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SO RED THE ROSE is King Vidor's quietly affecting Civil War romance, starring Margaret Sullavan as a Southern aristocrat, the mistress of a Southern plantation, whose sheltered life is torn apart by the War between the States. During the war's darkest days she is sustained by her love for a distant cousin, a Confederate officer, played by Randolph Scott.Written by
This movie seems to end just when it should begin. This story of the old South cannot fail to be compared with "Gone With the Wind", as it tells the story of a Southern family just before, during and just after the Civil War. The house even looks like Tara. But "So Red the Rose" finishes way too early and with an awful abruptness. Vidor has just begun to explore the ambiguities of the Civil War when the music swells and it's all over. With his characteristic humanism he looks at the conflict amongst the newly freed slaves - what do they do with this freedom? How will they eat? And must they now hate their former masters even those they once loved? And there are conflicts amongst the white folks too - especially when an innocent young Yankee asks the family for help. Can they allow this boy to be hanged? Is he not just like the son they lost? But before Vidor can really explore these issues the film is over.
Strong performances from Margaret Sullavan, Walter Connolly, Elizabeth Patterson and especially Janet Beecher give the film a solid base - and Vidor's technical skill and Victor Milner's cinematography give the film beauty. But it is Vidor's humanism that gives it heart. He was a remarkable artist - much over-looked by film historians. "So Red the Rose" is not a great film, but it is a remarkable one.
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