guess I could get bent out of shape over this and worry that the general public is being misinformed about how scientists actually handle these materials, but here’s the thing: IT’S A TELEVISION SHOW.

        2. Ray O'Hara

          A good example of recent Hollywood “history” was The Patriot by Mel Gibson,
          these days many/most who saw it theink the British burned chueches with Women children and old men in them.
          Not only was that not true, it actually pissed off the English who saw it as calumny against them.
          These movies do have real world consequences.

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          1. Kevin Levin Post author

            I’m sure it upset a lot of people. So what. Should we censor these movies based on historical accuracy? What exactly do you want?

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            1. Ray O'Hara

              No one has suggested censorship. just vocal pushback
              they don’t have to be told “You can’t say that” they have to be told, “you’re wrong”.

              and we are discussing a segment of the Daily Show, a show that has been shown to get a better educated audience, if they are misinformed it is all the worse as we hope the educated will know better,

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              1. Kevin Levin Post author

                OK, I’ve had enough drama for one day.

                No one has suggested censorship. just vocal pushback.
                So push back.

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  2. Emmanuel Dabney

    I won’t get too worked but I do think it is a off-hand remark about the 54th and generally about the experiences of USCTs in the war. He could have made a better connection that what USCTs did during the Civil War gave the Tuskegee Airmen a place. I’d argue that while the Second World War is largely remembered as a white man’s fight; the Tuskegee airmen are almost the ONLY discussion of Black men in World War 2. Sadly it wasn’t until after my great-aunt’s husband died that I learned he had been in the Second World War’s Pacific Theater doing laundry (which does not excite the majority of folks but I think it is cool).

    Flying an airplane is something just as courageous as trying, as William Carney did, to get up the wall of Fort Wagner. However, one came before the other. I guess it’s up to historians to try to push that the horse is in front of the cart (or in this case the “cannon fodder” before the airplane).

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      He could have made a better connection that what USCTs did during the Civil War gave the Tuskegee Airmen a place.

      I don’t think anyone, including Lucas, would disagree with you.

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    2. Will Hickox

      That’s very interesting. I know very little about the African American military experience in the twentieth century, but my understanding was that white officers in both world wars often justified their treatment of black servicemen by arguing that they wouldn’t perform well in combat. How well-known was the history of the USCTs in the 1940s? ( I’m not being sarcastic; was their story remembered?) You’d think the career officers in the high command would at least have heard stories of the good service performed by the Buffalo Soldiers in the late 1800s-early 1900s, but then they were a relatively small, all-volunteer group.

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      1. Rob Baker

        “You’d think the career officers in the high command would at least have heard stories of the good service performed by the Buffalo Soldiers in the late 1800s-early 1900s, but then they were a relatively small, all-volunteer group.”

        Career officers did. John Joseph Pershing fought with the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) on Kettle and San Juan Hills in the Spanish American War. This is why he received the name, “Black Jack.” Pershing later went on to be General of the Armies of the United States. This is the highest rank ever bestowed in the United States until Congress declared George Washington the highest ranking officer in the 1970′s. My point being, they had a knowledge of the performance of Buffalo Soldiers. Why they refused to allow them fighting roles I think goes beyond the ability to fight.

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    3. Ray O'Hara

      You might want to hunt up a book called ‘Hit Hard’ about the 761st Tank Battalion.
      It went through the same experience as the 54th, last in line for resources and it was a battle just to get into the fight. It was used mostly as a foil for training other Tank Battalions and by the time it was sent to France it was among the best trained Tank units the Army had, While Tank Battalions were technically independent most were permanently assigned to an Infantry Division and such was the Case of the 761st, It was assigned to the 26th Yankee Division a division based on the Mass National Guard, which was a political decision too.
      The book was written by one of its White officers and he is quite truthful about himself and the men, it is well worth reading

      Kareem Abdul Jabbar also wrote a biik about the unit because his father was in it.

      The famed Red Ball Express, the supply trucks that moved the material from Normandy to the front were driven by blacks,

      Blacks were mainly used for supply and rear area duty in WWII, a book on this if you can find it is the ‘Port Chicago Mutiny’ about an incident where Black Sailors objected to the unsafe conditions they labored under loading ships after there was a deadly explosion. which killed 300 and the ensuing mutiny resulted in the court martial of 50 Sailors who were given long sentences. it was an ugly affair and not to the credit of the USN

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      1. Gary Waldron

        And don’t forget the 93rd Infantry Division. Three campaign streamers in the Pacific. The division’s performance influenced the way the Army was desegregated in the Far East when that order came down in the post war.

