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The Power and the Glory is a 1933 film starring Spencer Tracy and Colleen Moore, written by Preston Sturges, and directed by William K. Howard. It was Sturges' first script, which he delivered complete in the form of a finished shooting script, for which he received $17,500 and a percentage of the profits. Though this is now a common practice in Hollywood, it was unusual at the time and garnered much attention.

The film, told through flashbacks, is often cited as the prototype for Citizen Kane. Tracy's powerful performance in a boardroom scene is widely considered one of his most thrilling sequences as an actor.

The film was loosely based by Sturges on the life of C.W. Post, his second wife's grandfather, who founded the Postum Cereal Company, which later became General Foods. Like Tom Garner, the lead character in The Power and the Glory. Post worked his way up from the bottom, and ended his own life, but otherwise, according to Sturges, their lives did not correspond.


After the funeral service for Tom Garner (Spencer Tracy), a powerful and much-hated railroad tycoon who committed suicide, his best friend, Henry (Ralph Morgan), recalls Garner's life, his family problems, and his rise from track walker to president of the railroad.


Cast notes


Preston Sturges originally wrote the script as a freelance project after being let go by Universal Pictures. He told the story to producer Jesse L. Lasky, who had his own unit at Fox, who requested a treatment. Sturges refused to do a treatment, and instead delivered a finished shooting script, which Lasky said was "the most perfect script I'd ever seen," with nothing that needed to be trimmed. Sturges offered the script to Lasky for $62,475, but Lassky instead structured a deal in which Sturges got $17,500 upon signing, 3 1/2% of the first $500,000 in receipts, 5% of the next $500,000, and 7% of all receipts over $1,000,000. Such a percentage deal was highly unusual at that time, and caused an uproar among producers and writers.

Both director William K. Howard and Spencer Tracy were supposed to have worked on Marie Galantemarker, but when it was postponed, they were transferred to The Power and the Glory. Irene Dunne and Mary Astor were both considered for the part of "Sally Garner," eventually played by Colleen Moore. Moore was lent to Fox by MGM, as was Helen Vinson, and had not appeared in a film since 1929.

The film was in production from 23 March to late April , with some re-shooting in June 1933. It had originally been set to begin in late February 1933, but was postponed several times.

Location shooting took place at the Hasson station beyond the Santa Susana Passmarker, using the largest locomotive in the west, leased from the Southern Pacific Railroad; and at the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, Californiamarker.

During filming, Sturges acted as the dialogue director, working with the actors much as he had done in stage rehearsals as a playwright.

The film was previewed in Los Angeles on 17 June , and after objections from the Hays Office about the sexual nature of the relationship between a stepmother ("Sally Garner") and her stepson ("Tom Garner Jr."), some re-editing was done. When this did not satisfy the censors, reshooting and more extensive re-editing was done to alleviate their concerns. The film was premiered in New York Citymarker on 16 August , and was generally released on 6 October of that year. Fox coined the word "narratage" to describe the non-chronological narration of the story.


Although the film was well received by critics, and Spencer Tracy's performance was especially praised, the film did not do well at the box office, except in New York City. By the end of 1940, it had grossed a little over a half-million dollars, which meant that Sturges had only received about $2000 over his advance. By 1957 it had grossed around a million.

Sturges' screenplay was widely praised. It was published in book form in 1934, and he received the 1933 Hollywood Reporter Award of Merit for Best Original Story.


  1. American Masters Preston Sturges
  2. TCM Notes
  3. TCM Overview
  4. IBDB Preston Sturges

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