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Lydia Yeamans Titus,
THe first half of the film portrays the struggle of the under-armed, under-manned colonists against the British Redcoats at Lexington, Bunker Hill and Valley Forge. Other landmarks of the American Revolution shown include the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's midnight ride and Patrick Henry's (played by Frank McGlyyn Jr. and not played by his father Frank McGlynn Sr) inflammatory speeches to the VIrginia House of Burgesses. The second half dwells on the bloody Indian War of Mohawk Valley. THe parts are tied together by the troubled romance between a young patriot, Nathan Holden (Neal Hamilton (I)')and Nancy Montague (Carol Dempster), the daughter of a Tory Judge. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is basically a remake of The Birth of a Nation but this time the story is set during the American Revolutionary War. We have George Washington (Arthur Dewey) trying to make our country free while Capt. Walter Butler (Lionel Barrymore) tries to get the Indians on his side to attack what one hopes to become the new America. In the mean time, two young lovers (Neil Hamilton, Carol Dempster) are split apart due to them fighting on opposite sides of the war. This film was a notorious flop when originally released and everything Griffith made after this was basically done so that he could clean up debts gathered by this film. Time has certainly been kinder to the film than movie crowds in 1924 because this is a pretty strong take on the war that features a nice story, great battle scenes and some fine performances. Barrymore steals the show with his crazed performance but he never goes over the top but even without words you can see the passion on his face as he fights for what he believes is right. Hamilton and Dempster are both fine in their roles, although I'm sure stronger actors would have been better. The majority of the film deals with the actual story of the war and not the battle scenes. Griffith handles all the quiet moments very well but there's no question that the battle scenes are where the energy is at. Hundreds of extras were used and again, like previous Griffith epics, the battle scenes look incredibly realistic as if Griffith were there filming while the real battles were taking place. The story of the families being split apart probably would have worked better had it not been so familiar as to the story in The Birth of a Nation but either way this was Griffith's last epic and while it's not the masterpiece of The Birth of a Nation or Intolerance, it's still impressive film-making.
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