T. It.: I Ragazzi Della Via Paal; Sog.: Dal Romanzo “A Pàl-Utcai Fiùk” (I Ragazzi Della Via Paal) Di Ferenc Molnàr; Scen.: Jo Swerling; F.: Joseph H. August; Mo.: Viola Lawrence; Scgf.: Stephen Goossón; Mu.: Louis Silvers; Su.: Glenn Rominger; Int.: George P. Breakston (Erno Nemecsek), Frankie Darro (Feri Ats), Jackie Searl (Geréb), Jimmy Butler (Boka), Donald Haines (Csónakos), Rolf Ernest (Ferdie Pasztor), Julius Molnar (Henry Pasztor), Wesley Giraud (Kolnay), Lois Wilson (Madre Di Nemecsek), Beaudine Anderson (Csele), Bruce Line (Richter), Christian Rub (Vigilante), Samuel S. Hinds (Padre Di Geréb), Ralph Morgan (Andros Nemecsek, Il Padre), Egon Brecher (Rasz), Frank Reicher (Il Dottore), Tom Ricketts (Portiere), Christian Rub (Il Guardiano), Harvey Clark (Cliente), Howard Leeds, Basil Bookasta, Bob Wagner (“Camicie Rosse”), Eddie Buzzard, Douglas Greer (Ragazzi Della Via Paal); Prod.: Frank Borzage Per Columbia Pictures Corporation; Pri. Pro.: 4 Maggio 1934; 35mm. D.: 74′. Bn.
“Borzage took his inspiration from another work by Ferenc Molnàr (Liliom), the novel The Boys from Pal Street (A Pàl-utcai fiùk), published in Budapest in 1907. This was one of the most popular of Hungarian children’s books, translated into innumerable languages, transposed to the stage in 1936 and 1954 and adapted to the screen five times. (…) Initially the pedagogical interest of Molnàr’s novel was its illustration of the symptoms of adolescence. (….) But after the holocaust of 1914-1918, the war epic of the boys of Pest assumed an extra dimension, because it revealed nolens volens the mechanisms of manipulation which leads to conflict. The aim of Borzage and Swerling is thus to demonstrate ‘the futility of war, whether conducted by adults or by children’. It is as a result of this eminently pacifistic intention that Molnar’s story undergoes two slight distortions. Borzage adds a prologue, and makes Nemecsek die not in bed but on the ‘field’ of battle (…). No Greater Glory relates the clash between two rival bands of schoolboys. We are far from the war of hoodlums with which films like Blackboard Jungle and West Side Story and more recently Rumble Fish have made us familiar; here the protagonists are not antisocial layabouts who work out their frustrations in a violence as gratuitous as bloody, but good scholars, who, on the contrary, aspire to imitate the ‘grown-ups’, mimicking with laughable results their discipline, their words and their precepts. They reflect the ‘values’ of the dominant ideology, translating in miniature the antagonisms of the adults. (…) It is undoubtedly in the description of fanaticism that these boys fail to bring to their ‘games’ a critical spirit. But Borzage rejects easy schematism. He is subtle enough to admit the coexistence, in the child’s mind, of a certain combativeness, of a legitimate thirst for heroism and chivalrous virtues. In adversity, even imaginary, these boys show courage and generosity, unselfishness and loyalty. It is not the gun that makes the fascist. And it is the perversion of these qualities due to a warlike and nationalistic education which is denounced. The film implicitly exposes the arbitrariness of rank, the inanity of the phraseology of those in command (‘Conquer or die’), the gregarious instinct, the pleasure of submission, the blind idealisation of the chief”.
Hervé Dumont, Frank Borzage. Sarastro à Hollywood, Mazzotta- Cinémathèque Frangaise, Musée du Cinéma, Paris-Milano, 1993