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First movie my father co-produced with R. John Hugh. Used color as a
first since many movies were in b/w in 50s. Although I was too small to
remember this movie being made, I played with rolls of cutting room
floor scraps for years.
This was Laurence Rosenthal's first movie music score. He was a student at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. He went on to score more movies and several TV shows in the 90s. Interestingly, a promotion still picture my father had of him was in the newspaper 40 years after it was originally taken. Guess no one ages in the movie business.
The scenes that take place during a storm were actually shot during a hurricane that visited Florida during the shooting schedule. Snakes used in the scenes came from a local tourist trap called Alligator Farm. Many of the exterior scenes were made in Altamonte Springs area.
The quicksand scene was actually a pit that was dug about chest deep and filled with leaves, etc. The actor got in and faked the sinking part. The hand going down was actually a closeup of him just pulling down his arm (trick photography 50s style). The Florida panther that jumps out of the tree was a fake that was pushed from behind by a guy with a pole. Looks real though.
Yellowneck was R. John Hugh's first stab at writing, directing, producing, et AL, a movie in Florida. The world premiere was held at the former Astor Theater in Orlando. I have the still pictures of the premiere. Lin McCarthy was on hand for the opening night. He later went on to do television.
This modestly budgeted oddity from the mid-fifties is as good an example as I can think of of how to make something out of nothing. Set in the waning days of the Civil War, Yellowneck follows several Confederate army deserters in their flight through the Florida Everglades. The actors are all good and the predicament these characters are in is dramatized with a fair amount of realism. Poisonous snakes, insects and alligators abound, as these unfortunate men have gone from the hell of the Civil War into the frying pan of the swamp. They squabble amongst one another a good deal, but their biggest enemy is nature itself, which seems to be conspiring against them at every turn. One comes to like some of these men very much, and despise others. The pathetic nature of their plight is always apparent, and we cannot help but feel for them as they slog through the mud, their hopes diminishing with each passing day. A fine. psychologically provocative piece of film-making, in tone and sensibility, a sort of cross between Ambrose Bierce and Albert Camus.
This is a strange little film about five confederate deserters trying
to make their way through the Everglades to escape capture. They find
the wilderness to be a less merciful enemy than the union, as they
battle hurricanes, snakes, Senecas, quicksand, and each other.
Essentially, this is a raw, real - but not realistic, struggle for
survival pitting men who have been branded cowards against nature and
Although the film is over-acted, over-dramatized and over-long, it made a lasting impression on me as an adolescent. I first saw Yellowneck when I was between 9 and 12 years old. When I watched it last night, I remembered having seen it then about a quarter of the way through the film. There are aspects of this film which, at a very young age, I found frightening. As an adult who frequently works in environments such as the one depicted in the film, I can only reflect on my own (and the writer's) ignorant fearfulness today.
The script has too many soliloquies and generally over-dramatizes most of the story. The acting is OK, but the script forces almost all of the cast members to go overboard frequently. Lin McCarthy and Bill Mason both turn in solid performances. The directing, cinematography and editing are all good, but the film could have been 10-15 minutes shorter and just as good. As much as I appreciate character development, a few of the soliloquies and conversation scenes might have improved the film had they been left out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have not seen this one since the 1960's but we would re-enact it when
we played civil war. If I remember correctly these Confederates had
been running a prison camp (3/07 I remembered wrong! It was the
Seminole Village scene in the middle of the movie) and now (upon the
near defeat of the south) were escaping to Cuba. (I guess as deserters
according to the other comments.) In order to do so they have to pass
thru the Everglade swamps where (like Heart of Darkness) things become
more dangerous and evil as they go. Indians, alligators, snakes all
finish off (except for one to tell the tale of course) the members of
the party one by one. The snake pit was nice cause I did not like the
guy who died in it.
The scene I most remember is the quicksand scene where the Sergeant sinks and dies leaving the kid alone to finish the trek to Cuba. The rest of the troop dies in different ways. The film finishes with the kid, the one good guy in the film, walking out of the Jungle onto a beach where he looks across the sea in the direction of his destination, Cuba.
This was an amusement park of horror. It is too bad that Arnold and Sly are too old now as I think it would make a good film to remake. Time is passing however and the casting of this thing would be a challenge. The film can be downloaded from eztakes.com but it is available on DVD if you search for it.
It is really very good and the guy playing the officer has a great death scene!)
An interesting plot premise is killed with poor direction and a lot of
overacting with Yellowneck. There's also a distinct lack of characters
who you really root for to get out of the Everglades.
Republic released this film in 1955 about five men who are Confederate Army deserters and not some of the greatest specimens of manhood you'll ever want to encounter. Lin McCarthy, Billl Mason, Harold Gordon, and Berry Kroeger are the deserters and from some of the names you know that by the type of roles they've played. Later on they're joined by Stephen Courtleigh, a colonel who deserted the Star And Bars. He's got pretensions, but deep down he's no better than the other four.
For the one and there is only one who makes it there is then the minor problem of crossing 90 miles of ocean to Cuba. Still it is an achievement to have survived the Everglades and all that inhabit it.