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  3. Rob Baker

    I don’t think Glory could have been made any other way but through the eyes of Robert Shaw. If it can, I think it would be sub-par. I am curious to see the representation Lucas is making in this movie. Though I am not overly optimistic as Hollywood usually blunders history for the sake of drama.

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  4. Barbara A. Gannon

    He obviously has not seen the movie. White officers are in charge of the unit, but the soldiers are not “cannon fodder.” Perhaps we see class-ism, not racism here. Service is worthy only if you can be officers and pilots.

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Good point re: class, but I don’t see any reason to bring up the issue of race. Why would Lucas bother to make such a film?

      Reply
  5. Will Hickox

    In his essay “The ‘Glory’ Story,” James McPherson suggested that the filmmakers could have gone with a more accurate storyline depicting the experiences of Frederick Douglass’s son Sgt. Maj. Lewis Douglass, and also the men of the 54th whose families were affected by the New York Draft Riots. They were after all, almost entirely free and not freed men, which is something the movie very deliberately changes.

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      The movie changes a number of things, which is to be expected since Glory is not a work of history. That alternative narrative would not have sold tickets because it sat outside of popular memory of the war. It told a triumphant story of black and white Americans working out their differences as part of a war to end slavery. There are any number of things that the movie could have done to tell a more accurate and complex story.

      Is the Real Glory Part of Our History of the Civil Rights Movement?
      The 54th Massachusetts in Myth, Memory, and History
      Glory in the Classroom

      Reply
      1. Will Hickox

        Totally agree with you there. I just think it’s interesting to speculate on what a more accurate film, such as the one McPherson suggests, would have looked like.

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  6. Ray O'Hara

    I saw Lucas on the Daily show the other night.
    He acted as if he uncovered the Tuskegee story when in fact it was already the subject of a good movie starring Lawrence Fishburne and Malcolm Jamal Warner called The Tuskegee Airmen made in 1995 for cable.
    It was good movie that told the story and passed on the ego stroking bullcrap that judging from the trailer this version seems to have,

    One thing that stands out from the trailers is that CGI still can’t do believable air planes. they just can’t capture realistic air movement of them. The trailers look horribly fake .

    As for the cheap shot at Glory the 54th did have white officers, a practice continued by the Army into WWII, the 92nd Division which fought in Italy was Black troops officered by Whites. the Military until the Korean War was segregated and the upper command a bit racist. It’s an historical fact.

    There are plenty of P-51s still flying but I think most BF-109s that were used in the Battle of Britain movie have been retired from flying so I understand trying CGI. but that as I already wrote just looks horrible.

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      As for the cheap shot at Glory the 54th did have white officers, a practice continued by the Army into WWII, the 92nd Division which fought in Italy was Black troops officered by Whites. the Military until the Korean War was segregated and the upper command a bit racist. It’s an historical fact.

      Of course you can find racism among white officers, but Lucas made a specific reference to “cannon fodder” and I rarely came across this in the correspondence of white officers from the Civil War. In fact, more often than not, these men had positive things to say about these men, which is not surprising since it reflected on their own reputation as officers.

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      1. Ray O'Hara

        the “cannon foddr” line was a throw away line by Lucas and calling Infantry “fodder for the guns” has been used for troops since the cannon was developed.
        It imo ranks low on the outrage scale that Lucas used it. His point was trying to sell his movie , what worries me more is that it will be more towards the propaganda side of things as that is the trend Hollywood has taken as of late

        The Tuskegee story is a bit unique in that it was Black officered, The USAAF made all pilots officers and they did the same with the Black pilots and the group even had a Black CO which was unheard of at the time.

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  7. MississippiLawyer

    The trailers I’ve seen for this movie really grind my gears because I can just smell the anachronisms oozing out of them. Some examples:

    - “How u like dat Mistah Hitla!” – words never uttered in a cockpit during WWII
    - Their NBA/NFL “We Fight” chant just seems so out of place in a film that takes place almost 70 years ago.
    - Throwing their hands up while posing for a picture outside their plane reeks of modern times. Google Image Search Tuskegee Airmen and see if any of them are doing anything remotely like that. They were mostly college educated men.

