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Author Topic: They Died With Their Boots On (1941)  (Read 3716 times)
titoli
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« on: June 22, 2009, 02:15:02 AM »

9\10

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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 04:53:56 AM »

I haven't seen it in quite a while but I remember liking it as a kid.

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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009, 06:41:47 AM »

I had seen it more than 30 years ago too. But I remembered it wrongly as politically incorrect towards Indians..

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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2009, 06:57:47 AM »

I've only seen parts of it. I seem to recall Anthony Quinn as Crazy Horse.

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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2009, 10:49:29 AM »

9\10

Ditto  Afro

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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2011, 11:58:49 PM »

Saw it tonight, liked it a lot (9/10 maybe a bit high though). Historically it's a joke but it's great entertainment, so who cares? I'll try and write a full review tomorrow.

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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2011, 03:56:57 AM »

just saw it for the first time, playing on TCM. I can't understand why you guys loved it so much. I'd give it a 6.5/10

(I am just judging it purely as cinema; I am not in any way comparing it to any true facts).

The film does have some nice moments. The scenes between Flynn and de Havilland are really good; their final scene together, as Custer goes to off to what they both know will likely be his final battle, is absolutely incredible.

I generally do not like Flynn; I always thought he was nothing more than a passable actor, and this film is no exception.

I  never liked those movies where it seems like every character -- except for the main one --is a fool. So just about every soldier, politician, and every male in any authority position is stupid and wrong about everything, and Custer is right. If only they could see it his way, right? I mean, I know some of it may be loosely based on true historical facts. But it is very frustrating as a viewer to be told that you have to believe that pretty much everyone is wrong all the time, except for one man.

Overall, this is a film that has some nice moments, but does not put it all together.

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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2011, 10:27:35 AM »

Wrote this just after seeing it:

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Raoul Walsh's They Died With Their Boots On (1941) is pretty much *the* textbook example of Hollywood's chicanery with historical facts. It's also a rousing, action-packed historical epic with Errol Flynn at his most charming and heroic. So why complain?

George Armstrong Custer (Errol Flynn) is an ambitious, somewhat pompous young man who aspires to be a glorious soldier. He bumbles his way through West Point, nursing a rivalry with fellow cadet Sharp (Arthur Kennedy) and earning a record number of demerits. And yet he cultivates friendships with bigwigs Philip Sheridan (John Litel) and Winfield Scott (Sydney Greenstreet), so that when the Civil War breaks out he's given a cavalry command. His recklessness and insubordination pays off, especially at Gettysburg, where he helps turn the tide against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. After the war, accompanied by wife Libby (Olivia de Havilland), Custer is posted out west and takes command of the 7th Cavalry, a rowdy, undisciplined unit he moulds into a superb fighting force. Custer's career is put in peril when his old "pal" Sharp shows up as the head of a railroad company. When Custer refuses to allow Sharp passage into the Black Hills, Sharp tricks settlers into starting a gold rush - leading to war with Sioux leader Crazy Horse (Anthony Quinn) and, ultimately, Custer's Last Stand.

George Custer is a fascinating historical personage, who has come to embody (depending on your point-of-view) frontier heroism or white imperialism. A mixture of good motives and bad, egomania and heroism, respect for Indians and willingness to wage war on them, Custer is ideal for a really good biopic. And yet no film has adequately captured his complex personality. John Ford's Fort Apache is probably closest to the truth, though Henry Fonda's Colonel Thursday lacks the historical Custer's respect for Indian culture. We can disregard Little Big Man's clownish caricature altogether, I think, and other efforts (Custer of the West) are uninteresting duds. Which leaves us with this film, the purest embodiment of the Custer myth.

The inaccuracies of They Died With Their Boots On will give even a novice history buff apoplexy. The Civil War scenes are patently ridiculous, with Custer winning the Battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg single-handedly through rank insubordination. The movie is sympathetic (if condescending) towards the Indians, conveniently blaming the Sioux War on the sleazy Sharps, crooked profiteers who sell liquor and guns to the Indians while building railroads into their territory. Tsk tsk. In the finale, Walsh has his cake and eats it too: Custer's last stand is heroic in spite of its injustice, a noble and suicidal gesture rather than a mixture of incompetence and hubris.

The film's portrayal of Custer is all over the place. Flynn and Walsh highlight Custer's preening egomania (he arrives at West Point in a self-made uniform with gold trim, and a team of dogs) but don't see anything wrong with it; along with his constant insubordination, the film sees it as endearing. Custer's rash and self-destructive actions at Little Big Horn are a natural outgrowth of this, but the film's contrived plot ignores the connection. Needless to say, Custer's less heroic actions - the Washita Massacre, his role in triggering the Black Hills debacle - are completely elided. Between this film, Patton and a million lesser examples, I guess us Americans like our military heroes disobedient.

We've dwelt on the historical/political side of things long enough, I think. It's not like anybody goes to an Errol Flynn film for a history lesson, anyway (see Charge of the Light Brigade). Time to examine its merits as entertainment.

