In 1898 the US government decided to intervene on the side of the Cuban rebels in their struggle against Spanish rule. Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt decides to experience the war first hand by promoting and joining a volunteer cavalry regiment. The regiment, later known as the Rough Riders, brings together volunteers from all corners of the nation and all walks of life. When Roosevelt and his men finally land on Cuba, they face ambush, intense enemy fire, and a desperate, outnumbered charge up a defended hill. Written by
William Katt's war correspondent character Edward Marshall is partially based on real life journalist Richard Harding Davis. See more »
Roosevelt refers to a captured German military advisor as a "Hun." The derogatory epithet "Hun" for German soldiers was first used (by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II himself,) during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion of 1901 and did not become widely used until World War One, both well after the Spanish-American War. See more »
I miss you, boys. Been more that twenty years. My God, we were young. Well, it was a young country then, full of promise and hope. Anything was possible then if you were an American.
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intense, realistic, accurate, and thoroughly enjoyable
This film chronicles the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry ("Rough Riders") from their inception in the mind of Teddy Roosevelt through the capture of the San Juan Heights, the moment at which Roosevelt said "We will always live in its shadow." Although it takes some liberties with the facts, they're simply to strengthen the story as constrained by the medium: better than two months and a thousand men are pushed into three+ hours and some fifteen characters, enough to catch the flavor of the time. And what a time: when rich young men from Park Avenue sincerely believed it was their duty to take part in their country's wars, and a politician who started one went to fight in it, when artists calmly painted oils of battle, and correspondents walked toward the sound of the guns... Fiercely accurate in the feel of the battle, especially the waiting under fire, and in the making of men into killers, "Rough Riders" is beautifully filmed and scored. But mostly, it's well acted. Berengar *is* Theodore Roosevelt, and Sam Elliott gives another good performance, as does William Katt as Edward Marshall (with a lot of Richard Harding Davis's actions). Gary Busey's Fighting Joe Wheeler is a scene-stealer, much like "the old gamecock" undoubtedly was, and the little roles are well handled as well, especially Nick Chinlund's Frederic Remington. But the real focus of the movie is on Brad Johnson's Henry Nash, the Arizona outlaw, and Chris Noth's Craig Wadsworth, the Park Avenue polo player... Noth in particular gives a understatedly lovely, nuanced performance as the rich young man coming face to face with Life -- the very thing his family had tried so hard to keep him from ever having to experience. His transformation mirrors the transformation this particular war created in our country; as Roosevelt says in the film, "It will never be the same again." I heartily recommend this movie.
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