Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Randolph Scott and Margaret Sullavan; guess who loves whom
SO RED THE ROSE (1935). Director: King Vidor.

When the Civil War breaks out it deeply affects the Southern Bedford family, run by patriarch, Malcolm (Walter Connolly), who is married to Sally (Janet Beecher), with whom he has two sons (Harry Ellerbe; Dickie Moore) and a daughter, Val (Margaret Sullavan). Val is in love with a distant cousin, Duncan (Randolph Scott), but he seems completely unaware of her feelings whereas George Pendleton (Robert Cummings) has affection for Val. At first Duncan tries to be neutral, which prompts Val to accuse him of cowardice, not exactly the right way to get a romance off to a good start. But then Duncan joins up with the confederacy and off to war he goes ... This is a more or less forgotten Civil War epic made four years before Gone With the Wind, but it's a creditable film, bolstered by fine performances by Sullavan [The Good Fairy], Connolly, and others; Elizabeth Patterson [Lady on a Train] overacts a bit as old Mary Cherry but is also good. On the debit side is a lot of phony glory and the depiction of rebellious slaves as being both lazy and criminal. Johnny Downs [Trocadero] plays a Yankee soldier, a mere boy, who is temporarily hidden by the Bedfords. The film is well-photographed by Victor Milner -- one especially striking shot shows Sullavan running past a tree into the sun.

Verdict: Anything with Sullavan in it is of interest, but this is not a bad movie despite flaws. ***.

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