The Horse Soldiers (1959) – 126

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

No... the man I knew could lose both arms and still try to kick you to death.


Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is The Horse Soldiers (1959). This movie was directed by John Ford and features his visual styling. The story is military, but the real issue is between, the mission-oriented commander, played by John Wayne and a doctor, more concerned with lifesaving, played by William Holden. The movie is based on a real Civil War raid that took place as a part of General Grant’s campaign to capture Vicksburg and control the Mississippi River.

There are a lot of show veterans, so, let’s jump right in.



The single-minded Union Commander Col. John Marlowe was played by John Wayne. John Wayne was first covered way back in Episode 2 – Chisum (1970).

William Holden was outstanding as Doctor Maj. Henry Kendall. Holden was covered in Episode 79 – Stalag 17 (1953).

Willis Bouchey had a large role as Col. Phil Secord, a glory-seeking politician in military uniform. Bouchey was first covered in Episode 37 – The Violent Men (1955).

The regular John Wayne gang consisted of Ken Curtis, Fetus, as Cpl. Wilkie from Episode 49 – The Alamo (1960), Bing Russell as Dunker from Episode 12 – Billy the Kidd Versus Dracula (1966), Hank Worden as Deacon Clump from Episode 49 – The Alamo (1960), where he also played a reverend, and William Wellman Jr. uncredited as a Bugler from Episode 72 – The Born Losers (1967).

The great unheralded actor Strother Martin played the role of a Confederate deserter named Virgil. Strother Martin was first covered way back in Episode 3 – McLintock! (1963). Denver Pyle played another deserter Jackie Jo. Pyle was covered in Episode 49 – The Alamo (1960).

At Newton Station, Mississippi, the local Confederate commander is Col. Miles played by Carleton Young. Young was first covered in Episode 66 – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962).

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

More senior actor Basil Ruysdael, covered in Blackboard Jungle (1955) played the Reverend Commandant of a boys military academy, required to send his young men into combat, based on the Battle of New Market. The academy scenes were filmed the historic Jefferson College in Natchez, Mississippi. It is a nice place to visit if you are in the area.


Constance Towers played fierce southern Hannah Hunter. Towers was born in Montana in 1933. As a child Towers appeared on the radio and later had plans to be an opera singer. When her family moved to New York, she began studying at the Julliard School of Music and later at the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts (AADA).

Eventually, she was led from opera to stage work. Several movie roles came her way such as playing a school teacher in a musical Bring Your Smile Along (1955), a sappy southern in The Horse Soldiers (1959), Sergeant Rutledge (1960) with Jeffrey Hunter and Woody Strode, she played a stripper in Shock Corridor (1963), and finally, a reforming prostitute in The Naked Kiss (1964). However, her movie career never really took off.

She made her Broadway debut in 1965 and was truly a star in this medium. She also later became very successful on television as well, including soap operas. More recent movies include The Next Karate Kid (1994), The Relic (1997), and A Perfect Murder (1998).

Althea Gibson played the slave attendant to Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers). Gibson had a small part but she has a pretty amazing story. Gibson was born in 1927 in South Carolina. She grew up in Harlem and at the age of 15 won the New York City Black Tennis Championship. This got her a sports scholarship to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, FAMU. Rattlers Strike!

In 1950, Gibson was the first African-American to play in the US Tennis Championship. In 1951, she became the first African-American to play at Wimbledon. She won the French open in 1956, she won Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958, and she won the US Championship in 1957 and 1958. After retiring from tennis in 1958, Gibson traveled with the Harmen Globetrotters putting on exhibition. In 1964, she became the first African-American to play in the LPGA.

Gibson tried singing and acting, and this movie is part of the attempt. In The Horse Soldiers (1959) Gibson was able to get the contrarian director to change some of her dialogue. Her acting career never took off. Gibson retired from golf in 1977 and spent the next almost two decades working in New Jersey sports. She died in poverty in 2003 at the age of 76.

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Legendary cowboy star Hoot Gibson played the role of Sgt. Brown. It is said that he appeared in this film as a favor to his old friend John Ford. Edmund Richard Gibson, later known as Hoot, was born in 1892, in Nebraska. Hoot grew up in Wyoming, Colorado, and California and was a real cowboy. At 13, the young Toby Tyler ran away and worked in a circus for a time. He began rodeoing and in 1907, joined a wild west company for 4-years.

In 1910, Hoot began performing stunts in movies. After the main director that he was working with was murdered, he began doing stunt work for D.W. Griffith. While working as a stuntman and bit actor, he kept rodeo riding and won national and international championships.

By the late teens, Hoot was working with Harry Carey and director John Ford for films like Cheyenne’s Pal (1917), Straight Shooting (1917), The Secret Man (1917), and A Marked Man (1917).

When World War I broke out, Hoot joined the Army rising to the rank of Sargent in the Tank Corp, just like Elvis did later. In 1919, he was discharged and went back to the movies.

Hoot slowly became more popular and the Ford directed, Action (1921), made him a star. Amazingly, Hoot was making almost $15,000 a week in 1925. He made the transition to talkies with no problem.

Hoot’s movies made the transition to race car driving and flying cowboys, but he was eventually done in by the singing cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Hoot toured with a circus in 1938 and 1939 before returning to movies in 1943. His last big film was Trigger Law (1944).

Hoot did a little television work and cameos in movies like The Horse Soldiers (1959) and Ocean’s 11 (1960). In 1960, he was diagnosed with cancer and was out of money. He took any work he could find, including casino greeter and carnival appearances. He died in 1962 at the age of 70.


This movie begins with lines of Union cavalry slowly riding along a levy and singing a song about home. This is classic John Ford directing as he loved to show long lines of men set against a wide expanse. I was never sure if this made man larger, towering over the landscape, or small as compared to the landscape.

Union Col. John Marlowe is taken by his commanding general onboard a ship where he meets General’s Grant and Sherman. The implication is that the raid will help Grant take Vicksburg. They plan to head from LaGrange, Tennessee to attack the Newton Depot, now known as Newton, Mississippi. Marlowe and his men will destroy anything they can on the way down related to railroading. This is very similar to the true raid shown in The General (1926) and The Great Locomotive Chase (1956). Grant warns Marlowe not to get caught and spend the rest of the war in Andersonville Prison located in Georgia.

Back in LaGrange, the Union cavalry is getting ready to leave. The men have been led to believe they are going to Nashville for a parade. Colonel Secord (Willis Bouchey), announces that he is going into politics.

Cpl. Wilkie (Ken Curtis), Sgt. Dunker (Bing Russell) and another man are sitting around swapping rumors, a favorite pastime of soldiers since the dawn of civilization. A white coat wearing Doctor Maj. Henry Kendall (William Holden) arrives and reports that he has been assigned to the raid.

Trying to be snotty, Marlowe says Kendall is out of uniform. When he finds out he is a doctor, he pitches a fit to the commanding general. The general says the doctor goes along. Marlowe takes Kendall in for a talk. Kendall is shocked that Marlowe plans to leave his wounded behind. Kendall is assigned to check the men for fitness and he stands up to Marlowe. Kendall removes the veteran Sgt. Major (Jack Pennick) from duty. Kendall assistant is Hoppy Hopkins (O.Z. Whitehead).

