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Robert Harris

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Andrew V. McLaglen was a big man (6'7"), who filled another big man's shoes - those of his father, Victor (6'3"). In terms of height, he was one of the few directors that could look Mr. Wayne in the eye.

Beginning his film career in the mid-'40s as an assistant director on many John Wayne films, inclusive of several working under William Wellman, he moved up to director in 1956, and continued until 1991, as a prolific studio filmmaker.

Among his best known works are McLintock! (1963), The Rare Breed (1966), The Way West (1967), The Devil's Brigade, Hellfighters and Bandolero! (1968), The Undefeated (1969), Chisum (1970), Fool's Parade (1971) et al.

Many in the western genre, and all workmanlike productions, some of which have stood the test of time very nicely, and have made it to Blu-ray via Kino, as part of their deal with Universal.

Shenandoah (1965), a Civil War drama, starring James Stewart, along with a host of known faces, is unfortunately not one of those "stand the test of time" films.

It creaks of studio, of costumes from the racks, and acting at a more than good enough level.

I'd call it a film for James Stewart completists, and they should be happy with it, as the transfer on which the Blu-ray is based, is more than good enough for the purpose.

Color and densities are fine. Costumes look pretty. It's a nice stable image from an older transfer, which means that film grain is not something that will stand out.

One of the things that always gets me in historical dramas are people whose hair styles are of the era of production - perfectly quaffed - and with not a concept of reality in sight. That concept fits Shenandoah perfectly.


Image – 3.75

Audio – 4.5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes

RAH
 

Robert Crawford

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Totally disagree with you . This is one of the best Civil war dramas period. Better than GWTW. Maybe James Stewarts finest work.
I disagree with RAH too as I think this is one of Stewart's best films made in the 1960's. It's not on the level of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", but it's better than "The Rare Breed" and "Bandolero!".
 

jim_falconer

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It creaks of studio, of costumes from the racks, and acting at a more than good enough level.


One of the things that always gets me in historical dramas are people whose hair styles are of the era of production - perfectly quaffed - and with not a concept of reality in sight. That concept fits Shenandoah perfectly.
I like this film very much, and feel it’s one of Andy’s better directed films. That said, RAH makes a very valid point. The difference between director John Ford and him can be displayed quite obviously here. Ford made sure his union soldiers always had dirt and grime on their uniforms, their hair was messed and faces unshaven. This was especially apparent in The Horse Soldiers. Probably very close to how they looked during the civil war. Andrew V never rose to that level of detail.
 

Robert Crawford

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I like this film very much, and feel it’s one of Andy’s better directed films. That said, RAH makes a very valid point. The difference between director John Ford and him can be displayed quite obviously here. Ford made sure his union soldiers always had dirt and grime on their uniforms, their hair was messed and faces unshaven. This was especially apparent in The Horse Soldiers. Probably very close to how they looked during the civil war. Andrew V never rose to that level of detail.
There are bigger differences between John Ford and Andy than that, as Ford was a master storyteller for one difference.
 

jim_falconer

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There are bigger differences between John Ford and Andy than that, as Ford was a master storyteller for one difference.
Of course. Ford’s composition of shots was second to none. I think back to the image of the nurses in They Were Expendable, leaving the operating room while striking matches for their cigarettes. The lighting and camera work was incredible , and still awes to this very day.
 

lark144

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While I'm a aware a number of folks on this board revere this film, I saw it when it came out and had the same exact take as Mr. Harris. Oddly, though I didn't like it much, I remember it very well. Actually, I went to see it for Katherine Ross, so I wasn't disappointed in that regard.

While Stewart is excellent in it, the visuals reek of Universal City. The exteriors have that same hill that's in "Dracula", "Spartacus" and all the Ross Hunter melodramas. The interiors look like they were assembled in ten minutes, without much thought. The blocking and direction is as stiff as can be; it looked like it was made for TV, and had that same brightness, uniformity and rushed aspect to it. It was like they set up the camera and did a take for as long as they could and then went to the next one.

While there was interesting stuff about the Civil War in the script, none of that--other than in Jimmy Stewart's performance--managed to get onto the screen for me. The rest of the cast, in their hair styles and well as performances, could have been in "Father Knows Best". Other than Stewart, they acted as if they were all strangers in an airport terminal. There was no sense of purpose or danger or emotion.

And when I was watching this, I wasn't comparing it to John Ford, but another film I had just seen by Andrew McLangen, "The Way West", which has a tension and beauty and feeling for period and landscape and sense of commitment in both the performances and direction that "Shenandoah" doesn't.
 

David_B_K

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While Stewart is excellent in it, the visuals reek of Universal City. The exteriors have that same hill that's in "Dracula", "Spartacus" and all the Ross Hunter melodramas. The interiors look like they were assembled in ten minutes, without much thought. The blocking and direction is as stiff as can be; it looked like it was made for TV, and had that same brightness, uniformity and rushed aspect to it. It was like they set up the camera and did a take for as long as they could and then went to the next one.
I am not a fan of this film either for some of the reasons you mentioned. The look reminded me of those Universal mid 60's remakes of Beau Geste and The Plainsman. Always seemed like a TV movie to me.
 

Robert Crawford

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While I'm a aware a number of folks on this board revere this film, I saw it when it came out and had the same exact take as Mr. Harris. Oddly, though I didn't like it much, I remember it very well. Actually, I went to see it for Katherine Ross, so I wasn't disappointed in that regard.

While Stewart is excellent in it, the visuals reek of Universal City. The exteriors have that same hill that's in "Dracula", "Spartacus" and all the Ross Hunter melodramas. The interiors look like they were assembled in ten minutes, without much thought. The blocking and direction is as stiff as can be; it looked like it was made for TV, and had that same brightness, uniformity and rushed aspect to it. It was like they set up the camera and did a take for as long as they could and then went to the next one.

