Undersecretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt resigns to form a volunteer militia unit called "The Rough Riders" to fight in the Spanish-American War.




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Series cast summary:
Tom Berenger ...  Theodore Roosevelt 2 episodes, 1997
Sam Elliott ...  Capt. Bucky O'Neil 2 episodes, 1997
Gary Busey ...  Gen. Joseph Wheeler 2 episodes, 1997
Brad Johnson ...  Henry Nash 2 episodes, 1997
Illeana Douglas ...  Edith Roosevelt 2 episodes, 1997
Dale Dye ...  Col. Leonard Wood 2 episodes, 1997
Brian Keith ...  President William McKinley 2 episodes, 1997
George Hamilton ...  William Randolph Hearst 2 episodes, 1997
R. Lee Ermey ...  Secretary of State John Hay 2 episodes, 1997
Nick Chinlund ...  Frederick Remington 2 episodes, 1997
Chris Noth ...  Craig Wadsworth 2 episodes, 1997
Holt McCallany ...  Sgt. Hamilton Fish 2 episodes, 1997
James Parks ...  William Tiffany 2 episodes, 1997
Dakin Matthews ...  Wadsworth, Sr. 2 episodes, 1997
Mark Moses ...  Lt. Woodbury Kane 2 episodes, 1997
William Katt ...  Edward Marshall 2 episodes, 1997
Francesco Quinn ...  Sgt. Rafael Castillo 2 episodes, 1997
Adam Storke ...  Stephen Crane, writer 2 episodes, 1997
Geoffrey Lewis ...  Eli 2 episodes, 1997
Titus Welliver ...  B.F. Goodrich 2 episodes, 1997
Diana Jorge Diana Jorge ...  Mademoiselle Adler 2 episodes, 1997
Eric Allan Kramer ...  Sgt. Henry Bardshar 2 episodes, 1997
Angee Hughes Angee Hughes ...  Sara Bardshar 2 episodes, 1997
Hunter Bentley Hunter Bentley ...  Boyo (GT station) 2 episodes, 1997
Peter Sherayko ...  Brodie 2 episodes, 1997
Troy Curvey Jr. Troy Curvey Jr. ...  Sgt. Buck 2 episodes, 1997
Randy Stripling Randy Stripling ...  Buffalo Soldier 2 episodes, 1997
Willie Dirden Willie Dirden ...  Butler 2 episodes, 1997
Jared Chandler Jared Chandler ...  Capt. Allyn Capron 2 episodes, 1997
Rusty Cox Rusty Cox ...  Captain (Shafter's staff) 2 episodes, 1997
Gary Ragland ...  Captain (trench) 2 episodes, 1997
Art Tamez Art Tamez ...  Castillo Sr. 2 episodes, 1997
Patrick Gorman ...  Colonel, 71st NY 2 episodes, 1997
Rick Dano ...  Colonel (Shafter's staff) 2 episodes, 1997
Carlos Compean Carlos Compean ...  Cuban rebel 2 episodes, 1997
Michael Greyeyes ...  Delchaney (Apache) 2 episodes, 1997
Julie Wilson ...  Mrs. Fish 2 episodes, 1997
Pablo Espinosa ...  Frederick Funston 2 episodes, 1997
Greg Krutilek Greg Krutilek ...  Admiral (at the White House) 2 episodes, 1997
Brady Coleman ...  General (Shafter's staff) 2 episodes, 1997
Brian Schmeck Brian Schmeck ...  Capt. Grimes 2 episodes, 1997
Robert Strane Robert Strane ...  Sen. Hanna 2 episodes, 1997
Jack Watkins ...  Harry Hefues 2 episodes, 1997
Robert 'Bob' Primeaux ...  Indian Bob 2 episodes, 1997
David Midthunder ...  Indian Tom Isbell 2 episodes, 1997
Mark Dalton Mark Dalton ...  Kid at rail siding 2 episodes, 1997
Lonnie Rodriguez Lonnie Rodriguez ...  Capt. Max Luna 2 episodes, 1997
Paul Menzel Paul Menzel ...  Major 2 episodes, 1997
Will Wallace ...  Man #1 (delivers news to Hearst) 2 episodes, 1997
Rutherford Cravens ...  Man #2 2 episodes, 1997
Ted J. Crum Ted J. Crum ...  Old codger 2 episodes, 1997
Brian Brown ...  Man at San Antonio station 2 episodes, 1997
Todd Royal Todd Royal ...  Man 2 episodes, 1997
Buck Taylor ...  George Neville 2 episodes, 1997
Billy Driver Billy Driver ...  New Mexico man 2 episodes, 1997
Charles Sanders Charles Sanders ...  Newsman 2 episodes, 1997
Michael A. Stephens Michael A. Stephens ...  Opposing man 2 episodes, 1997
Adam Reid ...  Orderly 2 episodes, 1997
Wally Welch ...  Other New Mexico man 2 episodes, 1997
Jim Morse Jim Morse ...  Lt. James Parker 2 episodes, 1997
Marshall R. Teague ...  Black Jack Pershing 2 episodes, 1997
Stephen Bridgewater ...  Sgt. Polk 2 episodes, 1997
Curtis Akin ...  Quartermaster 2 episodes, 1997
John Barnett John Barnett ...  Rough Rider (in jungle) 2 episodes, 1997
Tom Williams Tom Williams ...  Sergeant (Exhibition Hall) 2 episodes, 1997
Patrick Falci Patrick Falci ...  Rough Rider (at campfire) 2 episodes, 1997
Rodger Boyce ...  Gen. Shafter 2 episodes, 1997
Louis Gusemano Louis Gusemano ...  Spaniard 2 episodes, 1997
Damon Collazo Damon Collazo ...  Steward 2 episodes, 1997
Larry Randolph Larry Randolph ...  Col. Swayles 2 episodes, 1997
Darin Heames ...  Lt. William Wheeler 2 episodes, 1997
Tiani Warden Tiani Warden ...  Woman in stagecoach 2 episodes, 1997
Danny Kamin ...  Gen. Young 2 episodes, 1997
Timberlake Lewis Timberlake Lewis ...  British observer 2 episodes, 1997
Bob Hess ...  French observer 2 episodes, 1997
Julio Cesar Cedillo ...  Gen. Toral 2 episodes, 1997
Rupert Reyes ...  Gen. Toral's interpreter 2 episodes, 1997
Richard Reyes Richard Reyes ...  Insurrectionist officer 2 episodes, 1997
Jake Cavelle Jake Cavelle ...  Other insurgent 2 episodes, 1997
Whit Edwards Whit Edwards ...  Sergeant, 71st NY 2 episodes, 1997
Jamy Myatt Jamy Myatt ...  Fish's girl 2 episodes, 1997
Kristi Fleming Kristi Fleming ...  Wadsworth's girl 2 episodes, 1997
Ellen Locy ...  Kane's girl 2 episodes, 1997
Richard Nance Richard Nance ...  Cowhand 2 episodes, 1997
Peter Harrell Jr. Peter Harrell Jr. ...  Buffalo sergeant 2 episodes, 1997
Raliegh Wilson ...  Saddlery sergeant 2 episodes, 1997
Oriana Huron Oriana Huron ...  Castillo's girl 2 episodes, 1997
Deborah Nunez Deborah Nunez ...  Bordello lady 2 episodes, 1997
Lincoln Lageson Lincoln Lageson ...  Hearst lackey 2 episodes, 1997
Chase Casson Chase Casson ...  Stagecoach passenger 2 episodes, 1997
Brian Brooks Brian Brooks ...  Military Band Member, Civil Band Member 2 episodes, 1997
Javier Medellin ...  Rough Rider 2 episodes, 1997
Christopher Watson Christopher Watson ...  Flag Carrier / ... 2 episodes, 1997