    I dunno, I guess they are trying to make it hip or whatever so modern kids can get into it, but the dialogue doesn’t only sound anachronistic it sounds like war movie cliche garbage.

    Really makes me sad because I love the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. I feel this is going to be a bomb and an embarrassment just like that Spike Lee movie about the 92nd Division.

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  8. London John

    Small point: the 54th Massachussetts were surely not USCT. I understand the USCT was set up to stop less scrupulous states than Mass. filling their quotas with liberated/escaped slaves.

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Rob is correct. Your point about quotas is an oversimplification of why these units were created.

      Reply
  9. Robert Welch

    It was not Lucas’ intent to historically connect the USCTs with the Tuskegee airmen and his hip new movie about them. It was not his intent to tell the long story of African-Americans in the United States Army, and the change in recognition and treatment. It was simply Lucas’ intent to get five more people into the movie theater to see his new movie from the audience. Historical accuracy and historical research has only advanced enough in movies to quiet the few people like us who actually care about the content, and not the CGI, etc. This is a lowest common denominator movie, as all historical movies are, made to rake in cash without consideration of anything else. Why we continue these arguments about intent, accuracy, historicism, etc., with every new release is beyond me.

    By the way, the TV trailer for the movie with the hip-hop background music really cheesed me off.

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      1. Robert Welch

        I do. I’m not a fan of Hollywood, and while there are times that it produces emotionally moving and true-to-life stories, it’s rarely done to educate. Glory was made because a perceived financial market existed for the film to capitalize upon.

        I didn’t mean to sound so curmudgeonly in my post. Ideally, an educated person could see this movie, and then immediately make a trip to the bookstore (should said dying creature still exist in their town) and find out more. And then they could make connections to other historical eras. I just didn’t see the meme between Lucas’ comments and the development of the conversation on the CTs.

        I’m going to go yell at the kids on my lawn now.

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    1. Will Hickox

      I’m getting a little tired of the constant “it’s not a documentary, so don’t complain about historical inaccuracies” observation, or variations thereof. Most of us contributing to this thread seem to be aware that “Glory” and “Red Tails” are fictional films and that such films are primarily motivated by ticket sales (as I already observed). The problem as I see it as a history student is that most Americans aren’t well-versed in history and will take Lucas’s remarks and what they seen in movies as the truth. While there is certainly a “larger truth” to be learned about the fight for freedom in “Glory” and possibly “Red Tails,” Lucas’s comments show that the devil is in the details. When people post comments such as the above to this thread, I always wonder why they are reading a discussion of historical inaccuracies in film if it annoys them so much.

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      1. Ray O'Hara

        The problem is lot of people actually think these films are accurate.

        Whenever they say “based on actual events” it is best to envision a pyramd based on its point and expanding from there.

        and it’s not like they can’t make movies that remain true to history and still be entertaining, two westerns James Keach’s The Long Riders about the James-Younger Gang and Emilio Estevez’s Young Guns about Billy The Kid are two examples of good flicks that don’t commit outrages against history.

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        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          The problem is lot of people actually think these films are accurate.

          Why is this a problem? People believe all kinds of nutty things. Hollywood entertains. Sometimes it does so around historical events.

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          1. Ray O'Hara

            It’s a problem when people don’t know the truth, you as a history teacher should understand that.
            take that movie U-571 a total fantasy that never happened, we didn’t steal a sub like that , we had nothing to do with the capture of the Enigma Machine yet now a whole segment of our population sees that movie and thinks that’s what happened. It’s just wrong
            Would you be so cavalier about a movie about Stonewall’s two brigades of Black Soldiers? I think not. in fact you spend half your time fighting the very idea, one movie would make all your efforts wasted

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            1. Kevin Levin Post author

              It’s a problem when people don’t know the truth, you as a history teacher should understand that.

              Thanks for reminding me what I should understand. It comes down to the fact that my beliefs are my responsibility. As a teacher I am responsible for challenging my students to think critically and ask questions. That is not the job of a movie director/producer. Their job is to make entertaining movies.

              Would you be so cavalier about a movie about Stonewall’s two brigades of Black Soldiers? I think not. in fact you spend half your time fighting the very idea, one movie would make all your efforts wasted.