Marlowe sends his men to capture another Sgt. Major and they catch Sgt. Maj. Kirby (Judson Pratt) to go on the raid.

The troops ride out and it’s not long until the men realize they are heading south. Soon after they enter southern territory and send out scouts, they come under attack from some Confederate dismounted cavalry. Two Union soldiers are wounded and Kendall gives aid. One of them later dies.

Kendall is called to a slave cabin where a woman is giving birth. When Marlowe finds out he places the doctor under officers arrest and orders him to only work on soldiers. Since the Union force has been discovered, Marlowe sends about 1/3 of his troops back.

At sundown, they arrive at a plantation, which I believe is Oakland Plantation, a part of Cane River Creole National Historical Park. In the movie, two ladies are in the house, white owner Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers) and devoted slave Lukey (Aletha Gibson). Marlowe kicks his way in and gets snotty. Hannah Hunter comes down and plays the southern belle. Marlowe says his men will be sleeping on the property that night and she is under house arrest. Hannah curses the Yankees as soon as they are out of site.

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

She returns as a belle and charms Secord and invites them to dinner. Kendall declines because he is under arrest. That night at dinner they are well fed and dined. She belles it up and does chicken breast vs human breast showing. Marlowe says they will use the room for a meeting and she leads them to a smoking room. Kendall is sent to guard Hannah as she goes upstairs.

Marlowe and the other officers go over the plan. Lukey goes in with Hannah and when Kendall opens the fire box he learns that he can hear the men talking in the room below. Marlowe tells them that they will head across the southern territory to Baton Rouge after the attack on Newton Station. Kendall opens the door and he sees Lukey and Hannah listening at the other fire pipe.

Downstairs Kendall grabs the two ladies and throws them into the meeting room and tells that they were listening. After being caught, Hannah goes full Confederate. Marlowe forces Hannah and Lukey to travel with the cavalry to protect their movements. On the march, Hannah makes a break but is quickly run down after she falls in the water. She is forced to watch Union soldiers, dry her underwear while she sits in a blanket.

The scouts soon return and say an enemy scouting patrol is on the other side of the river. The Union cavalry hides in the trees to let the enemy pass by. Hannah tries to warn them but Marlowe chocks her out. On Kendall advice, Marlow gets a hat full of water and dumps it on her. Two sergeants are demoted for letting her escape. Hannah slaps Marlowe for not allowing her privacy.

The scouting party, including Deacon Clump (Hank Worden), is fired upon from a barn. The men in the barn quickly surrender. The two Confederates are deserters Virgil (Strother Martin) and Jackie Jo (Denver Pyle). They are holding the local sheriff (Russell Simpson) as a prisoner. Hannah rides in and thinks, Marlowe is mistreating the sheriff. Marlowe gives the deserters first aid and new cigars. The two deserters give all of the info on their old units. Marlowe then puts on a glove and knocks out the two deserters. They then tie them up and give them to the sheriff. Marlowe has told the sheriff that they are heading to Vicksburg.

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Union cavalry makes it to Newton Station and has a rather cold reception from the ladies. There are wounded Confederates waiting in the town. The local Confederate commander is the wounded Col. Miles (Carleton Young). Kendall knows Marlowe from the old days fighting out west. Kendell says Miles is West Point and he can’t believe he gave up without a fight. Just then they get news that a Rebel train is coming in fast.

The Union forces quickly form a defensive barricade in the road and between the buildings. The Confederates on the train jump off and charge straight into the barricade where they are shot down like dogs. When most of the Confederates are dead, the now wounded Col. Miles comes down the street holding the battle flag. Kendall tackles him to save his life.

Kendall and a Confederate doctor tend to the wounded. Hannah helps for a while, but like Scarlett, she has to leave the hospital. Lukey leads the African-Americans in making bandages. The Union troops get busy tearing up the railroad and make Sherman bowties. The bowties are made by heating up a section of railroad track and wrapping it around a tree or a telephone pole.

In the real war, there is was no real Battle of Newton Depot. The Union forces took it and burned a bunch of stuff up with little to no resistance. Marlowe sits with a young man as he dies. Finally, Col. Miles makes it to the operating table.

Outside of the hospital Marlowe drinks and rages on everyone. Hannah studies him before she breaks down. Marlowe explains that he hates doctors because they killed his true love in an operation. As Kendal gets ready to leave he has a peaceful moment with his friend Col. Miles. Miles says that Confederate Gen. Bedford Forrest is after them and they will soon be in Andersonville prison. Hoppy stays with the wounded prisoners.

The Union cavalry heads towards Baton Rouge leaving Newton Station a burning mess. The townspeople send word that the Union forces are moving southwest towards Baton Rouge. Col. Secord is spreading sedition against his commander. Dunker has blood poisoning and Kendall uses green moss to treat it and Marlowe is disgusted.

Later, the troop is passing an African American church and are fired on by a Confederate militia. Lukey is shot and Kendall begins to treat her. Before he can start, she dies. All the Union men, including Sgt. Brown (Hoot Gibson) and Marlowe are kind to Hannah.

In the morning, Kendall finds that Dunker has removed his poultice. Kendall takes him in for surgery. The troop beds down for the night and Kendall has to remove the leg. They plan on hitting a salt factory in the morning.

The Confederate commander of an artillery battery says he needs the aid of the cadets from the Jefferson Military Academy. The Commandant (Basil Ruysdael) says his oldest boy is only 16, but he agrees to help. The 16-year-old student commander orders his boys up. At dawn, they move to join the artillery battery. The Commandant leads the boys, except two that have mumps, forward with only a bible and a cane in his hands.

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

As they pass a house, a woman comes down and begs that her son, one of the drummers, be excused, because his paw, his uncles, and brothers have all been killed. The Commandant releases the boy and the mother drags the fighting child into the house. In the morning, Kendall tells Marlowe that he lost Dunker during the operation. Marlowe jumps on his ass and Kendall demands a fight.

Meanwhile, the little drummer boy escapes from his mother’s house. Marlowe and Kendall head to the woods to fight it out. Their one punch John Wayne fight is cut short when the Confederate artillery battery opens up on the camped troops. The Union men see the boys crossing the field in a linear formation. Marlowe stops the Union men from firing but the boys fire a couple of volleys. The troop mounts and gets ready to run. The drummer boy is caught by Wilkie and Marlowe says spank him before you let him go. The boys charge with bayonets as the Union cavalry flees.

Later, the scouts come in and report that the road is blocked by Confederate regulars and that cavalry is closing on them from behind. Deacon says he knows the way through the swamp because he used to work on the Underground Railroad, smuggling escaped slaves north.

Quickly, Confederate cavalry finds the Union trail into the swamp. Marlowe keeps his weakened band moving forward. Finally, the Union forces make it to a bridge over the river. Marlowe tells Hannah that they are leaving her behind to be picked up by the Confederate forces. About that time they start receiving fire from the side of the river they want to get to. Marlowe is hit in the foot by the fire. He is forced to go under the knife of Kendall. Hannah tends to Marlowe as he looks at her like he is in love.

