23 June 2003 | realbobwarn
Hollywood history a real 'hoot' of a film
This film covers George Armstrong's life ('Auty' to his family and friends) from his induction to West Point to ..... well ...... when he gets the chop.
It is a well researched film where the film makers chose to ignore almost all of the facts .... while referring to them at a 'safe distance' (but nonetheless it manages to include a lot that is 'reasonably' factual), and is played with much humour by the late great Australian actor, Errol Flynn.... until the last scenes, of course.
Its many faults accepted, the scope of the film far exceeds any other depiction of Custer yet made, including some of his Civil War exploits and in part explains why his defeat had the impact on US society at the time, as it did, and has been and still is, the subject of fascination by so many for so long. (But the film sells him short here, glossing over his many remarkable civil war exploits, including the fact that it was Custer's Michigan Cavalry Division which defeated the legendary Confederate General J. E. B. ('Jeb') Stewart, in an engagement in which Stewart was killed. It also does not acknowledge that Custer was a '2**', or Major Gen (at age 23!), depicting him as Brig Gen - or '1*'. And he was not accidentally promoted to General as portrayed - but the hillarious scene in the mess tent when news of his promotion arrives, is by all accounts, true - as apparently is the equally funny first encounter in a saloon with his father-in-law to be.)
As to the film ...... its a 'hoot' .... and correctly captures Custer's 'dashing' personality. While the final battle scene is incorrect (better portrayed in TV's 'Son of the Morning Star') the action is excellent. The poignant scenes with Olivia de Havilland at the end as he departs for his final, fateful journey illustrate the magnificent chemistry between these two actors in the last film in which they played together. (The scene with the pocket watch is correct also .... I have seen the watch at the battlefield museum..) The Garry Owen is a star of the film and is still the marching song of the present day 7th.