In 1898, the U.S. 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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:






Release Date:

1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Teddy Roosevelt & the Rough Riders See more »

Filming Locations:

San Antonio, Texas, USA See more »


Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(DVD) (2 parts) | (2 parts)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The role of Teddy Roosevelt was offered to Stephen Lang. Lang gracefully declined due to the low salary. See more »


General Wheeler did not have a son named William. Two of his sons served in the Spanish-American War: Joseph Jr., who served the fictional William's role as Wheeler's aide-de-camp, and Thomas, who drowned in an accident while serving on the USS Columbia. See more »


[first lines]
Henry Nash: 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.
See more »


Version of The Rough Riders (1927) See more »


Boots and Saddles
Traditional calvary bugle call
Played several times throughout the film
See more »

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User Reviews

Tom Berenger & Illeana Douglas + loads of fun
18 November 2003 | by bellkennethSee all my reviews

Tom Berenger is a superb actor, and I think his talent is often overlooked. He was funny, affecting, and ennobling in "Major League," a comedy about a misbegotten baseball team. He was chilling, on a knife's-edge (a one-man Hitchcock plot - no way to tell where he was, or what he might do, or what he knew... but no mistaking the motivation and emotion, either... indescribably human, he was) in "Betrayed." His performance there was such that one hated and feared him from the very start, but ended up praying that he would not be slain. I heard little about his effectiveness in either case. And yet, there was, of course, his screen-shattering performance as Sgt. Barnes in the brilliant, alligorical, and hard-hitting Oliver Stone production, "Platoon." He won plaudits for that one, and well-deserved ones.

