The story of two Army officers, one a ruthless, career-obsessed schemer, the other his exact opposite, and their personal and professional lives from the end of World War I to the beginning of Vietnam.
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Charles Martin Smith,
In the beginning of the 19th Century many Anglosaxons are settling in the Mexican province of Texas. As the years go by, political conflicts between the settlers and the Mexican government ... See full summary »
Maria Conchita Alonso,
Rafe Covington promises a dying friend that he'll watch over the man's wife and ranch after he's gone. When Rafe gets to his friend's ranch, he finds that Barkow, the local power in town, ... See full summary »
Of all the movies I've come across dealing with early Texas history (various versions of The Alamo, Michener's Texas, Texas Rangers, King of Texas, Two for Texas), this is by far the best.
No sugar-coating here. Instead of loading on the usual simplistic blather about heroic Texas revolutionaries fighting for "freedom" (these were slave-owners; they wanted the "freedom" to own human beings), this movie makes the point early on that self-serving adventurers from the US were scheming to take Texas from Mexico long before the revolution came. Jim Bowie is seen inviting Houston to do just that; Houston, drunk with his Indian compatriots, dreams of seizing Texas and making it an Indian Republic (with himself at the head, naturally). For such "dreams of freedom" to take place, a lot of people will have to die, but when ruthless men believe in their own manifest destiny, nothing must get in the way of their empire-building. Thus the J.R. Ewing mentality of Texas was set from the very beginning...and continues to this day, with our war-mongering Texas president.
Are men like Houston (or Julius Caesar, or Napoleon, or George Bush) admirable? Frankly, after living 50 years on this planet, I've had my fill of these dangerous egomaniacs, but for better or worse they are the types who make history for the rest of us, so any work that offers insight into their personalities and careers is interesting to watch. Most movies that portray the Texas revolutionaries reflexively offer brain-dead patriotic pabulum; they're fairy-tales for adults who think like children. The script for this movie offers far more to think about.
Even the most justified wars are always fought for someone's profit, and atrocities always take place on both sides. And yet, at the outset of every war, a large component of the population goes forth with stars in their eyes, thinking that god must be on their side and that everything will be just wonderful. What's truly reprehensible is to look back on those wars in retrospect with the same stars in your eyes, instead of training a hard, unflinching gaze on the cruel and ugly realities of history and the types of men who make it. This movie does that to a greater degree than most, and for that I give it credit.
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