July 4, 2008
This 1935 drama is set on the home front over the duration of the Civil War, in the home of a family of Southern aristocracy. One by one, the men go off to war.
Charles is the first to go. He’s literally the harbinger of war, riding up on a horse in the middle of the night, rallying recruits. He’s Captain George McGehee of the newly-formed Mississippi Cavalry , a gung-ho Southern gentleman, excitable but with great manners, sort of a fool. He asks for the female lead’s hand in marriage, gets shot down, gathers his troops and rides off to the war, and though the gal reads a battlefield letter from him, we never see him again. We don’t even know if he dies.
Despite having some big talent attached to it, powerhouse producer Adolph Zukor and director King Vidor, the film is rarely shown. I would imagine this is mainly because of its awful portrait of the freed slaves as naughty misbehaving children.
Hearing Charley’s Southern accent, I realized that Charley isn’t doing any sort of accent in his Durango roles. Just that deliberate “movie voice” of his.
The male lead is played by another future B-Western star, Randolph Scott.