He orders men to find a way across the river and orders Secord to fight and not surrender. Kendall takes the bullet out of Marlowe’s leg and fixes the wound. Marlowe goes to fight and Kendall gets ready to treat the wounded.

The scouts find a place to cross. Marlowe leads a charge across the bridge into the throat of the enemy. The attack overpowers the Confederates. But the Union troops pay a huge price. With the bridge in their hands, the Union forces place dynamite on the bridge. Kendall decides to stay with the wounded even though he will end up in a POW camp.

Marlowe tells Hannah that he is in love with her and they have a sad moment as the Rebel cavalry closes in. As Hannah watches, Marlowe lights the fuse and gallops across the bridge ahead of the explosion. The Confederate come in and they have a surgeon so Kendall could have left. He takes Hannah back into the hospital.


This movie was based on an actual Union raid during the Civil War. General Grant had been trying for almost a year to capture Vicksburg and thus control the Mississippi River. In the Spring of 1863, Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson led about 1,700 cavalry trooper in a raid on Newton Station. They tore up a lot of railroads and burned supplies but there was very little fighting.

The famous Confederate cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest was in Alabama chasing another Union raid leaving north Mississippi fairly open. There was no battle with a boys school and Grierson and his men made it back to Union-held Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

These raids had the effect of drawing resources away from the defense of Vicksburg, by Confederate General Pemberton. Grant was able to take Vicksburg on July 4th, 1863. The town did not celebrate the nations birthday for over 100 years afterward.

World-Famous Short Summary – Hannah Capulet and Marlowe Montague fall madly in love.

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at There are links in the podcast show notes as well. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

From Here to Eternity (1953) – 112

From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Make a pot of coffee, no make a barrel of coffee!


Welcome to today’s show, From Here to Eternity (1953), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is From Here to Eternity (1953). This is a war film but there is very little fighting in this movie. It is a love story, but it is all secondary to being a soldier. Burt Lancaster stars as a top sergeant that gets involved with Deborah Kerr’s character. Lancaster’s character tries to take care of Montgomery Clift character as he falls for a prostitute played by Donna Reed.

The title of the film is taken from a Rudyard Kipling poem title “Gentlemen-Rankers” and the lines are:
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,

A gentleman ranker is an enlisted soldier who may have been a former officer or a gentleman qualified through education and background to be a commissioned officer.

Singer Billy Bragg echoes this in his song “Island of No Return”
I wish Kipling and the Captain were here
To record our pursuits for posterity
Me and the Corporal out on a spree
Damned from here to eternity

So, it all fits in with the movie.

This movie was directed by Fred Zinnemann. It is based on a novel by James Jones and the book is red hot and full of salty language. The movie was cooled down a bit using water as a metaphor. This film was nominated for 13 Oscars and won 8, including Best Picture, Best Director and both the male and female supporting roles. The film is currently rated 52 on the American Film Institute (AFI) list of America’s 100 Greatest Movies. Roger Ebert places the beach scene in his 100 Great Movie Moments.

The characters are very well developed and the four mains are supported by Frank Sinatra and Ernest Borgnine.

So, let’ jump right into the actors, many of whom of show veterans.



Burt Lancaster played tougher than nails top Sgt. Milton Warden. The great Burt Lancaster was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Cast against type, Donna Reed played Alma, the clip girl, aka Lorene. Reed was first covered in Episode53 – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).

Willis Bouchey acted in a small role as an uncredited Army Lieutenant Colonel. Bouchey was covered in Episode 37 – The Violent Men (1955).

Ernest Borgnine played the apply named Sgt. ‘Fatso’ Judson Episode 18 – The Vikings (1958).

Claude Akins played Sgt. ‘Baldy’ Dhom and was one of the unit’s boxers. This movie was Akins first. Akins was covered in Episode 110 – The Caine Mutiny (1954).


From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Montgomery Clift played one of the main roles as Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt. The man’s name if Clift. At some point during this show, I will say Cliff. Try to ignore it.

Clift was born in Nebraska in 1920. He started on Broadway very early at the age of 13. He stayed in New York for a decade before being lured to Hollywood. His extensive theater training made him a very disciplined and accomplished actor.

His first film was Red River (1948) where he shared almost equal screen time with John Wayne. This movie was followed by a number of great roles such as The Search (1948), A Place in the Sun (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), where he nailed the role of the lonely complex soldier, and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) where Clift was so great when playing a victim of the Nazis, that you feel great sorry for him.

Clift had to hide his homosexuality and did this fairly well with the help of the studio. By 1950, Clift was plagued with colitis and pill addiction. In 1956, Clift and Elizabeth Taylor were filming Raintree County (1957) and a drunken Clift crashed into a tree. He had to have facial reconstruction. Even after he recovered he continued to take drugs.

Finally, he moved to New York and settled down somewhat. Clift was set to star with Taylor in Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) but died suddenly in 1966 at the age of 45. The cause was coronary disease.

Famous acting teacher Robert Lewis said from the crash in 1956 until his death in 1966 was the “longest suicide in history.”

Deborah Kerr played Karen Holmes, the wife of Captain Holmes. Kerr took this role to break her prim and proper reputation. Kerr was born in Scotland in 1921. By the time, Kerr was a teenager, her aunt some stage work. This lead to roles in English films such as Major Barbara (1941), Love on the Dole (1941), and Black Narcissus (1947).

In 1947, Kerr moved to America and went to work for MGM. Initially, she was cast as a prudish English woman in films like The Hucksters (1947), Edward, My Son (1949) and Quo Vadis (1951). To get away from these roles, she took the role of an adulteress in From Here to Eternity (1953). Kerr was great in The King and I (1956) with Yul Brynner. However, I thought she was fantastic as nun trapped on an enemy island with a marine played by Robert Mitchum in Heaven Knows, Mrs. Allison (1957). Other great performances include An Affair to Remember (1957), with Cary Grant, Separate Tables (1958), The Sundowners (1960) another of my favorites where she and Robert Mitchum played Australian itinerant workers, as she dreamed of a home, The Innocents (1961), and The Night of the Iguana (1964).

Deborah Kerr, about the famous beach scene

In 1968, she walked away from films, being disgusted with the changing morals. She did some television and returned for two films in late 1980s. Kerr holds the record for the most Oscar nominations without a win, six. In 1994, she was given an honorary Oscar for her body of work. Kerr passed away in 2007 at the age of 86.

From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Frank Sinatra played the ethnic role of Angelo Maggio AKA Maggio the Wop. Sinatra’s career was at an all-time low and he was hired at a discount. Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1915. He grew up on the tough street of the Jersey town but he had a voice. He began singing and worked his way up working for Harry James and then Tommy Dorsey. With the help of his agent and first wife, Sinatra crafted his image into that of a tough street guy and began a solo singing career in 1942.

Sinatra started making small appearances in movies and then moved to the big time with Anchors Aweigh (1945) co-starting dancer/actor Gene Kelly. Sinatra was in a couple more musicals with Kelly, On the Town (1949) and Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949). In the early 1950s, vocal cord hemorrhage, a public affair with Ava Gardner, and a divorce hurt his career. However, Sinatra came back with a vengeance playing Maggio in From Here to Eternity (1953), a role that won him a best-supporting actor Oscar. He won an Oscar for best-supporting actor. Sinatra played a heroin-addicted card dealer in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). He won the best actor Oscar for this role.

