14 December 2016 | ma-cortes
Better than average Civil War Western with impressive final raid and based on facts
A group of Confederate prisoners escape to Canada in a plan to revenge the destruction of Southern communities . As they plan to avenge by first taking over , and then robbing banks , sacking and set fire to the small town of Saint Albans in Vermont . To get the lie of the land , their leader spends a few days in the northern town close to the Canadian border . As Maj. Neal Benton (Van Heflin) finds he is getting drawn into its life and especially into that of an enticing widow Katy Bishop (Anne Bancroft) and her son Larry Bishop (Tommy Rettig) . Meanwhile , his men (Lee Marvin , Peter Graves , James Best , John Dierkes) infiltrate the township , confronting emotions and dangers .
The picture gets Western action , shootouts , a love story , and intrigue is slowly but surely built up , being quite entertaining . It's a medium budget film with good actors , technicians, production values and pleasing results . This was the picture that served as a springboard John Arden in writing his play ¨Sergeant Murgrave's dance¨ . The picture contains an agreeable and feeling relationship between Van Heflin and Anne Bancroft , as growing respect for the widow with whom he lodges . Cast is frankly magnificent . Nice acting by Van Heflin as Confederate officer leads a group of soldiers with whom has escaped from an Union Prison Camp and Anne Bancroft as attractive widow . Spectacular ending including a savage massacre is powerfully staged . Excellent scenarios and adequate ambient with Lucien Ballard's (Peckinpah's ordinary cameraman) typically moody cinematography . And thrilling as well as atmospheric score by Roy Webb.
The motion picture was compelling and professionally directed by Hugo Fregonese who makes a superb use throughout of an alright pacing . Hugo was an Argentina director who emigrated to Hollywood, then became technical adviser on latino themes at Columbia Studios in Hollywood, and subsequently under contract at Universal from 1950 to 1952 filming ¨Man in the attic¨ with Jack Palance , ¨Blowing wild¨with Gary Cooper , ¨Decameron Nights¨with Joan Fontaine , ¨Harry Black and the tiger¨with Steart Granger . Spent the rest of the decade in Europe directing Euro-westerns as ¨Savage Pampas¨ and potboilers as "The Death Ray of Dr. Mabuse" , Terror as "Dracula vs. Frankenstein" before finishing his career back in the country of his birth . Rating : 7 , Above average , worthwhile seeing .
This interesting flick , factually based Civil war western , being the facts the followings : The St. Albans Raid was the northernmost land action of the American Civil War. It was a controversial raid from Canada by Confederate soldiers meant to rob banks to raise money and to trick the Union Army to divert troops to defend their northern border against further raids . It took place in St. Albans, Vermont, on October 19, 1864 . The confederate men staged simultaneous robberies of the city's three banks. They identified themselves as Confederate soldiers and took a total of $208,000. During the robberies, eight or nine Confederates held the villagers at gun point on the village green, taking their horses to prevent pursuit. Several armed villagers tried to resist, and one was killed and another wounded . Young ordered his men to burn the city, but a lot of bottles of Greek fire they used failed to ignite, and only one shed was destroyed by fire. The raiders escaped to Canada, despite a delayed pursuit. In response to U.S. demands, the Canadian authorities arrested the raiders, recovering $88,000. However, a Canadian court ruled that because they were soldiers under military orders, officially neutral Canada could not extradite them. Canada freed the raiders, but returned to St. Albans the money they had found . The raid served to turn many Canadians against the Confederacy, since they felt that Canada was being drawn into the conflict without its consent. The Confederate agents in Canada realized this and no further raids were made.