If you care to watch you can find out which one survives.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Five Confederate soldiers in Florida have deserted from their units and head out for the coast with the hope of finding a ship which will carry them to Cuba. But in order to get there they have to contend with the dangers presented by the swamps along with hostile Seminoles who are fully aware of their presence. Now, I generally like movies of this type and this particular one had some good points and some bad ones. First, I liked the fact that it was filmed in color because, even though it cost quite a bit more back in the 50's, it enabled the director (R. John Hugh) to take full advantage of the beautiful scenery. On the other hand, while the movie flowed adequately from one scenario to another, the ending left much to be desired as it seemed to end too abruptly. Likewise, I never really felt anything for any of the characters. Of course, the fact that they were deserters and not necessarily worthy of any respect or concern may have had something to do with it. Still, it would have helped the film if there had been a bit more character development. It also would have helped if they had shown more misery created by the lack of food and water than they did. It would have added to the realism. All things considered then I rate it as slightly below average.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Five Confederate deserters plunge into the perilous Everglades swamp in
a desperate bid for freedom in freshman writer & director R. John
Hugh's "Yellowneck," a gritty but scenic yarn about survival in the
wilderness during the American Civil War in 1863. Essentially, nobody
wins our sympathy here because they are all deserters on the run.
Moreover, the characters are at best sketchy, and the largely unknown
cast imparts little in the way of charisma. In other words, you won't
be rooting for these poor slobs. Had Hugh written his film about men
trying to escape from a prison camp, "Yellowneck" might have been more
interesting. As it remains, this costume opus is a dreary, depressing
movie that you have to struggle to survive yourself. The only reason
that I suffered through this 83-minute epic was that it came as the
second feature on the bargain basement Alpha Video DVD that toplined
the John Agar/Mike Connors western "Flesh and the Spur." Mind you,
"Flesh and the Spur" was no triumph of cinematic artistry, but it was
far more rewarding than "Yellowneck." This low-budget Republic
potboiler boasts the virtues of not only being lensed on-location in
the Everglades but also shot in color. Hugh doesn't rely on either
studio sets or back projection. Okay, the Seminole Indian camp looks
like it was erected for the purposes of the film.
"Yellowneck" opens with a painting of dead soldiers either draped on a cannon or lying at its wheels. Heavy-handed narration ensues: "This is the story of five men who were the product of a long, bloody war. Five men who turned their backs on the Confederate cause to run. History has a name for the man who runs in the face of battle: deserter. But to the rank and file of the men in the Confederate lines, he was called Yellowneck. The narrative unfolds with the Colonel (Stephen Courtleigh of "North to Alaska") entering the make-shift camp of four Confederate deserters. Sergeant Todd (Lin McCarthy of "The D.I.") is in nominal charge of Plunkett (Berry Kroeger of "Blood Alley"), the Cockney (Harold Gordon of "East of Eden") and the Kid from Georgia (Bill Mason) who knows how to hunt raccoons for meat. The Colonel presents his credentials for safe passage to a British ship and transport to Cuba. He is searching for a Native American guide to escort him through the 'green hell' of the Everglades. Not only are his hopes dashed almost immediately as his guide shows up just long enough to die at their feet, but Sergeant Todd recognizes the bearded, sword-toting officer as a deserter just like they are. When Todd tries to rally his men around the Colonel, the officer admits that he wants nothing to do with being a commander. He has a moment before he dies near the end when he relives the nightmare that was the Battle of Murfreesboro, fought between December 31, 1862, and January 2, 1863, in Tennessee, as part of the Stones River Campaign. The Colonel remembers only the failed charge that he led and the men who died in vain. The significance of the battle was that it proved inconclusive and the Union derived more from it than the Confederacy.
Basically, "Yellowneck" is a movie about losers. Again, if Hugh had made the men more heroic or at least redeemed them, then this might have been more appetizing to watch. The Colonel is the first to die. Initially, he takes an arrow in the back when they storm a Seminole Indian camp. The second to die is the mercenary Englishman named Cockney who spends his time lusting after Plunkett's gold and smutty French postcards. Cockney dies when he is paralyzed by fear at the sight of a nest of rattlesnakes. To his credit, Hugh foreshadows Cockney's demise early when Plunkett taunts him with a harmless snake. The three remaining Confederates successfully cross an alligator infested river on a log, but Plunkett goes mad when he realizes that he has lost his gold. He tries to go back for it and ends up being gator bait. The most sympathetic of the quintet is Sergeant Todd who dies an ignominious death in a quicksand pit. Predictably, the one who survives is the simple-minded Kid who reaches the shore. Indeed, his future doesn't look much better. Although Hugh wrote the dialogue and Nat Linden penned the screenplay, neither uses the story as a soapbox for either anti-war sentiments or anti-Confederate commentary. Finally, aside from the French post cards which are never shown, "Yellowneck" features no women.