Sinatra continued to make movies through the late 50s and early 60s with films such as Guys and Dolls (1955), The Joker Is Wild (1957) and Some Came Running (1958), Ocean’s 11 (1960), and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964). Sinatra roared back in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), which many believe is his best film. As the 1960s rolled to an end Sinatra kept busy with a spate of war movies that include None But the Brave (1965), about enemy soldiers trapped on an island, Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), about the birth of the nation of Israel, and Von Ryan’s Express (1965). He made a few more detective films, but Dirty Dingus Magee (1970) put his acting on a decade-long hiatus. Sinatra played a detective in The First Deadly Sin (1980), had a cameo in Cannonball Run II (1984), and his last acting was on television’s “Magnum, P.I.” 1980. Sinatra died at the age of 82 in 1998.

I always imagined that Frank Sinatra with the Johnny Fontaine character from The Godfather (1972) and the role the Don got for him with the horse head was From Here to Eternity (1953). Of course, I have no evidence for this, I just always thought. A quick internet search tells me that many people have also had this idea.


In Hawaii, in 1941, Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) transfers to a rifle company from a cushy job in the Bugle Corp at Fort Shafter. He had to give up his corporal stripes to transfer because prior to World War II enlisted ranks stayed with the unit. His new company is at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.

As Prewitt approaches the orderly room, he sees his old buddy Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) outside. Maggio cannot understand why his friend would leave the easy job. First Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) starts processing him in when the company commander Captain Dana “Dynamite Holmes (Phil Ober) arrives and takes over the Prewitt’s reporting. The Captain demands to know why he left the Bugle Corp. Under duress, Prewitt talks the Captain and 1st Sgt Warden, that he was removed as first-bulger because his old 1st Sgt. had a friend that was not as good placed in that position. Neither man can really believe he is that stubborn. The Captain finally gets around to asking Prewitt to join his boxing team saying with a good middle weight they can will the Division championship on December 15th. He says all of the boxers in the company are None Commissioned Officers. Prewitt flatly refuses and refers to a sparring accident where he hurt his friend. Holmes leaves for the day and Warden processes him in.

From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953)

About this time, Captain Holmes wife Karen (Deborah Kerr). The supply sergeant says she has been known to fool around. Warden and Karen verbally spar before she leaves. Back at her home the Captain comes in and soon become clear that their marriage is broken and she does not inquire into his actions as per her agreement. The cause of the trouble is not told at this time.

Holmes has the sergeants on the boxing team start riding Prewitt. Prewitt tells his friend Maggio that he can handle anything these guys can throw at him.The sergeant (Claude Akins, John Dennis) put the press on Prewitt while he playing pool and makes a triple ball shot. Prewitt says he can handle anything these guys can throw at him.That night Corporal Buckley (Jack Warden) tells him that the top sergeant will be fair to him and that he served in the Boxer revolution in China. He has to run punishment for allegedly being out of step and other small infractions. When Maggie stands up for his friend, he has to run punishment as well.

The Captain tells Warden that he will be staying out all night. Warden uses this opportunity to get out more as advised by his commander, to go see Karen Holmes. He makes an excuse to get inside and then she decides she wants him to stay. She talks about not having a child. They kiss and it shows the rain so you figure out the rest.

Finally, payday comes and the men get a chance to go into town. Maggio gives his friend a nice Hawaiian shirt to wear. After they get a snoot full, they head to a private club that Maggio is a member of. He vouches for Prewitt and he is allowed to join as well. Prewitt only has eyes for Lorene (Donna Reed) who has her hair dyed black for this role.

As Warden gets ready to go out to secretly meet Karen Sgt. Stark (George Reeves) says he has been with her himself and something is wrong with her. Warden and Karen meet far away from the base. At first, she is very passive aggressive and tries to run Warden off. At one point Warden says your “….acting like Lady Nancy Astor’s horse…”. This means something like you are over-dressed or feel very self-important. He calms her down and they both say they have bathing suits on under their clothes.

Sgt. ‘Fatso’ Judson (Ernest Borgnine) is banging on the piano like a sign language ape that has been hit in the head with a rock. Prewitt starts talking to Lorene but has to leave when Maggio and Fatso get into a fight over the piano playing. Fatso runs the stockade and is a bad person to have as an enemy. When Prewitt gets back to Alma another man has moved in. The two men do some verbal sparring before Alma and the new guy leaves for another room. Lorene comes back later and Prewitt tells her he is not like the rest. She takes him to the VIP room.

Back at the beach Warden and Karen go swimming and then have that iconic scene of the wave crashing over them as they kiss on the beach. I think it took about 8 hours to get this scene made. After that lovely scene, Warden starts giving her grief about the other men she has had affairs with. Karen digs in and tells the story of her husband’s cheating and how he failed to bring a doctor when she was giving birth and the baby died. Also, she can’t have any children. In the book, he gave her a social disease. Not like social media. Warden feels bad and they kiss again.

Maggie comes up to the VIP room to collect his buddy and share his whiskey. Maggio leaves and says the treatment starts again tomorrow. He tells Alma the story of sparring with his friend Dixie Wales and accidentally putting him into a coma that resulted in him losing his eyesight.

Training starts again in the morning and Corporal Buckley tells him the boxing sergeants are going to start riding him full force. They make him crawl through water and did and fill pits.

One day in the boxing ring Prewitt is cleaning the floor and the Captain tells Sgt. Galovich to kick the spit bucket over. He demands Prewitt clean the mess. However, Prewitt refuses. The Captain orders Prewitt to hike with a full pack up to the top of mountain and back before returning to see the Captain. When Prewitt returns, he refuses to apologize and they make him do it again. The Captain tells Warden to prepare court-martial papers. Warden seems to goes along but tricks the Captain into giving him double punishment instead.

Prewitt is on extra duty for a month and he handles everything. Warden goes in to try and talk him into boxing because it’s the smart play. Prewitt says I ain’t smart. Warden admires the toughness in the man even though he tries to break him.

Warden goes to a bar named Choy’s and Maggio and Prewitt are there as well. Prewitt picks up a bugle and shows how good he really is. Maggio has a picture of his family. Fatso comes in and looks at the picture of Maggio’s sister and says something tasteless to Prewitt about her. Maggio clubs him over the head with a stool and Fatso pulls a knife. Warden steps in saying it would be too much paperwork if Maggio was killed. Fatso then comes after Warden who breaks a beer bottle in half. Fatso decides not to try it. Burt Lancaster is so cool. But he warns Maggio that one day he will end up in the stockade. Prewitt picks up Fatso’s knife. Warden tells Prewitt he can have a weekend pass.

From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953)

That weekend Maggio is getting ready to go out and Sgt. Galovich grabs him for guard duty. Lorene is kind of hard on Prewitt as she is busy at the club. She tells him that her name is really Alma.

Prewitt goes to another club and Alma finally joins him. He tells her he loves the Army. When she says, the Army doesn’t love him back. He tells her that just because you love something doesn’t mean it has to love you back. He also tells her that he played bugle in front of the president at Arlington Cemetery. Maggio shows up drunk and finally tells him that he has gone AWOL from guard duty. Alma accepts Prewitt going to look after his friend.

