What Price Glory? begins in a French farmhouse serving as a U.S. Marine headquarters in World War I. Three enlisted men, Gowdy, Kiper, and Lipinsky, are cynically discussing their motivations for volunteering for duty in France. Sergeant Quirt then appears, announcing that he is “the new top soldier here,” and abruptly dismisses Kiper and Gowdy. After receiving a briefing from Lipinsky, the company clerk, on the sad state of the company, Quirt “briskly” leaves headquarters to find Captain Flagg, the company commander.
Flagg, however, enters soon after Quirt exits. Charmaine, described as a “drab,” follows closely at his heels. She is distraught over the possibility that Flagg might leave her. He takes her by the shoulders and assures her that he will come back; it will only be “eight days in Paris.” Private Lewisohn then enters, reports in, and tells Flagg that he has lost his identification tags. The captain quickly dismisses him but asks Kiper to get him a new tag because “the God-forsaken fool’s dying from grief away from mother.” Quirt then reenters. During the course of their conversation, which primarily involves Flagg’s description of the merits of his company, the captain reveals that he was a corporal under Quirt in China. Even more revealing is the fact that a woman evidently was involved in their quarrel, which continued when Quirt first served under Flagg in Cuba. Quirt is then introduced to Flagg’s platoon leaders: Lieutenants Aldrich, Moore, Schmidt, and Sockel, who knows Quirt from Cuba. With a quick farewell, Flagg departs with his company, leaving Quirt alone with a cup of dice until Charmaine enters. He asks her for a date; she quickly refuses until Lipinsky and Gowdy bring in a rowdy Irishman. Quirt, after repeatedly telling Mulcahy to “pipe down,” dispatches the recalcitrant with a blow to the jaw. The scene ends with Quirt and Charmaine kissing.
Scene 2 opens with the news that Flagg has been imprisoned for ten days on an attempted manslaughter charge, brought against him while he was in a drunken fit. He enters, still...
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