half of all U.S. Medal of Honor honorees served during the Civil War. It has
been bestowed posthumously 621 times throughout history. Currently, only
seventy-seven recipients are still living. In all ways they are the elite of
the elite. Adapting Larry Smith’s popular history of select recipients, Stephen
Lang mounted a one-man tribute show that played Off-Broadway, throughout
America, and on military bases all over the world. Cross-cutting between
several of Lang’s more notable “command performance,” director-editor Larry
Brand shows the theater piece in its entirety while conveying its wider
significance during a time of war and armed hostility in Beyond Glory (trailer
releases today on VOD.
speaking, Lang is kind of white-ish, but he plays two African Americans, one
Asian American, and several working class white ethnic Americans, without any
stilted awkwardness. After all, it would be un-American to exclude anyone on
the basis of race. There is no question each recipient’s story merits inclusion.
Of course, they all have the Medal of Honor to prove it.
William Finn’s real life heroics on December 7th put the Pearl Harbor movie to shame, as Michael
Bay would probably be the first to admit. Clarence Eugene Sasser’s Vietnam era Medal
was awarded for his efforts saving lives under enemy fire, despite the shrapnel
in his back—a distinction that means quite a bit to him. Perhaps the most
colorful character would be Lewis Millett Sr., who led the last recorded American
battlefield bayonet in Korea. James Bond Stockdale is indeed the Stockdale Ross
Perot chose as his running mate in 1992, but he should really be remembered for
the harrowing seven and a half years he spent in the Hanoi Hilton as the
highest ranking Navy POW.
his profoundly humble origins, Vietnam was almost an empowering experience for
Nicky Daniel Bacon, but that does not diminish from his battlefield heroics.
Lang seems to have the most fun playing tough talking New Yorker Hector Albert
Cafferata, Jr., who easily gets the show’s funniest lines. However, he is still
humble to a fault chronicling his actions at what would come to be known as “Fox
Hill” near Chosin Reservoir.
and Brand close with Vernon Joseph Baker and Daniel Inouye, staging limited
interaction (through the magic of editing) between the two men, both of whom
had lesser but meaningful awards upgraded to Medals of Honor in 1998 and 2000.
Their experiences also mirror each other, having served with distinction in the
Italian theater while facing racism at home and within the service.
is no shortage of moments in Beyond Glory
to choke you up and make you misty eyed. Brand’s mastercut approach is
actually quite effective at relieving the inherent staginess of Lang’s one-man
show. No matter who the actor is playing, he is always locked-in, but the
changing sets and backdrops breaks up the otherwise static visuals.
You can be confident it treats its subjects with
respect, because veteran’s advocate Gary Sinise supplied the voice of the
military announcer. Frankly, it is rather baffling that the film version of Beyond Glory has not had a more
traditional theatrical release, at least in Red State military communities
(especially with James Cameron on board as an executive producer), but it should
find a large and appreciative audience on VOD. Recommended for general
audiences, Beyond Glory is now
available on iTunes and other platforms.
Labels: Medal of Honor, One-person shows, Stephen Lang, VOD