              I would respond to a movie about Jackson’s two brigades of black soldiers in the same way that I respond to any movie that is based around history. You have no idea how I measure success in the classroom, in a room full of k-12 teachers or on the Internet.

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              1. Ray O'Hara

                You can never reach the audience a movie can. if innacurate movies aren’t at least pointed out as inaccurate history will lose and we might as well stop trying to teach it,
                Critical thinking can be taught in science or philosophy, we don’t history classes for that.

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                1. Kevin Levin Post author

                  You can never reach the audience a movie can.
                  I never suggested I could.

                  if innacurate movies aren’t at least pointed out as inaccurate history will lose and we might as well stop trying to teach it,
                  I do my job as best as I can.

                  Critical thinking can be taught in science or philosophy, we don’t history classes for that.
                  You clearly don’t know what you are talking about. It’s the most important skill that I teach in my classroom and in teacher workshops. I know plenty of history teachers around the country who do so as well.

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                  1. Ray O'Hara

                    But if the truth doesn’t matter and critical thinking can be taught in other courses, especially philosophy which is dedicated to teaching critical thinking we can just stop teaching history and lay off all those teachers and save the school system some money

                    Historians has the obligation to try to get the story right.
                    Critical thinking without facts to be critically considered will reach thew wrong conclusions

                    last post from me on this point

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                    1. Kevin Levin Post author

                      Facts and evidence don’t speak for themselves. They must be interpreted, which is a critical/analytical act. How can these possibly be seen as mutually exclusive choices?

  10. Bryan Cheeseboro

    The same day I saw “Glory” was the day I finished Joseph Glathaar’s excellent book “Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers.” Granted, that was 22 years ago. From what I remember of that book, it there were enough stories in it to defy the idea that the White officers purposely sent their Black soldiers to the slaughter. In fact, some of the officers were aboitionists, like Robert Gould Shaw and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

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    1. London John

      I believe the Higginson you mention is traduced in Glory, as he commanded a unit that corresponds in role to the contraband regiment and its racist commander shown in the film.

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  11. Margaret D. Blough

    Well, for starters, there IS no other way that Glory could have been told. Its officers WERE white, as were almost all USCT officers.

    My opinion of Lucas has gone down considerably. The 54th was no cannon fodder. It was, intentionally, recruited from the very elite of young Black men of the time, including sons of Frederick Douglass (Douglass had to be talked out of joining himself). Gov. Andrews was a passionate advocate of black troops and, IIRR, wanted at least some black officers for the 54th and its brother regiment the 55th but was turned down by Washington. Unlike the USCT regiments, the 54th and 55th were officially enrolled state volunteer infantry regiments. The movie was not just about Shaw but much of it was told from the perspective of the troops (a valid criticism of the movie was that it actually described USCT composition and pre-war experiences more than it did that of the 54th).

    To me, it’s like the difference between “Mississippi Burning” and “Ghosts of Missippi” both of which got the black event treated as a whites only event. For me, “Mississippi Burning” was an atrocity that perverted what actually happened. The only reason the FBI got involved in the case of the missing civil rights workers was that President Johnson forced Hoover to do so and all the movie seemed to be about was the FBI and local whites with Blacks being rather passive bystanders. Also, for me, “Ghosts of Mississippi” was an entirely different movie. I think its title described what it was about. It was how Mississippi finally was able to confront one of its historical ghosts, Medgar Evers, and finally bring his murderer to justice. If Beckwith had been tried at the time of the murder, he certainly would have been acquitted as Emmett Till’s were. It dealt with the white community’s desire to pretend those times had never happened with involvement at the highest levels of white society in unspeakable crimes.

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    1. Bryan Cheeseboro

      I’ve noticed that some filmmakers make controversial statements like George Lucas did here upon the release of their own movies. so maybe this is not so much a felt belief of Lucas as it is an attempt to use controversy to sell his movie.

      I also agree that “Glory” did better telling the story from the “white man’s burden” aspect, thus making it a mainstream (i.e. White majority) movie. Had “Glory” been written and left out the White officer roles, solely focusing on the Black enlisted soldiers, many white people might have avoided the film and it might not have gotten picked up by Tri Star Pictures and the film might have ended up a low-budget TV movie. Back in 1989, the story of Blacks in US history as something other than slaves- how many of us knew that before the movie came out- was far too important to end up as a low-budget, limited TV movie.

