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The story takes place in 1940. On the eve of America's entry in World War II, a colonel retired to his small Southern town, and discovers that there is a plan afoot to tear down Confederate Monument Square. He begins a campaign to rally the townspeople to save the square. Written by
It takes one person to make a noise, and others will follow!
That is the basic theme of this Capra-esquire comedy starring Charles Coburn as the titled character, a colonel forced to retire who returns to his small Georgia home town he hasn't been in for years. He takes up a voluntary reporting job supposedly on the war. But he takes up a stand on local corruption, and becomes a public hero. Coburn is a force of nature as he takes on the politicians and money men, who as usual, are presented as old fuddy-duddies who don't appreciate his intrusion. But Coburn proves he is much more than a feisty senior citizen as he goes out of his way to show that a supposed civil war hero was nothing of the sort and not worth being honored by having a park renamed in his honor. The powers-that-be are not only angered by Coburn, but by the showing of support towards him by the majority of the public.
In the background of this story, fellow reporters William Eythe and Joan Bennett stand with Coburn, but their romance is secondary to Coburn's feisty performance. He does a brief mean samba with Bennett to a Carmen Miranda tune, makes the town think about what is going on behind the scenes of their supposedly honest government, and turns the paper around. A nice moment comes when pages of the newspaper are displayed with quiet sound effects until an explosion is heard over the sight of Coburn's column.
After winning the Oscar for "The More the Merrier", Coburn went from being a beloved character actor to one whose appearance in films were equal, if not greater, than the younger stars in the film. In this cast, he is surrounded by a virtual who's who of Hollywood's greatest character actors (among them Elizabeth Patterson as his sister and Thurston Hall as the mayor) who bring on the perfect 40's small town atmosphere, and they are excellent.
A short and sometimes seemingly abridged social comedy with a Frank Capra like feel to it, "Col. Effingham's Raid" is enjoyable on many levels, but feels like it's missing a few necessary details.
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