While there was interesting stuff about the Civil War in the script, none of that--other than in Jimmy Stewart's performance--managed to get onto the screen for me. The rest of the cast, in their hair styles and well as performances, could have been in "Father Knows Best". Other than Stewart, they acted as if they were all strangers in an airport terminal. There was no sense of purpose or danger or emotion.

And when I was watching this, I wasn't comparing it to John Ford, but another film I had just seen by Andrew McLangen, "The Way West", which has a tension and beauty and feeling for period and landscape and sense of commitment in both the performances and direction that "Shenandoah" doesn't.
I watched this movie too when it first came out, but I guess I was more forgiving of the film's look than you as it never bothered me that it looked like "The Virginian" TV series. There were several action movies made during that period that looked that way, but I kind of accepted them as such.
 

Thomas T

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What Universal film from the mid 1960s and 70s didn't look like a TV movie?

Speaking of Universal, I just worked on a major upcoming mini series and the day I worked on it, it was filmed on Universal's backlot New York City street and it felt a bit strange yet nostalgic working on a set that I'd seen in so many movies and TV shows. The fact that the story was set 50 years ago only accentuated everything.
 

Robert Crawford

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What Universal film from the mid 1960s and 70s didn't look like a TV movie?

Speaking of Universal, I just worked on a major upcoming mini series and the day I worked on it, it was filmed on Universal's backlot New York City street and it felt a bit strange yet nostalgic working on a set that I'd seen in so many movies and TV shows. The fact that the story was set 50 years ago only accentuated everything.
Exactly! :D
 

Robert Crawford

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I recall one or two U.K. newspaper film critics reviewing the film at the time and comparing it favourable with John Ford’s style.
Which is why my father taught me to not believe everything I read in a newspaper:). Today, he would include social media and TV sources.;)
 

JohnnyLancer

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One of the finest b western's ever made. This movie reeked of a double bill thanks to the universal lot of the 60s, but I kinda like it from the virginian to a bunch of those westerns like " rough night in Jericho, gunfight in abilene, ride for vengance, etc.

Shenandoah really is a neat film but more so a film for any jimmy stewart fan to see him in all his glory as a actor, and presence. Stewart may not have been brando or sir Laurence Oliver, but you can't tell me there were many other actors quite as natural as he was when saying a line besides fonda.

One of the great scenes in this movies which kinda echoed Stewart's real life and Vietnam is
when a young confederate soldier kills one of his sons. As a grown man to this day his little monolog brings tears to my eyes.
" I'm not gonna' kill you. I want you to live! I want you to live to be an old man. And I want you to have many... many, many children. And I want you to feel about your children then... the way I feel about mine now! And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of 'em, I want you to remember! I want you to remember"...
 
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Santee7

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One of the finest b western's ever made. This movie reeked of a double bill thanks to the universal lot of the 60s, but I kinda like it from the virginian to a bunch of those westerns like " rough night in Jericho, gunfight in abilene, ride for vengance, etc.

Shenandoah really is a neat film but more so a film for any jimmy stewart fan to see him in all his glory as a actor, and presence. Stewart may not have been brando or sir Laurence Oliver, but you can't tell me there were many other actors quite as natural as he was when saying a line besides fonda.

One of the great scenes in this movies which kinda echoed Stewart's real life and Vietnam is
when a young confederate soldier kills one of his sons. As a grown man to this day his little monolog brings tears to my eyes.
" I'm not gonna' kill you. I want you to live! I want you to live to be an old man. And I want you to have many... many, many children. And I want you to feel about your children then... the way I feel about mine now! And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of 'em, I want you to remember! I want you to remember"...
The two scenes that have always stayed in my memory from this film,much of the film is truly mediocre to be sure, but I feel the film is worth keeping mainly for two scenes, both Stewart scenes, and Stewart at his best.

The “do you like her?" scene.
When Doug McClure is asking for Stewart’s daughter’s hand in marriage.

And towards the third act, the “ If you don’t try, you don’t do…” scene.

Those are two “great life lesson moments” from the movies. I saw the film back in the sixties at the drive in with my folks when I was 8 years old.
I’m now 65, and I never forgot those two scenes. When I was teaching cinema at my community college I did a presentation on "What I learned from Westerns" and I started out with those two scenes.
 
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JohnnyLancer

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The two scenes that have always stayed in my memory from this film,much of the film is truly mediocre to be sure, but I feel the film is worth keeping mainly for two scenes, both Stewart scenes, and Stewart at his best.

The “do you like her?" scene.
When Doug McClure is asking for Stewart’s daughter’s hand in marriage.

And towards the third act, the “ If you don’t try, you don’t do…” scene.

Those are two “great life lesson moments” from the movies. I saw the film back in the sixties at the drive in with my folks when I was 8 years old.
I’m now 65, and I never forgot those two scenes. When I was teaching cinema at my community college I did a presentation on "What I learned from Westerns" and I started out with those two scenes.
That scene with Doug in the porch was brilliant. Very simple scene most likely a one camera setup and boy does McClure do a good job of just listening. " you ask her and she won't tell you, and you ask her what it is you did to make her cry- and you start to get angry. She won't tell you because doesn't know.... don't get angry with her just walk up and hug her...just a little loving... you understand sam?"
 

Santee7

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boy does McClure do a good job of just listening

so true.
I'm sure old Andy Jimmy and McClure felt damn good about that day of shooting. Way back fin the day when movie acting was all about listening, processing and responding to other human beings about human truths.
 

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