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 Post subject: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:28 am 
So we were discussing films at work and got on to the topic of the worst films in every genre that we had seen.

That leads to the obvious question of what is the WORST Civil War film you have ever seen? (Not including battlefield slideshows or short films)

I have two that spring to mind. One was called "Ride with the Devl" from 1999. Any movie with Jewel and Tobey Maguire is going to be bad but this was awful. It cost 35 million to make but made less than a million at the box office... smart...

Another is an independent film I saw a while back. I wish I could remember the title but the story was about three Rebs whose lives you follow in flashbacks as they are out on the picket line in the Wilderness. Then they all die in a flash of gunfire in an anti-climatic ending. Thats war - death. But I knew that lesson before I wasted 90 minutes of my life being retaught it!


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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:44 pm 
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Ride with the Devil "awful"?! :shock:

Maybe you you saw a different film by that name to the one I saw? RwtD is excellent I thought. Tobey Maguire is ok in it and I thought the story was generally well told. I'd definitely add it to a DVD collection ...though maybe only if I picked up a bargain copy of it.

I don't think there are too many films about the ACW to have much of a list of bad ones. A lot of them have the Civil War as a backdrop to a human drama ...say Gone with the wind for example. Most of the civil war westerns are Westerns foremost with the war again serving as an afterthought. Actually, that brings to mind "Alvarez Kelly" starring William Holden that I saw late last year. Now I thought that was bad. I rarely quit watching a film once I've sat down to it but I gave up half way through that.

In fact, even the "good" civil war films are far from perfect? I thought Gettysburg had great moments but was ultimately an uneven piece of work. Too long for a popular feature and too short as a historical presentation. I felt the musical score was terrible and the over-reliance on re-enactors a mistake.
Don't get me started on Gods & Generals. That takes a very long time getting anywhere though Stephen Lang is excellent as Jackson.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:12 pm 
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How about "Birth of a Nation"? Probably the first Civil War movie ever made, it bent history backwards although the battlefield scenes seemed strangely historical with the gunsmoke very prevalent throughout. It was a racist movie that was applauded by President Wilson. N.B. Forrest would have loved it.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:20 pm 
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Blake, the Wilderness movie you referred to is called "Wicked Spring." Yes, it was an independent movie and the acting etc. is a bit bad...actually a lot bad, but for some strange reason I have to try and own every historical war movie good or bad. There is another movie put out by the same company about Early's 64' raid to the gates of D.C. called "No Retreat from Destiny." Another bad movie, but yup, I own it. It seems strange to me given the Civil Wars popularity that there is not more films made on the subject. I am guessing too controversial. Someone is alwayd bound to say it favors the South like Gods and Generals and call it racist. Or the exact opposite and say it is South bashing.

Brig. Gen. Jerry Butley
AOS


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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:29 am 
I would love to see a fair and accurate historical portrayal of Forrest or Lee someday. It would have to be an HBO miniseries though in order to do it justice. I'd especially love to see something like the Wilderness Campaign as a 10-part series like Band of Brothers was. Perhaps they could follow a Northern and Southern unit throughout the Campaign and show the war from the soldiers viewpoint rather than from the generals as is usually done.

Birth of a Nation isnt necessarily a "bad movie" as much as it is an "important" movie. It was the first full length film and it helped pave the wave for the idea of big budget movie making that would follow. The storyline is brutally racist but its one of the few films in which the South sorta "wins" in the end. Well, not the south so much as the Klan. I watched it twice in College in film classes. The only other film ever shown multiple times was "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" with old Jimmy Stewart.

Gen. Wilkes is right when he said films with a Civil War backdrop can be pretty awful. I have watched alot of Civil War westerns (or just post-Civil War westerns) that are God-awful. I remember Alvarez Kelly vaguely and agree it was hardly worth watching.

By the way "Wicked Spring" thanks that was bugging me!


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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:06 pm 
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If you really want to see bad ACW movies, check out netflix's selection. The worst imho was called "The Battle of Aiken." Most of the independent ones have Reb heroes vs Yank villains, but that is about the only accurate thing about them.

I think Ride with the Devil and Gods and Generals were passable historically but not very entertaining.

On the other hand, I found movies like Shenandoah very entertaining but historically inaccurate. Alvarez Kelly was not as entertaining but more historically accurate.

A long time ago I saw an ACW movie starring Joe Namath and Jethro Bodine (Max Baer). This was back in the 70's and was so bad it was hilarious.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:42 pm 
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Agree with those that give "Wicked Spring" a high ranking on the "bad" list.

Disagree with those that didn't like "Ride With the Devil."