In this scene, Maggio grabs two olives and throws them along the bar pretending to shot craps. He yells snake-eyes, the story of his life. This was all ad-libbed by Sinatra and was shot as his audition. Sinatra was thought of so low at the time they made him pay for his own audition expenses, flying from Africa, where his wife Ava Gardner was filming Mogambo (1953), to Hawaii. The relationship between Sinatra and Gardner was so bad during the African film that she may have had an abortion, a story relayed by a friend. Good friend.

The scene in which Maggio meets Prew and Lorene in the bar after he walks off guard duty was actually Frank Sinatra’s screen test for the part of Maggio. To impress director Fred Zinnemann, he did an ad-lib using olives as dice and pretending to shoot craps. The entire sequence was kept as is and used in the picture.

Prewitt finds Maggio naked and goes to get a cab. Two military policemen come and arrest him before Prewitt gets back. Finally, they get word that Maggio has been given 6 months in the stockade. When Maggio gets to the stockade, Fatso is waiting for him.

Things ease up for Prewitt and he and Alma are dating regularly and she even gives him a key to her house. Warden and Karen are still seeing each other. Every time they see soldiers they have to hide. Tired of hiding Karen proposes that Warden becomes an officer so she can divorce her husband and marry him. He finally agrees.

Prewitt asks Alma to marry him. He says he will box to get his stripes back. Alma says she wants to go back home in style and marry a proper man.

Karen tells the Captain she is seeing someone and wants a divorce.

Prewitt finds out that Fatso is beating Maggio. Maggio like Prewitt won’t complain. Prewitt is pulling grass and Sgt. Galovich comes and steps on his hand. Galovich starts hitting Prewitt but Prewitt won’t fight back. The detail sergeant goes to Holmes and Warden for help. Holmes says he will take care of it. Prewitt finally starts hitting Galovich in the midsection. Holmes just watches as Prewitt is knocked to the ground. Prewitt gets up and destroys Galovich. The base commander and a Major see Captain Holmes not stopping the fight.

With Galovich being beaten, Holmes stops in to stop the fight. Galovich says Prewitt started the fight. All the men, including some of the boxers, say Galovich started the fight. Holmes says that the matter will be forgotten since his man was at fault. The other boxers now respect Prewitt.

Prewitt and his friends are drinking and singing. Warden is nearby and drunk as a skunk. Prewitt heads for Choy’s. On the way, he runs into Warden and they share a bottle. Warden is proud of Prewitt but knows he will be broken one day. Maggio staggers back through the dark. He tells of the beatings he has taken and the fall he took while escaping. Maggio dies in his arms.

Later, a tearful Prewitt plays taps for his dead friend. Back in town Prewitt waits outside the New Congress Club until Fatso comes out. They go into the alley and Fatso pulls a knife. Prewitt pulls out the one Fatso left from his first fight with Maggio. During the scuffle, Prewitt kills Fatso but is wounded in the gut himself. Prewitt goes to Alma’s house to hide out.

Warden reads about the killing and carries Prewitt as present for duty when he was AWOL.

Since the fight was witnessed by the base commander, an investigation was conducted. They pull Holmes in and tell him he is going to be court-martialed. Holmes asks if there is any other way and the commander tells him to resign immediately.

Captain Ross takes over the company and says no man will earn his stripes through boxing. He has Galovich demoted to private and put in charge of cleaning the latrines. About this time, Karen calls Warden and says she needs to see him right away. The calendar on the wall shows that it is December 6th, 1941. Karen and Warden meet and she says she has to ship back to the states with her husband. Warden admits that he has not put in the paperwork to become an office. Karen now knows that the two will never be together. Warden is more concerned with finding Prewitt than being with her.

Prewitt is getting better but he is drinking and kind of snotty. Before 8 am on Sunday morning the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Warden takes charge of the men as Prewitt lays in a fever. Warden tells the Sergeants to get Browning Automatic Rifles and take ammo to the roof. He tells the other enlisted men to get ready and wait by their bunks. He grabs a cook and says make a pot of coffee, no make a barrel of coffee. Even with planes attacking the corporal refuses to issue ammo. Warden has the men break down the door. Warden and the other Sergeants go to the roof to shoot at Japanese planes. They bring down at least one. Warden is hip firing a 50-caliber with his hand on the barrel. There are some nice cuts of the real attack on Pearl Harbor cut in.

That night Prewitt gets dressed and heads back to the base, even though there is a curfew, a blackout, and martial law. The guards are really nervous expecting a land attack to follow. As Prewitt runs across a golf course, a guard calls for him to halt and then fires. He is shot and falls dead into the sand trap. We Warden finds out he says Prewitt was a good soldier. Warden looks at Prewitt’s bugle mouthpiece and laments about him being a hard head and not boxing. Because of the attack, the boxing tournament will be canceled anyway.

Some weeks later Alma and Karen meet on a ship leaving for the states. Karen throws two leis in the water. She says if they float inland you will return to the islands. Alma says she will never come back. Karen then says her fiancé was in the Army Air Corp and was killed during the attack. She says his Silver Star went to his mother and they were very fine southern folks. When she says the name Robert E. Lee Prewitt, Karen makes the connection and knows Alma is lying. She doesn’t say anything as Alma hold Prewitt’s bugle mouthpiece.


The book really had to be sanitized of homosexuality and language before they could get the Army’s support to make this movie. Also, the cat houses had to be changed to gentlemen’s clubs.

Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Studios wanted Aldo Ray for Prewitt, Robert Mitchum or Edmond O’Brien for Warden, Rita Hayworth for Karen, Julie Harris for Lorene, and Eli Wallach to play Maggio. That would be awesome.

Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift were both nominated for the best actor Oscar, but how could you decide. So, William Holden won for his great performance in Stalag 17 (1953). His wife said this was a prize for not winning for Sunset Blvd. (1950) when he deserved it. Ouch.

World-Famous Short Summary – soldiers, and hookers, and jailers, oh my or two drunken soldiers try to find happiness with prostitutes and broken women

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. I am on just about all of the social media’s but Twitter is my main place. You can find the links in the show notes. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Seven Days in May (1964) – 111

Seven Days in May (1964)

Seven Days in May (1964)

Yes, I know who Judas was. He was a man I worked for and admired until he disgraced the four stars on his uniform.


Welcome to today’s show, Seven Days in May (1964), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is Seven Days in May (1964). This star-studded military movie doesn’t feature any combat. But there is enough action for anyone, as a rogue general tries to replace the US president in a military coup. Every actor in this movie is amazing but I want to call out Edmond O’Brien who plays a drunken Senator. Rod Serling wrote the screenplay and the movie was directed by John Frankenheimer.

So, let’ jump right into the actors, many of whom of show veterans.



Burt Lancaster played Gen. James Mattoon Scott. The great Burt Lancaster was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Kirk Douglas played Col. Martin ‘Jiggs’ Casey. Douglas was first covered in Episode 4 – In Harm’s Way (1965).

Fredric March plays seemingly weak President Jordan Lyman. March was first covered in Episode 67 – The Buccaneer (1938).

