The Glory Boys

The Glory Boys

Drama, Action, War | 139 mins | Released: 1984
Director: Michael Fergerson
Starring: Rod Steiger, Anthony Perkins, Alfred Burke, Joanna Lumley, Sallyanne Law, Aaron Harris, Gary Brown
Our Rating: 7

In The Glory Boys, an alcoholic ex-government agent is brought back into service to stop two ideologically-disparate terrorists that have met up in London to assassinate a visiting Israeli nuclear scientist. This three-part thriller from novelist Gerald Seymour stars Rod Steiger, Anthony Perkins and Joanna Lumley. Palestinian radicals have a plan to gun down top Israeli nuclear scientist David Sokarev (Steiger), who is on an official visit to London. To assist them, the Palestinians have called on the help of the IRA. Now two men, Abdel El-Famy, and the IRA’s man, Kieran McCoy, are haunting the streets of London waiting for the moment to strike. Now it’s down to one man, a special security agent known as Jimmy (Perkins). Past his prime, unreliable and ill-disciplined, he’s also an old hand at this kind of game. He can be an expert and efficient player and, when called upon to do so, a ruthless, cold killer.

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Movie Notes:

According to the only TV Guide review, the made-for-British television, The Glory Boys shoots itself in the foot by relying too much on convoluted plot twists and not enough on character development.

Arab terrorist Famy (Gary Brown) is bent on killing famed Israeli nuclear scientist Dr. David Sokarev (Rod Steiger). In London, he joins with Kirin McCoy (Aaron Harris) a thrill-seeking IRA terrorist who shares an interest in Sokarev’s assassination. In Washington D.C., Sokarev, informed of the conspiracy, tries to cancel his itinerary, but the government refuses, believing it will send a message of capitulation to terrorism. He reluctantly proceeds to his London engagement under the protection of veteran security agent Jimmy (Anthony Perkins), an alcoholic with a maverick streak. The terrorists botch their hit and split up. Wounded McCoy stays at the suburban home of Norah (Salleyanne Law), a local girl who inexplicably loves the brutal killer. Police catch McCoy, and Jimmy pries out of him Famy’s next plan: to kill Sokarev at Heathrow Airport.

Jimmy leads his men in a race against time and manages to collar the Arab. Driven by vague, private motivations or perhaps just a violent impulse, Jimmy executes Famy right there on the tarmac. On the plane ride back home, Sokarev suffers a heart attack and dies. Jimmy, now unemployed and back to his business of full-time drinking, hears the news, and the picture ends with him drunkenly laughing at the irony.

Gerald Seymour’s script, based on his own novel, is certainly full of fast-paced action, but primary motivations of the characters are unclear. We never learn Jimmy’s true reason for killing or drinking; he just does both with no reflection. More political analysis right from the beginning would also have shored up the story’s foundation. Racing between too many locales, The Glory Boys has three editors, and it looks as if they each made their own cut and then haphazardly spliced them together. Performances are generally solid. Making the most of a rare good-guy lead, Perkins’ Jimmy is quirky and fun to watch, Steiger’s resigned Sokarev suitably moving. But when protagonists seem to so randomly choose death over life, we are left with no glory. (Violence, alcohol abuse, adult situations.)

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