June 2009 Civil War Times

2 04 2009

cwt609I think it’s official: Civil War Times has retaken its place as the preeminent general Civil War history magazine (Blue & Gray is a different animal).  This month’s issue includes three great pieces on Glory, still far and away the best Civil War film ever made: Gary Gallagher’s thoughts on the movie 20 years later; an interview with actor Andre’ (Thomas Searles) Braugher; and an article on Medal of Honor recipient William Carney of the 54th MA.  See here for a clip from the movie.  Looks like the clip has been removed from YouTube.  Sorry.

alAlso in this issue is a fine, scholarly article by Ethan Rafuse on George McClellan’s Whig roots and how they  affected his relationship with Lincoln.  No footnotes, but come on, who really reads the notes in a magazine article?  Stephen Budiansky has an article on the 7th Cavalry during Reconstruction; there’s a bit on the Gettysburg Cyclorama; Ernest Fergurson writes on Lincoln’s sense of humor; and Harold Holzer takes a look at an 1860 full-length photo of the future Emancipator.

Good goin’, CWT!

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9 responses

2 04 2009
Chris Evans

I’ve always enjoyed ‘Glory’. I remember seeing a ’48 Hours’ TV piece in 1990 on how they did the burning of Darien, Georgia for the film. I wish the film could have included more of the real historical characters ,somehow, like the brave Sgt. Carney and Frederick Douglass’ sons who were also in the regiment. But it is still a very emotional and moving film. I really like the line Shaw delivers to the Harper’s Weekly reporter before Fort Wagner: ‘If I should fall…remember what you see here.” Very 19th century and very well acted by Broderick.

‘Glory’ will always be in my top 5 of Civil War movies and it is neat that Civil War Times Illustrated is doing this retrospective. I still think the definitive movie on the Civil War has yet to be made. I’ve enjoyed many of them from the black and white version of ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ to ‘Gettysburg’ to ,in my opinion, the very underrated films like ‘Andersonville’ and ‘Pharoah’s Army.’ I hope more Civil War films will be made in the future. Maybe ‘Lincoln’ by Spielberg will be a good start.


3 04 2009

Apart from several historical errors, I think the key thing about Glory is that it doesn’t “distract” in the drama that it presents. In my opinion, that’s what makes it the best made film about the war to date. I still remember waiting anxiously for the release of the movie to… VHS – ha ha ha! Just a “couple of years ago, huh?!

3 04 2009

Hey Harry, By the way, that clip of Glory has been removed from access. Looks like a “terms of use” infringement by the person who originally posted it on YouTube.

3 04 2009
Harry Smeltzer

That’s been happening a lot lately – The Band video, I Heard The Bells video, now this one. I wonder if it’s my fault for calling attention to them?

3 04 2009
Craig Swain

I’m not a Gary Gallagher, but from the street side I think what made “Glory” an important movie with respect to how we see the Civil War has less to do with introspection and more to do with content classification. To put that in plain talk, prior to “Glory” in 1989 we were in a drought of Civil War movies (and arguably “war movies” in general, as at the time Hollywood felt “Commando” with the future Governor of California was enough to fill the genre.)

If you were a Civil War buff, you waited for the old movies to appear on the late movie (recall this was in a day before DVR, on-demand, DVD, digital cable with 999 channels, and VHS was still fighting Beta to be the ruling format). Let’s face it, there’s only so many days of the year a station will play “Horse Soldiers” or “They Died with their Boots on.” Prior to 1989, the character of “Robert E. Lee” appeared in only about a dozen movies (oh and an episode of “The Rebel: Johnny Yuma”). U.S. Grant received a little more attention, mostly on the small screen however. So the sort order of movies you’d like to see was a quick one.

At the time “Glory” was well received, and awakened a larger audience to the story of the Civil War, I would submit, because it was at last a main stream movie that was set IN the Civil War. That it portrayed the African-American experience in a noble manner is certainly a major point when looking at it in context.

Consider too, in the years after “Glory” the public was exposed to the PBS documentary, then “Gettysburg”, then the History (or is it Hitler?) Channel with weekly Civil War Journal episodes. Some would say the “whar” got over exposed a bit.

From my reenacting days, I found a surprising number of participants who would preface their answer to the question “How’d you get started..?” with the statement, “After I saw that movie Glory…” And believe it or not, many were wearing butternut!

The movie arrived on a public long deprived of depictions of the Civil War. A post-Vietnam Hollywood had been reluctant to show us war heroes on film. So “Glory” arrived at a perfect point in time with regard to demand. That it also exposed a long downplayed aspect of the war was doubly noteworthy.

3 04 2009

I had to stop reenacting because I just don’t look good in butternut… or gray. Though I do cut a dashing figure in blue… though I still think the pants make me look fat!

Incidentally, I wonder why the Richard Thomas’ rendition of Red Badge can’t be had… I recall seeing it years ago as a kid and not once since then.

3 04 2009
Craig Swain

Personally I didn’t think John Boy Walton was as good as Audie Murphy. The appearance of Bill Mauldin was also a plus in the John Huston version. Perhaps those who destroyed the uncut directors copy should have been tried for treason!

3 04 2009

Oh, Craig… you forgot about that “stirring” tv series, Blue and Gray… and also North and South. Didn’t they fall somewhere in between, but before Glory? I just remember that rather bad character who got kicked out of West Point and the way he said… “Mista Mayynne”

3 04 2009

Weren’t they (in the original RBoC) using authentic leather gear? I read that somewhere.

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