Entry 37: Jimmy Stewart and the Cruel War

Shenandoah. Directed by Andrew W. McLaglen. Written by James Lee Barrett.

Release Date: June 3, 1965.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy, so it took me a lot longer to get around to watching Shenandoah than I’d originally planned. My inspiration for watching it was Kevin Levin’s review of Free State of Jones. Arguing for Jones‘s originality, he says:

Even Shenandoah, released in 1965 and starring Jimmy Stewart as Charlie Anderson (the head of a family that includes four strapping young men who somehow evade the draft), fails to turn against the Confederacy. By the end of the film, the loss of his children and the destruction of his farm leaves Anderson confused and disillusioned about the futility of all wars.

Mostly unfamiliar with the film, I decided to watch it and test my own impressions against Levin’s. What I found was that Shenandoah is more anti-Confederate than Levin thinks it is, but hedges its bets by making war itself the true enemy.

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Entry 22: John Wayne [almost] Saves Lawrence, Kansas

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Dark Command. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Written by Grover Jones, Lionel Houser, F. Hugh Herbert, and Jan Fortune. Based on the novel, The Dark Command: A Kansas Iliad, by W. R. Burnett.

Release Date: April 15, 1940.

The McWhirter family is cancelling its Amazon Prime subscription, so I’m racing through a handful of Civil War movies I’d placed in my queue. The Conspirator was up first but the next few reach back further into Hollywood history. Today’s movie, Dark Command, is an interesting case because it focuses on Kansas and especially William Quantrill (which it mistakenly calls “Cantrell”). It also stars a young John Wayne and his charisma propels the film. Unfortunately, his presence also ensures this is really just a Western grafted onto a Civil War story. Read More