They Died With Their Boots On is a real treat for classic movie buffs seeking light entertainment. Most of the fighting is depicted only in stylish montages, but the two big battle scenes (Bull Run and Little Big Horn) are thrillingly staged, with lots of extras and Bert Glennon's beautiful wide-angle cinematography. It's a beautiful film to watch and it definitely delivers its promise of exciting, breakneck action, perfectly complemented by Max Steiner's rousing score. We don't mind inaccuracy when the story is so damned enjoyable.

The most impressive thing about the film is how well-crafted it is. In just over two hours, Walsh covers Custer's time at West Point, the Civil War and the Indian Wars, mixing in a romance and personal character conflicts for good measure. And yet, the film never drags and maintains an engaging pace throughout. The Sharps are cartoon villains but the Custer-Libby romance is sweet and well-handled, and the comic relief isn't out of place. Historical figures like Scott, Sheridan and Ulysses Grant (Joseph Crehan) are so vividly-rendered that we don't mind that, say, Sheridan was an obscure Lieutenant when Custer was at West Point. How Walsh and writers Wally Kline and Aeneas MacKenzie made this film so smooth and breezy is beyond me, but they deserve enormous credit.

Errol Flynn is perfect. This might well be his best role, his swaggering, heroic persona a perfect fit for the movie's Custer. The film requires more dramatic heavy-lifting than his usual fare and he's up for the big scenes - his confrontations with Sharp and disapproving superiors, his romance with Libby - but, of course, he's most at home in the action scenes, whether brawling with Sharp's goons or facing death at the hands of a 6,000 angry Sioux. Flynn is a perfect fit for this role, and he makes Custer's tortured characterization credible.

Olivia de Havilland (who else?) is Custer's devoted wife. If she's not as radiant or engaging a character as in The Adventures of Robin Hood, de Havilland still has perfect chemistry with Flynn and gets enough screen time to make Libby endearing in her own right. Arthur Kennedy (The Man from Laramie) is perfectly-cast as the sleazy Sharp. Anthony Quinn gives a dues-paying performance as Crazy Horse, the less said about which the better. The supporting cast is full of dependable character talent: familiar faces like Sidney Greenstreet (Casablanca), Gene Lockhart (Hangmen Also Die!), John Litel (My Dog Rusty) and Hattie McDaniel (Gone With the Wind) put in memorable appearances.

Overall, They Died With Their Boots On is superlative entertainment. Anyone taking the movie seriously is a fool; this is pure Hollywood hokum of the most enjoyable kind.  8/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2011/02/they-died-with-their-boots-on.html

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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2011, 12:14:43 PM »

I always enjoy reading your reviews, Groggy  Afro

But I can't like a film in which I find myself rolling my eyes half the time. I mean, Custer was basically a little kid who never followed an order but was never wrong. I can't buy that.

I'm glad you mentioned Patton as well. As good a movie as that is -- and as spectacular as George C. Scott was -- I don't consider it to be a classic. Some of the Patton shtick really annoyed me. I know that he definitely marched to the beat of his own drum -- they called him Blood and Guts Patton for a reason. However, -- though I am no historian -- I can't imagine it was like they made him out in the movie. They wanted me to believe that in middle of perhaps history's biggest war, one of the most important generals was -- in addition to being a brilliant military tactician -- like an annoying little kid. Again, the movie asked me to accept something that I didn't find plausible. I can't just accept something because the movie says I should. Don't get me wrong, I really  Patton very much. But that one issue really bothered me

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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2016, 10:35:41 PM »

Just saw the movie on TCM, my second viewing.

I rolled my eyes through most of the first approx. 4/5 of the movie. But the last 1/5 or so is very good: starting from the scene in which Custer says farewell to his wife before leaving for his final battle.

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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2016, 07:40:02 AM »

True West magazine (May/June 2001 Custer issue, the most sought-after issue of True West) pretty much gives Custer credit with saving the Union at Gettysburg because he kept charging with the Michigan cavalry (I hate when people get it wrong with "calvary" in films, as I doubt that folks back then would have been unfamiliar with the word).

At Little Big Horn, apparently Custer would have been put up on military charges if he did NOT attack and control the Indians.  There he was significantly out-manned (poor scouting reports, or maybe just not believed) and out-armed as some Indians had repeating rifles.

Remember more recently, early reports out of Europe about mass killings in WW2 were shaken off as myth because the numbers were too large to be believable.

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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2016, 08:26:57 AM »

At Little Big Horn, apparently Custer would have been put up on military charges if he did NOT attack and control the Indians.  There he was significantly out-manned (poor scouting reports, or maybe just not believed) and out-armed as some Indians had repeating rifles.
A huge advantage.

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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2016, 12:44:16 PM »



Remember more recently, early reports out of Europe about mass killings in WW2 were shaken off as myth because the numbers were too large to be believable.

Which mass killings do you mean?

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