Five Confederate soldiers go AWOL, and risk the swamps of the
Everglades to head to Cuba, as opposed to what they've been through
If you get the feeling not all of them will survive, you'd be correct.
A movie like this tries to play for both adventurous entertainment and credibility.
"Yellowneck" straddles the line in a way that makes you feel like you haven't been totally cheated out of an hour of your life. It isn't classic, in my opinion, but it isn't nearly as contrived as many other such movies.
When one weighs a movie like this, the deciding weight is in the credibility of the plot, story, and characters.
We have an inkling who will survive, and the way the film goes about this process is perhaps a little contrived, but not very contrived.
If you watch this, I feel safe to say you will also rate it close to middle ground, like I did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the days before Disneyland & old retirement homes. Florida was best known for the savage and brutal swamp land call the Everglades. Directed by R. John Hugh, the movie showcase how violent, the land can be. The movie tells the story of five Confederate deserters AKA Yellownecks trying to get a sympathetic Seminole to guide them south to the ocean, where a British blockade runner awaits to ferry the fugitives to Cuba. As the five argue at their first meeting, a mortally wounded Indian guide stumbles upon them. Now they have no choice, but to blindly travel through miles of swamp known as the Everglades, using only the sun as reference. This small group encounters many dangerous hazards: a tropical storm, alligators, rattlesnakes, a bobcat, malarial mosquitoes, hostile natives, and quicksand. Can they survive their ordeal or will Mother Nature get the upper hand? Without spoiling the movie, too much, despite its main characters being soldiers, Yellowneck feels least than a war movie and more like a survivor movie. The movie really makes Florida look like, the worst place to be, at the time. I think the movie works in that survival concept. It's hard to root for cowards, but similar civil war films like 1951's The Red Badge of Courage & 2003's Cold Mountain made it work, but giving their audience something in their characters to hook on, mostly redemption or the will to love. It's too bad, that the film felt to make their characters as unlikeable as possible, without giving much to root for. I guess the movie was trying to portray sinners going to the depths of hell. The movie shows their vice, and their punishment for that crime. First off, you got the Colonel (Stephen Courtleigh), whom suffer from alcoholism. His crime was giving drunk orders on the field of battle, which cause many of his men to die. His punishment, was a drought that make him, hallucinating to the point, that he might get himself killed in battle with a Seminole tribe. It's really brilliant if you think about it. The second man, nickname Cockney (Harold Gordon) for his odd English cockney accent that felt like jarring, happens to be very homicidal, and willing to strike anybody that get in his way. His castigation mirrors his actions. While, he's quick on trying to get his comrades killed, he finds himself, paralyzed in fear, in front of snakes. Can he survive or will he die in a lame, but funny death scene? Berry Kroeger stars as the strained and paranoid gold theft, Plunkett. He's by far, the worst of them all in hideous way, but the most humorous character in the film. Without spoiling too much, about what happen to him, let's just say, the price of his crimes isn't worth it. While, Plunkett is the worst character and well developed, the movie two best characters weren't. They don't even have names nor characteristics. One is known as the Sergeant (Lin McCarthy) and the other is just 'the Kid' (Bill Mason). Since, there was no strong reasons to root for any of these guys. The ending of the film felt very anti-climax. I give the movie, some credit. It really did capture, the harsh life in the Everglades. The scenes that take place during a storm were actually shot during a hurricane that visited Florida during the shooting schedule. It's by far, the best part of the film. The Snakes and Alligators were real, but it was awkwardly shot, with the actors. The film really did lost its menace look, when the alligators look like they didn't want, no part in this film. Another problem of the film with the film copy. Since the movie is public domain, most of the DVDs are in poor production. Lots of the footage hasn't aged well. Lots of film dust and scratches in the visuals. The music score by Laurence Rosenthal was alright, but the audio is a bit out of sync. It make it difficult or even painful to get through. While, Technicolor process were expensive and difficultly in the 1950s. There were versions of this film that were in color. The original film was made in Trucolor and released by Republic Pictures, but the copies of that version are rare. The version, I got on my DVD, wasn't in color. It was in black and white. It really hurt the film. The problem lies in that fact that the Everglades had plenty of color contrast, but without dark and light contrasts, the black and white footage looks flat and white-wash. Overall: Yellowneck was an interesting premise that could had better. Left Much to Be Desired. Hope, one day, it gets the remade, it deserves.
Never waste 90 minutes of your time on this terrible take on Civil War. Some old films were never good, and this is one of them. The story of 5 Cofederate deserters (Yellownecks, as they were called) could have been OK, but here it was not. Slow, poorly shot film is only good for the Florida Everglade views, animals, snakes, gators, jungles, bogs and rivers. The 5 actors are intermittently forgettable ad pathetic. They encounter almost every ordeal on the way and it is obvious which next they will come soon into. Nay, sirs, this was not good in the 50's, it is boring and dull now. What is especially bad, is that we feel no pity for them. The film is cold and bland, and the performance is rather mediocre. Just going slowly and very predictably. You know the end at the very beginning and you know it will be not cool to watch it with any interest. Utterly forgettable and banal
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