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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:47 pm 
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I also enjoyed Ride with the Devil though I really can't tell you why.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:07 pm 
Ride With the Devil (Based on a short Novel Called "Woe To Live On") was the Greatest time I have ever had at a movie.....I went to the Houston premier...Some of the Reinactors in the movie were there....I walked up to them and began talking to em, and then during formal introductions realized I recognised one of their group. When I shook his hand, I'said, I'm Hank Smith and you owe me 350 Dollars".....Everyone kinda stepped back, stunned because I was dead serious.....He kinda looked down, and then back ip and responded to his friends...."You know what, he's telling the truth".....He reached in his pocket and pulled out my cash and handed it over.....He had bought a used welding machine for me and when he picked it up my shop foreman let him walk without paying.....Oh well.....First time I ever went to the movies, and left with more money than I arrived with, and as a bonus, sat with folks that were in the movie.....One of them was also in the movie "The Patriot" and being a Lawyer wrote the reply to the British Government over their resolution protesting the accuracy of the movie. Interesting guy to talk to.....


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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:12 pm 
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What was the nature of the "Patriot" controversy? Just curious.

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 Post subject: Ride With the Devil
PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:09 pm 
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"Ride With the Devil" was a buddy movie about the relationships between Jake "Dutchy" Roedel and Jack Bull Chiles,,,, then with Holt, an ex-slave fighting for the South, which was a good protrayal of the loyalty and friendship of comrades who support each other while experiencing extreme combat dangers.
Told entirely from the viewpoint of Dutchy Roedel, a Missouri "bushwhacker" fighting for the South, the character portrayals of even bit players are often well done.
The movie had some really good and nuanced moments in it as well as some dull stretches.
When Holt and Roedel were watching murdered negro men being stacked up during the Lawrence massacre, the look, with no speaking, exchanged before they decide to go "get some eggs" spoke volumes.
I also enjoyed the relationship development between Roedel and "Jewel," as he gets railroaded into an undeserved shotgun marriage.
"Pitt" Mackeson, as a cold blooded, hating killer, dominates or captivates every scene that he is in. From the merciless murders of helpless victims to the wanton destruction by burning of their property, I found myself wishing for his comeuppance and a miserable, well deserved death.

The uniforms and battle scenes were done well and seemed realistic enough. I especially enjoyed the cavalry battle after the Lawrence raid.

Dutchy Roedel is a basically a decent man of good character who performs bravely in a vicious war, but he is extremely ordinary. He is brave but not an epic hero or even a leader. He accomplishes nothing spectacular and has no spectacular challenge to rise to greatness. He fights with courage, is repeatedly wounded, and survives the war, then marries Jewel, under social pressure, with his usual good natured acquiescence rather than protest his innocence and to preserve his freedom. He is helping out Jewel as well as a final act of loyalty to his dead buddy by raising his child as his own. Besides, he does like Jewel, although without a great passion.

I enjoyed the movie and when it appears on cable, I often check it to see whether it is about to play one of the "good" scenes.

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"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." -- Bertrand de Jouvenal


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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:29 am 
I cant imagine Hank going to the movies, lol. I dont know why but my mind rejects that notion. I can see Hank renting movies and furiously pointing out historical inaccuracies though and cursing the moviemakers. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:32 am 
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I really enjoyed Ride with the Devil. But I like Ang Lee's atmospheric, slow moving and moody style, with his insights into human nature and relationships.

I will watch Gettysburg again and again mainly because of my interest in the history of the battle but it isn't a great film and the musical score really lets it down and makes it a bit dreary. But it is much much better than Gods and Generals, which barely hangs together at all. I guess some of the battle scenes are fairly dramatic, but nowhere near as convincing as Glory. Just one man's opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Worst Civil War Movie?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:47 pm 
I'm not sure Blake has a complete handle on my habits....lol....Now, having both read the book AND seen the movie (Ride With The Devil), I can tell you that the movie was almost completely faithful to the book.....Word for Word.....Almost....When it deviated, it deviated completely....The start of the Movie never happened in the book....The book started with Jake and Company riding up on a family trying to get their wagon unstuck from the mud at a creek ford. They are wearing Union Uniforms. The leader ask the Father whether he is a "Secesch". The man, of German descent replies, "Nien, good Union man" to which the leader says, "String him up boys!" When they hoist him in the air and he is strangling to death his young teenage son (about 12) grabs a knife and attempts to cut him down. Jake immediatly shoots him in the back, straight through the heart, as quickly as he can, in order to save the boy being tortured......I guess Ang Lee did not want his main character to commit an act like that.....

The other big change was the speech Holt made after his master was killed in the fictional battle after the Lawrence Affair.....He made a big speechin the movie about feeling "free".....I guess they put that in to appease the politically correct crowd, because Holt did not make any such speech in the book, did not express anything of the sort. he left Jake and Jewell, but there was none of the "message" the movie chose to deliver. Holt was just a good "Confederate Veteran".


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