Edmond O’Brien was great as permanently inebriated Sen. Raymond Clark. O’Brien was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Martin Balsam plays the president’s aide Paul Girard. Balsam was covered in Episode 26 – Time Limit (1957).

Hugh Marlowe played the role of Harold McPherson. Marlowe was covered in Episode 28 – World Without End (1956).

Whit Bissell plays Sen. Frederick Prentice Bissell was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).


John Houseman played Vice-Adm. Farley C. Barnswell and was uncredited. Houseman always plays a stodgy old Englishman so I was very surprised to find out he was born in Romania in 1902. He was raised and educated in England.

In 1925, he moved to New York City and began working in theater. He was also a founding member of the Mercury Theatre. During the Great Depression, he worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) financed Federal Theater Project. He was the producer of the “Cradle Will Rock” with Orson Welles and known leftists Howard Da Silva and Will Geer. Grandpa, say it ain’t so. Tim Robbins directed a movie version Cradle Will Rock (1999) which had more stars than I can name here. It is really worth a watch.

Houseman directed more plays and went to work for the US government during World War II on the Voice of America. Following the war, he directed and produced Julius Caesar (1953), the one with Marlon Brando. He was a producer on a lot of films, and television shows, such as Lust for Life (1956), Executive Suite (1954), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Holiday for Sinners (1952), On Dangerous Ground (1951), They Live by Night (1948), and The Blue Dahlia (1946).

Houseman devoted much of his life to teaching and even help formed the acting school at the Julliard School for the Arts. He played the stern law professor in The Paper Chase (1973) and won an Oscar. His talents were in high demand as a supporting actor. Houseman died in 1988 at the age of 86.

Seven Days in May (1964)

Seven Days in May (1964)

Ava Gardner played the role of Eleanor Holbrook. Gardner was born in 1922 in the mighty metropolis of Grabtown, North Carolina. This hometown beauty gained a love of going barefoot being raised on a tobacco farm. When Ava was 18, someone noticed a picture of her in her brother-in-law’s photography studio. On the strength of just her looks, she was given a contract with MGM.

Since Gardner had no previous acting experience, the 17 films she made between 1942 and 1945 were one-liners and small parts. Ava was then cast in Whistle Stop (1946), a B-movie drama with George Raft. Next, she was loaned to Universal and starred in one of the best film noirs ever, The Killers (1946), with Burt Lancaster.

Although she remained under contract to MGM for 17 years, a lot of her best work was when she was loaned to other studios for movies like Mogambo (1953) and Bhowani Junction (1956). She made many quality movies such as The Sun Also Rises (1957) with an aging Errol Flynn, the sci-fi On the Beach (1959), 55 Days at Peking (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), and The Night of the Iguana (1964).

Living in Europe, she made a few films just for the money such as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), and disaster flicks Earthquake (1974) and The Cassandra Crossing (1976). This beautiful and talented actress died early at the age of 67 in 1990.

Richard Anderson played the role of Col. Murdock. Anderson did some acting before his time in the Army. After he was discharged, he worked in summer stock and radio. He was eventually signed with MGM and was in some important movies such as Forbidden Planet (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959), Seven Days in May (1964), and Tora, Tora, Tora (1970), which is much better than Pearl Harbor (2001). However, he was a strong television actor. He was a regular on the last year of “Perry Mason” 1959, and The Fugitive 1964-1967.  However, to most of us, he will always be Oscar from “The Six Million Dollar Man” 1974-1978 and on “The Bionic Woman” 1976-1978. Anderson is currently age 90.


The movie credits roll showing the articles of the Constitution.

Monday, May 12

Two groups of picketers are outside of the White House. One group is strongly against President Jordan Lyman and the other is for peace and a non-nuclear world. The former group is carrying signs that say elect Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff four-star Air Force General, James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster). If you need a mnemonic for general ranks it is “be my love general” – which means 1-star Brigadier General, 2-stars Major General, 3-stars Lieutenant General, 4-stars just General, and 5-stars General of the Army. There will be a test later.

Seven Days in May (1964)

Seven Days in May (1964)

One of the anti-Lyman protestors attacks the “Peace on Earth” sign and a huge fight breaks out between the two groups. The Capital Police have to come in and break it up. Inside of the White House, the President’s popularity is shown to be 29%. His doctor is examining him while his aide Paul Girard (Martin Balsam) is working. The President is trying to stop a nationwide strike. His doctor wants him to take a vacation but the President says he will swim in the White House pool.

Senator Raymond Clark, D-Ga. (Edmond O’Brien) comes in to join the president. They mention that the VP is out of the country. Clark explains that the USA and the USSR will dismantle their atomic bombs at a result of the treaty. Lyman explains why we must have the treaty, so the world is not destroyed. He also advises the Senator to lay off on the booze.

General Scott is testifying in front of a Senate committee. General Scott is explaining why the treaty is a bad idea when Senator Frederick Prentice, R-Calif. (Whit Bissell) and Senator Clark gets into a verbal spat. General Scott is flanked by his two aides, Colonel Martin “Jiggs” Casey, USMC (Kirk Douglas) and Col. Murdock (Richard Anderson).

Jiggs is devoted to General Scott. On the way back to the Pentagon, General Scott tells Jiggs that no one on Capitol Hill or in the press corps must find out about the alert scheduled for Sunday, May 18. The General says this “one must be deep and dark, right down the line.”

Back at the Pentagon, Jiggs receives a top-secret communication that was sent out early in the morning to all the key military commanders in the US military asking for their Preakness Stakes bets, the race being run on Sunday, May 18. Of the major commanders that were sent the message, only Vice-Admiral Farley C. Barnswell USN (John Houseman), ComSixthFleet says he will not bet.

Jiggs goes back to his office and finds Colonel William “Mutt” Henderson USA (Andrew Duggan) is waiting. When Jiggs asks where he is stationed, Mutt replies, you know already, I’m exec at EComCon, Site Y. Jiggs is totally in the dark but he gets more information out of Mutt. He finds out it is near El Paso and is commanded by Colonel John Broderick (John Larkin) who is in town to brief General Scott. Jiggs says Broderick is a bit of Nazi. Jiggs also finds out that they have 100 officers and 3600 enlisted men training for seizure and not protection.

Colonel Murdock comes in and warns Jiggs not to mention the alert. When Jiggs brings up the Preakness bet, Murdock becomes very angry saying it is the general’s personal business. After Murdock leaves Jiggs calls the operator and asks if there is a list for EComCon and there is not.

Later that night, Jiggs goes to a party. He is accosted by Girad who wants to know why the General was so high and mighty at the Senate hearing. Senator Prentice steps into the conversation and gives Jiggs some relief. But he gets drawn back in. Jiggs avoids answering questions about how he feels about the treaty. When Jiggs goes into the other room, he runs into the general’s former mistress Eleanor “Ellie” Holbrook (Ava Gardner). She makes an odd foreshadowing comment for Jiggs to make sure the General rests on the 7th day. She is talking loud and Jiggs takes her aside and calms her down and tells her that when she is sober she is great to have around. She then asks him to drive her home and he agrees. Before he gets out Senator Prentice tells him he works for the only man that can get us out of this trouble and he needs to stay “Alert” especially on Sunday.