In this one,"Rough Riders," he is given a juicy, meat-filled slice of adolescent Americana, to play - an incorrigible and inimitable American hero, the irrepressible Theodore Roosevelt. Rather than restraining himself, or attempting to portray TR as - well, as an adult - Berenger seems to let his performance carry itself, unconsciously. He is as over-the-top as TR himself. This is, at all times, under a thin, barely-controlled layer of respectability, very similiar itself to the state in which TR himself seemed to be born. TR's life, much of the time, was a bouncy, swashbuckling melodrama - and Berenger plays all of this to the hilt, and with the necessary controlled-abandon. He might be critisized for over-acting if it wasn't for the plain fact that this is, in fact, the way TR behaved. And anyone who cares to witness Mr. Berenger's other performances (including his most recent roll, as a delightfully dour and cynical sheriff, on USA's "Peacemakers") can see, his sensitivity to the depth of the characters he plays is extraordinary - one can almost pity him, in this case, for choosing to play a man who himself embodied unbelievable melodrama.

Suffice to say, the entire picture is worth watching, just to see bully old Teddy back again, alive and in the flesh, trying to start a war, and then trying to fight and win that war... Berenger brings it all to life, brilliantly. He shouts "bully!" with enthusiasm, he studiously prepares several pairs of spectacles for his expedition to Cuba, we see him trying to improve his piping, asthma-riddled voice, the better to command his soldiers - and, later, we see him fall quite out of his chair at the jest of a comrade, declaiming, "I was overcome with mirth!" Such scenes will overcome the viewer with mirth, as well - but a knowing mirth.

Having said that, this film's best moment is near the beginning, and it involves Illeana Douglas, who plays Teddy's wife, Edith, with a healthy dash of long-suffering tolerance, as if she would leave the set if she could just quit loving the man she'd married. Her defense of the macho (but defenseless) TR in the face of the French is played off terrifically. She comes across as precisely what Edith herself, in fact, was - a woman who had long since resigned herself to the hell-for-leather forays of her headstrong husband... and she defends him with the ruthlessness of a woman who knows that no foreigner will ever understand the boundless Americanism (or worldy childishness) of her husband.

This is not a brilliant film, but it is an entertaining one. The battle scenes are well done, but, aside from what I mentioned above, the real fun in the picture is in the "boot-camp" scenes. A well-cast and icily forbidding Sam Elliott, along with the silent, brooding threat-in-being of David Midthunder, makes these scenes more interesting than the typical military drill-sergeant fare. By the end of the training process, even those watching the movie are longing for the approval of the aloof and mysterious Midthunder - who, in a nicely balanced final scene, explains himself in a way that banishes mystery, conjures comradeship, and evokes sympathy.

One other character commends attention here. Gary Busey plays the ancient Confederate General Joseph Wheeler - a hero of the Civil War (for the South, anyway). Like Berenger, his acting is sure to be termed overdone, excepting the reality that his character was, in fact, a hell-for-leather, horse-riding, Yankee-skewering madman... And there is great pleasure in the watching of Busey bringing this nutty semi-senile General to life. He demands assurances from the President, and we see him repeatedly mistake the Spanish, who we Americans were fighting in this war, for "Yankees." (In the end, the addled, overweight, and over-enthusiastic General settles upon the phrase "them Yankee Spaniards," when referring to the enemy...) It is a fun portrayal of a man whose time has past, but who refuses to acknowledge the fact. Busey's Wheeler is so wound up in the sound of the guns, that he loses all reason, becomes delirious, and yet, beneath it all, hangs inadvertantly to the vestiges of heroism. I think there is little choice but to root for the ill-guided but irresistable General. Having such a melodramatic icon on screen with a viviedly-created TR is almost too much fun to bear.

There is humour and adventure enough for all, in this.

In the end, I recommend this picture for the terrific performances of Tom Berenger and Illeana Douglas, as well as the historical accuracy of much of it. I have left out, in these comments, sympathetic and effective performances by Chris Noth and Holt McCallany, who help make the movie go, and serve to tie the audience into the volunteer soldier idiom. Francesco Quinn brings patriotism, duty, and honour to life - unexpectedly (at least, to Anglo-Americans who know nothing of Latin qualities) in the guise of a love-struck Latin-American. His character, I think, speaks the most towards what modern soldiers might say, that we "all fight for each other." Quinn elevates these platitudes into reality, as the film portrays him carrying out his values, making decisions according to a code he had initially resisted in the interests of staying with his sweetheart. I have also left out Brad Johnson, who's trite "bad-man who learns honour" roll is, nevertheless, well-played. I could write much more... alas, just watch it, and see. A lot of fun. And very, very well done.

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