11 user 4 critic

Pharaoh's Army (1995)

PG-13 | | Western | April 1995 (USA)
During the American Civil War, a Union Army captain leads his rag-tag cavalry troop up a misty creek to a remote farm to appropriate enemy (Confederate) livestock. The farm is worked by ... See full summary »


Robby Henson


Robby Henson

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Cooper ... Captain John Hull Abston
Patricia Clarkson ... Sarah Anders
Kris Kristofferson ... Preacher
Robert Joy ... Chicago
Richard Tyson ... Rodie
Frank Clem ... Neely
Huckleberry Fox ... Newt
Will Lucas Will Lucas ... Boy
Mac Miles Mac Miles ... Israel
Robert P. Sampson Jr. Robert P. Sampson Jr. ... Narrator (as Robert E. Sampson)
Maude Mitchell Maude Mitchell ... Preacher's Wife
Rebecca Ryland Rebecca Ryland ... Mourner
Scott Coffman Scott Coffman ... Mourner
Gale Wilson Gale Wilson ... Mourner
Stacie Coffman Stacie Coffman ... Mourner


During the American Civil War, a Union Army captain leads his rag-tag cavalry troop up a misty creek to a remote farm to appropriate enemy (Confederate) livestock. The farm is worked by Sarah Anders, whose husband is away fighting for the Confederate Army. Far from the great armies and battlefields, a very private civil war erupts. The Captain and Sarah are pulled apart by the war's undertow into choices they can not fully control or understand. Each character in this drama must decide whether loyalty will be paid in blood. This story has a relevance to current partisan conflicts. Armies are not filled with murdering psychopaths. Good people can be driven to do bad things. The story chronicles the pathology of war, how escalating events can trigger unasked-for tragedy. Based on a true story about a southern child who shot and killed a union soldier during the Civil War. Written by <jstanley@stern.nyu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A private civil war



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief violence and sexual references






Release Date:

April 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die graue Armee See more »

Filming Locations:

Casey County, Kentucky, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Original story took place at Meshack's Creek, Kentucky, in 1862; the town no longer exists. Tompkinsville is the nearest town officially recognized by the US Postal Service, roughly 6 miles to the west of the creek. The general area (Cumberland Gap), during the Civil War, experienced some of the most brutal clashes of the war; not only battles, but brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor. See more »


[first lines]
Preacher: By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread until thou return unto the ground, for out of it we was taken. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Heavenly Father, pick this child up on heaven's side. Put the grave behind for the promise on the other side, that she might live and abide with you.
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Love Theme
Written by Charles Ellis
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User Reviews

10 March 2014 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

Let's face it, there aren't that many great Civil War films out there. "Glory," "The Horse Soldiers" and "Ride With the Devil" are the only ones I recall off hand; "The Blue and the Gray" and "Cold Mountain" also have numerous good points. "Gettysburg," on the other hand, is a bloated, melodramatic, artificial bore (made exclusively for Civil War buffs, whatever that is); I've never seen its prequel.

The peculiarly-titled "Pharaoh's Army" is a 1995 indie film about a real-life incident that took place in Kentucky during the Civil War. Because Kentucky was a border state the allegiances of its people were split between North & South. I'm sure it was hard to be neutral.

THE PLOT: A Union captain (Chris Cooper) and four soldiers invade a young widow's farm in the Kentucky wilderness (the widow is played by Patricia Clarkson); since her husband fought and died for the Confederacy they supposedly have the right to her livestock, even though she argues that she and her boy will likely starve come winter. One of the soldiers is accidentally wounded and they are forced to stay for a few days. The captain attempts to be a gentleman and even helps out on the small farm, but he fails to win any kind of favor with the widow, who rightly views them as nothing more than invading enemies. Events turn deadly and the captain, even though a good-hearted gentleman, is forced into an intense position.

Although the story is based on real events and takes place during the Civil War, this is not an epic war film with big battle scenes, strategizing generals, etc. The entire film takes place in and around the widow's small farm and focuses solely on the events that take place there. This limited scope may turn some viewers off.

Even though this is a small indie film, the score, cast, acting and writing are all top notch. The story is fairly slow-paced and there are no cataclysmic events to arouse those with ADD. The first time I saw it, I thought it was good, but not great. I viewed it again about a year later (earlier this summer) and liked it even more. Lately images of this picture have popped into my mind and something occurred to me: The way the film plays out and is presented to the viewer is REAL LIFE. What I mean is that it's almost as if someone went back in time and actually filmed the actual events. This is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I tire of all the silly hollywoodisms common in modern American cinema -- supposedly humorous one-liners, unrealistic action scenes, excessive explosions, melodrama, unconvincing dialogue, etc.

The ending is powerful as the captain, a good man, is thrust into a position of cold-blooded murder in the name of war. It's intense, and so REAL. The insanity of war can easily turn the best of us into heartless killers.

The cover of the DVD prominently features Kris Kristofferson, but his role as a pro-South Kentucky preacher is relatively minor.

FYI: "Pharaoh's Army" was actually filmed in Kentucky, no doubt near where the real events took place.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a small film about a minor peripheral incident during the Civil War. It's not a big league Hollywood picture with the corresponding melodramatic, pretentiousness like, say, "Saving Private Ryan" (although that film has some undeniable positive qualities, like the D-Day invasion, there are way too many forced, artificial moments and dialogue -- remember the moronic dog tag scene?). "Pharaoh's Army" is generally a quiet film and likely won't blow you away or anything. What it has in its favor, however, is unpretentious REALISM. It's refreshing; and it will stay with you.


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