Jiggs has to dump Ellie to go to Fort Myer to see the General. When he gets there he sees Senator Prentice going into the house.

Tuesday, May 13

When Jiggs comes into the office Col. Broderick is in with General Scott. When Broderick comes out he starts goading Jiggs about his liberal views. Jiggs handles it and goes to see the General. Jiggs and the General go over films from the last alert and the results are not good as everyone is moving too slow.

The General lies to Jiggs about what time he went to bed. He tells Jiggs to stay close so they can meet after the General’s meeting. The General also tells Jiggs not to mention the Preakness or the fact that Admiral Barnswell refused. Jiggs notices that the Navy was not at the meeting. He picks up a crumpled piece of paper from Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Hardesty and it reads “Airlift EComCon 40 K212s to Site Y before 0700 Sunday. Chi, New York, LA, Utah.”

Outside Jiggs is flagged down by the Ensign that told him about the Preakness. He is being transferred to Pearl Harbor which he sees as a reward. The ensign says all of the other military leaders came through with their Preakness bets.

Television host, and real sunshine patriot, Harold McPherson (Hugh Marlowe) introduces General Scott and everything goes like a political rally. Jiggs is shocked by what he sees on television. Although it hurts him, he calls the White House.

Jiggs lays out the slight bit of evidence he has before the president. The (nuclear football guy is always by the president). The President’s aide Girard is there as well. Jiggs says that EComCon might mean Emergency Communication Control. General Scott has asked the President to watch the alert without Press, Congress is in recess, and the VP is out of the country. Jiggs has to say that he thinks General Scott is planning a coup for Sunday, May, 18th. Girard does not believe it. When Jiggs leaves, they bring in Bill Condon from the Bureau of the Budget. The President assembles a team like you should do when you’re under attack, consisting of Art Corwin from Secret Service, Secretary of Treasury Chris Todd (George Macready), Senator Clark, and later Jiggs.

Seven Days in May (1964)

Seven Days in May (1964)

Wednesday, May 14

Todd doesn’t believe it because no one has authorized the funding. The President because his hide is on the line takes it a little more seriously. Art Corwin has to shadow the Joint Chiefs, Chris Todd will coordinate from the White House, Senator Clark is to go to El Paso to find the base. Girard is sent to Gibraltar to get information from Adm. Barnswell who it seems has refused to join the plot. Jiggs is sent to spy on General Scott.

Back at the Pentagon office, General Scott catches Jiggs looking up El Paso on the map. The General feels Jiggs out on his opinion of the treaty and what they should do. He then gives him 72 hours-leave and insists that he leave immediately.

Jiggs meets Senator Clark at Dulles Airport. Before Clark leaves, he asks Jiggs to go see Ellie and see if there is any information on General Scott. Jiggs is sick with himself having to do that dirty work. While getting in his car, Jiggs see Harold MacPherson getting into General Scott’s staff car. Jiggs and the Secret Service driver follow. In a dark alley by the Dobney Hotel, MacPherson goes to meet Senator Prentice. General Scott is there and almost catches Jiggs in the parking garage.

Thursday, May 15

The President says he will not participate in the alert on Sunday and will be going to his private retreat at Blue Lake for some fishing. Scott calls Broderick at Site Y in El Paso. Senator Clark is in a small café outside Site Y. There is a girl (Colette Jackson) hanging around the café. She wonders why there are no men coming from the base when planes are going in and out day and night. She says it is about 50-miles away.

Senator Clark follows the instructions until he finds a dirt road to turn onto. A helicopter zooms in and lands by his car. An armed guard comes out of the helicopter.

Girard makes it to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, that Barnswell uses for his flag ship. Girard brings up betting, horse racing, and finally the Preakness. Girard forces him to make a written statement about the plot.

Jiggs shows up at Ellie’s apartment unannounced. Ellie knows that Jiggs is not there to see her. Jiggs kisses her and she asks that he not complicate her life. He kisses her harder.

Girard leaves the ship and phones that he has the confession. Girard hides the note in a cigarette case that was given to him by the President. He then jumps a commercial jet out of Madrid.

Back at Ellie’s house Jiggs gets Ellie to talk about her feelings for the General. She mentioned that General Scott was a very careful man who never really cared about her. She tells him that he wrote her incriminating love letters. Jiggs picks up the letters while Ellie is out of the room. She walks in and catches him. She thinks Jiggs is doing this to help General Scott out. She is furious and says that Jiggs is always ready to clean the Generals privy before she slaps him.

Friday, May 16

The Secret Service shows a film to the President, Chris Todd, and Jiggs of the Colonels Murdock and Broderick reconing the Presidents home at Blue Lake. Todd is really taken by Ellie’s letters. But Jiggs is still sensitive. The President stops the argument and commends Jiggs for doing the distasteful work. He says he believes they are on top of it, just as the secretary brings in word the Girard is dead as the plane has crashed.

Senator Clark is being held at Site Y and calls Senator Prentice and is told that they were made aware of the base. Col. Broderick opens a fifth of booze and leaves it in the locked room with the Senator. Clark sees that Girard has been killed in a plane crash and pours the hooch down the drain.

A man from the US Embassy goes to the crash site to look for evidence. The smashed cigarette case is laying on the ground but it will take time to find it.

Back at Site Y, there are two fresh bottles on the night table. Col. Henderson comes in to see the Senator. Clark tells Henderson about Jiggs not knowing about EComCon and that no references were in the JCS orders. Clark says he is going to tell “the damndest story you ever heard.” Henderson decides to get the Senator off the base. But Henderson is betrayed by one of Rodrick’s goose-steepers and the pair are stopped on the flight line by a sergeant. Henderson is driving a super cool tracked dune buggy with a 50 caliber machine gun mounted on the top. Henderson beats the crap out of the sergeant and escapes.

 Saturday, May 17

Henderson and the senator make it back to Dulles airport in Washington just fine.  Senator Clark steps into a phone booth, that’s like an iPhone attached to the wall, and calls the White House.  When he turns around Henderson has vanished.

The President finds out the Col. Henderson is being held in the stockade at Fort Myer anonymously.

The President contacts Adm. Barnswell, but with the evidence presumably destroyed in the plane crash, Barnswell deny’s ever having signed a document.

Chris Todd wants the President to fire the conspirators. The President lashes out that he has no proof. Senator Clarks suggests that he use the letters Jiggs obtained. The President does not want to go to the bottom of the barrel even though he only has 24 hours left.

Scott is back at his command center rehearsing taking over communications when another conspirator, tells him that General Barney Rutkowski, has found out about the transports flying to unauthorized destinations. They suspect the Rutkowski will report directly to the President.

Rutkowski does report to the President and also lets him know that the next flight of transports has been changed from 7 am on Sunday to 11 pm on Saturday. The President orders all of the transports to be grounded.

The President orders General Scott to the White House. The two men meet without witness. The President confronts Scott with all of the evidence about EComCon. The President demands the resignation of Scott and all of the other leading traitors. The two men verbally spar to no avail. The President gives a lecture on using the Constitution and not usurping power. The President pulls out the letters from Ellie but decides not to use them. The President then demands the resignation of the officers or he will announce it at a press conference in the morning.

