A young officer in the army of Empress Catherine of Russia is on his way to his new duty station at a remote outpost. During a blinding snowstorm he comes upon a stranger who was caught in ... See full summary »
A young officer in the army of Empress Catherine of Russia is on his way to his new duty station at a remote outpost. During a blinding snowstorm he comes upon a stranger who was caught in the storm and is near death from freezing. He rescues the man and eventually brings him back to health. When the man is well enough to travel, the two part company and the man vows to repay the officer for saving his life. Soon after he arrives at his new post, a revolt by the local Cossacks breaks out and the fort is besieged by the rebels. The young officer is astonished to find out that the leader of the rebellious Cossacks is none other than the stranger whose life he had saved during the storm. Written by
This film has combined aspects of a cheap Italian cast of
thousands "epic" AND, largely through the excellent acting of Van Heflin, Agnes Moorehead, and a couple other real actors and intelligent segments of the script, one of the better historical films. Van Heflin is totally believable as the pretender to the throne and is quite charismatic. If only, say, El Cid's Anthony Mann had directed, with Yakima Canutt as battle scene director, this movie could have been fantastic. As it is, the first battle scene, the storming of a fort, is largely wasted by thousands of ill-directed extras slogging forward. The last battle scene, however, has a certain sweep and indication of tactics that make it quite effective. Personally I think it Van Heflin's finest performance. A very much underrated actor.
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