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Confederate soldier Frank Winslow is terrified of the war and eventually runs away from battle. But when he finds himself behind enemy lines with vital information, he must decide between his fear and his conscience. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the handful of Civil War films that were rushed into production and released after D.W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION became what's probably the biggest hit of all time. This film here deals with Confederate soldier Frank Winslow (Charles Ray) who is terrified of the war and runs away as a battle is about to begin. His father (Frank Keenan) is a decorated soldier and is embarrassed why his son so he pretty much turns his back on him but soon the son is going to have a chance to redeem himself. There's no doubt that this thing isn't in the same league as the Griffith film but at the same time it's still a pretty good little picture. I think the most interesting this is the actual story because it's pretty much saying you're worthless if you're scared to die for your country. I think the film goes a bit too dramatic during the relationship of the son and father. This relationship includes a sequence where the father loads his pistol to shoot the son if he doesn't enlist in the war and even follows him to the enlistment office and again threatens to shoot him. I found the father character to be rather laughable and he'll certainly go down in history as the most pathetic father I've seen in a movie. The jerk is that bad and we get a sequence towards the end where the son might be dying and the father refuses to say he knows the kid. One major plus for the film are the costumes, which all look like they're real. The battle scenes aren't nearly as grand as the one in the Griffith film but they still look pretty good on their own. The performance by Ray is actually pretty good as he does a nice job at showing fear as his character goes through quite a bit here. The pain from his father's rejection is also something else the actor handles quite well. Keenan, on the other hand, is downright awful here. You'll never see me bashing silent acting because it is what it was at the time. I think it's unfair to bash acting from 1910 because it's not like the acting we see today or saw in the 30s or 40s. However, Keenan's acting appears to be coming from the 1620s. Just take a look at how slowly he moves no matter what his character is doing. I'd swear on my life that he moves slower than a zombie. If he goes to raise his hand it takes a good fifteen-seconds. If he goes to turn around that's probably twenty-seconds. If he goes to stand up it's probably thirty-seconds. You get the point. The movie runs 77-minutes but if Keenan would move at a normal speed we'd probably be looking at a movie under an hour. Even with that bad performance there's still enough to make fans of the silent era check this thing out. It's certainly not a classic or a masterpiece but it's an interesting story with a fine lead performance and some great outfits. The film shares a lot in common with Griffith's THE HOUSE WITH CLOSED SHUTTERS.
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