ANDREW MCLAGLAN, SHENANDOAH
(1965) 1HR 45
THE DIRECTOR: ANDREW MCLAGLAN
Andrew McLaglan is regarded as heir to John Ford in making Westerns.
Worked as assistant to Ford in late 1940s and 1950s when JF made his acclaimed
cavalry trilogy ("Fort Apache", "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,"
and "Rio Grande"). During late 1950s and 1960s made a name for
himself with TV Westerns: "Gunsmoke," "Have Gun Will Travel",
"Rawhide", "The Virginian".
- James Stuart - Charlie Anderson, the father and
- Doug McLure - son-in-law Sam
- Sons and Daughters: Glenn Corbett - son Jacob;
Patrick Wayne - son James; Katharine Ross - Ann, wife of James; Rosemary
Forsyth - daughter Jannie; Philip Alford - the youngest son Boy (16 years);
Charles Robinson - son Nathan; James McMullan - son John; Tim McIntire
- son Henry
- Paul Fix - Dr Witherspoon
- Dever Pyle - Pastor Bjoerling
Set in 1864 during American Civil War. A family of pacifists who live
in the much ravaged Shenandoah valley attempt vainly to stay out of the
war (don't like slavery and don't like interfering Northerners).
James Stuart plays a prosperous Virginian farmer Charlie Anderson who
tries to keep his large family (6 sons, a daughter and various sons- and
daughters-in-law) out of the Civil War but is unable to because of the location
of their family farm in the stategically important Shenadoah Valley. Most
of the fighting took place in the corridor between two capitals - Washington
and Richmond. To the West of the corridor, the Shenandoah Valley became
important because it was a route for Union forces to be sent to reinforce
units in the south and west; a route for Confederate forces to encircle
and attack Washington from the West; the fertile valley farms were an important
source of supplies for the South especially later in the war when the South
was suffering from the war of economic attrition. In 1862 Stonewall Jackson's
activities in the Valley tied down 2 Federal forces, inflicted 7,000 casulaties,
seized much needed supplies for the South, inspired the South with his successes
and frightened the North with the possibility of an attack on Washington.
In September 1864 Union forces under Sheridan pursued Confederate forces
with the express intention (under orders from Gen. Grant) to strip the valley
so thoroughly that "crows flying over it for the balance of the season
will have to carry their provender." The result was the destruction
of railroad lines, crops and barns belonging to both unionists and secessionists
were burned and herds driven off or slaughtered, and the Valley was finally
kept out of the hands of the South.
Charlie refuses to support South in Civil War because he is opposed to slavery
and refuses to support North because he is opposed to war, thus he tries
to remain neutral. When conflict takes place in Shenandoah valley his pacifist
views are challenged: youngest son Boy is taken prisoner by Union soldiers;
son-in-law Sam has Confederate sympathies and is called up; son James and
daughter-in-law Ann are killed (murdered?) by Confederate looters; son Jacob
is killed by Confederate guardsman. Events thus force Charlie to take a
Things to Note
Film raises a number of questions and items of interest to classical
- the prayer Charlie says at the dinner table -
"we worked for it, so it's ours"
- How does one keep one's integrity in an impossible
situation (heroism)? More specifically, how does
a pacifist remain true to this/her principles in
total war? In modern war is it possible not to take
(or be forced to take) sides?
- the breakdown of the traditional laws of war in
total war. Should armies continue to respect the
lives and property of non-combatants or is everybody
now an enemy?
- the consequences of economic warfare - crops,
barns, livestock must be seized for one's own use
or destroyed to prevent the enemy use of them. What
happens to those caught in the middle? If one's
intention in fighting is to protect life and property
(or the principle of life and property) is economic
warfare an appropriate means to this end?
- what claim does the state have (whether north
or south) on Charlie's family? War requisition just
a fancy name for "horse thieves".
- Charlie's attitude towards war, when does it concern
him? personal revenge?
- why does he hijack the train of POWs - "it's
not the kind of train I favour"
- the suggestion that atrocities are an inevitable
part of modern war - rape, killing of innocent bystanders
- who benefits from war? politicians? glory-seeking
- the traditional depiction of "good"
anti-slavery North vs "bad" pro-slavery
South is not so clear cut. Perhaps both sides had
their good and bad aspects. "Bad" North:
pro-tariff protection, war opportunity to drastically
expand state power (taxation, conscription, inflation,
censorship), creation of unitary state by coercion,
opposed right of exit or secession. Good" South:
pro-free trade, right of exit.
- the dilemma the Civil War caused for classical
liberals on both sides of the Atlantic. Radical
Abolitionists in America (Garrison) wanted North
to secede from South because of tainted pro-slavery
constitution. "Cooperheads" opposed conscription
and censorship. British liberals divided over free
trade issue - importance of Southern cotton to British
- the film was made in 1965 - the year American
ground troops were sent in numbers to Vietnam. Is
this film a prescient warning to the American people
about the problems of taking sides in this divisive