      And I know that many didn’t like the fact that the film portrayed the 54th Massachusetts as a collection of runaway former slaves rather than men who had lived without slavery for many years in the North. Again, I think the film did the best it could with what it had. I don’t think much of the American public in 1989 knew anything about the antebellum free Black population of the North. No disrespect but I don’t think a lot of people could name 10 free Northern Blacks of the 19th Century to this day. If Glory had been written as the 54th Massachusetts actually existed, I think the film would have been dismissed as unbelieveable, politically correct and even racist for minimizing slavery.

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      1. Ray O'Hara

        Free Northern Blacks are the most overlooked and forgotten group in the Civil War,
        they might not have existed from the way history treats them

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  12. Pat Young

    Lucas looked a bit out of it during the interview. He was really comparing the movie Red Tails to the movie Glory, not the 54th to the Tuskegee airmen, one of whom I had the honor to know (he was revered in our village). He seemed to be saying “if you can see just one black war movie, see mine.” Overall, Lucas’s remarks were silly and Stewart implied as much by asking if James Earle Jones shows up at the end.

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    1. Ray O'Hara

      I would give the exact opposite advice, If you can see only one see Glory.
      It just seems like a better movie regardless of any history.

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  13. Phil Bryant

    If Lucas’ intention was to create controversial buzz, I think he succeeded.

    I’ve read extensively on both the 54th, Blue Eyed Child of Fortune (from Shaw’s letters home), A Brave Black Regiment (Louis Emilio, an officer in the 54th), and the standards used to induct white officers into the USCT (the 54th and 55th did retain thier state volunteer status while the USCT can be considered as Regular regiments) and the process was almost akin to today’s OCS, something very different for the time period. They weeded out anyone who didn’t want to be an officer of black troops because they wanted advancement alone, but a sense of duty and sincerety. Lucas’ statement was solely for his audience, had he been in front of some symposia of noted historians I doubt he would have been so stupid. But his words will be remembered now forever on YouTube!

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  14. Bryan Cheeseboro

    I met a reenactor who was in “Glory” (I think he was the man Shaw told to “Deploy skirmishers, Captain!” after the unit’s first combat) who told me that they filmed over 9 hours in the making of the movie. I’ve also heard that it takes three or four hours of filming to make an hour of movie. I don’t know the truth of this but the point is, 9 hours of “Glory” movie is not unusual for films. Anyway, the reenactor told me he hoped someday the whole 9 hours would be released on video. I don’t think that wish will ever come true. I had hoped that maybe in 2009, a special 20th anniversary director’s cut would be released with maybe an additional 30-40 minutes added to the film. That didn’t happen, either. Maybe it will for the 25th anniversary, though I won’t hold my breath.

    If you want to see extra scenes that didn’t make the final cut, they are on the two-disc special edition. There are deleted scenes plus some are used in the documentary “The true Story of Glory Continues.” Some are also featured in a special picture book that was put out by Kodak years ago.

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Thanks, Bryan. A few years back I conducted an interview in Washington, D.C. with three reenactors from the movie, which I used in my forthcoming book on the Crater.

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      1. Margaret D. Blough

        I remember listening to Brian Pohanka discussing being a historical adviser on the film (he also had a small role; you can see him at the head of some Union soldiers in the Antietam segment at the beginning.). One of the biggest problems they had was regarding extras. It wasn’t enough to just have people standing around in the background. They needed men to play soldiers in the 54th and they needed to be able to perform at least the basics of Civil War drill. It wasn’t like filming “Gettysburg” when many reenactors would have paid Ron Maxwell to be in the film. At the time “Glory” was filmed, there were very few, if any, black reenactor so they had to literally recruit men off the street. Brian and some of the other advisers took them to Civil War era forts in DC to teach them the basics of CW drill. He said he found it a valuable experience for him because it gave him some feeling for what US Regulars who had the difficult job of turning raw recruits into soldiers had to deal with. Some of those extras retained an interest in reenacting and a representative of the reenactors’ unit that portrays the 54th spoke at Brian’s memorial service at Manassas NB.

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        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          All three of the men who I interviewed went on to do outreach work in area schools. None of them remember learning about black Civil War soldiers in school and one commented that it helped him to link the Civil War with the civil rights movement.

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