When Gen. Scott walks out he sees Jiggs and realizes he has been working for the President. The General walks out without a word. The President gives Jiggs the letters to take back to Ellie.

Sunday, May 18

Scott has decided to record a broadcast that will be aired at 9 pm Sunday night. The other generals are starting to waiver because the plan has fallen apart. Scott leaves for the studio so he can record his broadcast.

The President interrupts the Preakness Horse Race to deliver his press conference. Secretary of Treasury Todd comes out and stops the press conference. Someone from the embassy in Madrid has arrived with the confession written by Adm. Barnswell. The President orders copies sent to Gen. Scott and the other.

When Jiggs gives the letter to Gen. Scott, Scott calls him a nightcrawler and then demands to know if Jiggs knows who Judas was. Jiggs is ordered to answer and says Judas was “a man I worked for and admired until he disgraced the four stars on his uniform.”

The press conference resumes and the President announces his request for resignations. At the television studio, Senator Prentice and Mr. McPherson are panicked by the President’s announcement. Scott rudely dismisses the two.  McPherson won’t let him record his statement. Scott goes back to his HQ and thinks the others generals will stand by him. But before Scott can get back he sees that the three other generals have resigned. Scott gets in his staff car and asks to be taken home.

Jiggs shows up at Ellie’s house to give her back the letters. She asks if the letters were the bullets and Jiggs replies that they might have been. Jiggs asks if he can see Ellie in the future. She agrees.

The President says it is slander to say that the US can’t be strong without making war and that peace is the best course. The movie ends showing the Constitution.

World-Famous Short Summary – Boy has trouble asking a girl out

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. I am on just about all of the social media’s but Twitter is my main place. You can find the links in the show notes. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.

Beware the moors

Seven Days in May (1964)

The Caine Mutiny (1954) – 110

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

If you wanna do anything about it, I'll be outside. I'm a lot drunker than you are, so it'll be a fair fight.


Welcome to today’s show, The Caine Mutiny (1954), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is The Caine Mutiny (1954) starring among others, Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and José Ferrer. This great movie covers two of my favorite genres, war movies, and trial movies. What can be better than a military court martial movie? This film was directed by Edward Dmytryk and based on a Herman Wouk novel.

So, let’s get going with the actors, many of whom we have seen before.


Humphrey Bogart played the lead role of Lt. Cmdr. Philip Francis Queeg, a man who had served too hard and too long. The great Humphrey Bogart was covered in Episode 25 – Sahara (1943).

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Van Johnson played reserve officer Lt. Steve Maryk. Johnson was covered in Episode 50 – Battleground (1949).

Fred MacMurray played Lt. Tom Keefer, a man that would rather be writing books than serving in the Navy. MacMurray was covered in Episode 90 – Double Indemnity (1944).

Lee Marvin played Meatball, a battle-hardened sailor. Marvin was covered in Episode 66 – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962).

May Wynn played the role of May Wynn. Huh! She was the love interest of Ens. Keith. May was covered in Episode 37 – The Violent Men (1955).

Whit Bissell plays psychologist Lt. Comdr. Dickson M.D. Bissell was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Herbert Anderson was uncredited, played another of the ship’s officers, Ens. Rabbit. Anderson was covered in Episode 50 – Battleground (1949).

E.G. Marshall did a great job as Lt. Comdr. Challee, the prosecutor. Marshall was covered in Episode 68 – The Buccaneer (1958).

José Ferrer played Navy defense lawyer Lt. Barney Greenwald. Ferrer was born in 1912 in Puerto Rico. Being from a wealthy family, he attended a Swiss boarding school, the Institut Le Rosey. He graduated from Princeton University in 1933.

By 1935, Ferrer was acting on Broadway. Ferrer made his film debut in Joan of Arc (1948) as the Dauphin opposite a young Ingrid Bergman. Another great film role was in Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) for which Ferrer became the first Hispanic to win an Oscar. He played the role of short man Toulouse-Lautrec in the John Huston directed, Moulin Rouge (1952).

Other important roles for Ferrer include playing Rev. Davidson in Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) with Rita Hayworth, The Caine Mutiny (1954), as a sadistic Turkish commander in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Herod in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), and the double-crossing Professor Siletski in To Be or Not to Be (1983), and as Emperor Shaddam IV in Dune (1984). Ferrer had an active television career and also directed films. I would be remised if I didn’t mention two of his lesser known films, The Swarm (1978) and Dracula’s Dog (1977), of which I have only seen the first. Ferrer died in 1992 at the age of 80 from colon cancer.

Robert Francis was cast in the role of Ens. Willie Keith, the young man with a lot to learn about life. Francis was born in 1930 in California. Relatively athletic, he was spotted on a Santa Monica beach by a talent scout. Does this happen? In 1947, he graduated from Pasadena City College. He started taking acting lessons but had to stop for two years while he was in the Army. He continued to take acting lessons after he was discharged. The husband of his acting coach thought that the polite young man would work well with the head of the studio Harry Cohn. Cohn had been dealing with those rebels without a clue like Brando and Dean. After he was screen tested, he was offered a contract with the studio.

This cut into his passion for flying. He had befriended Howard Hughes and the two often when flying. Francis’ first role was in The Caine Mutiny (1954) alongside some of the greatest actors of a generation. As a rising young star he was quickly cast into They Road West (1954). This was followed by The Bamboo Prison (1954) a Korean War POW tale. His final movie was another great one. Directed by John Ford, The Long Gray Line (1955) is a tale of the US Military Academy at West Point.

After these four successes, Francis was loaned to MGM for the movie Tribute to a Bad Man (1956) with James Cagney. However, he never made it to the set. About a week before he was set to travel to the location on July 31, 1955. He and two others took off from Burbank. The engine stalled and all the occupants were killed. Francis was 25 years old.

Tom Tully played the first captain of the USS. Caine, Comdr. DeVriess. DeVriess ran a very loose ship. Tully was born in Colorado in 1908. After serving in the Navy, he got his first credited role in the submarine movie, Destination Tokyo (1943) and North Pursuit (1943). His early career is steeped with noir films like Lady in the Lake (1947) and westerns like Blood on the Moon (1948). His greatest film roles are considered to be The Caine Mutiny (1954), Love Me or Leave Me (1955), Coogan’s Bluff (1968), with Clint Eastwood, and Charlie Varrick (1973).

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Tully did a large amount of television work including a series “The Lineup” 1954-1959. In the early 1970s, on a USO tour of Vietnam, Tully contracted a parasite that eventually contributed to his death in 1982.

Claude Akins was cast in the role of Seaman Lugatch aka ‘Horrible’. Claude was born in 1926 in Georgia but raised in Indiana. He served during World War II in Burma and the Philippines. Following the war, he attended Northwestern and studied theater.

Claude was a big tough guy and was great at playing a big tough guy. His film career started out with a bang, with an uncredited role as one of the boxing sergeants in From Here to Eternity (1953). He started working in television around this time as well. Claude worked in noirish detective dramas in films like The Human Jungle (1954), Down Three Dark Streets (1954), Witness to Murder (1954), and Shield for Murder (1954). He was adept at playing military roles too with films like, From Here to Eternity (1953), The Raid (1954), The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Sea Chase (1955), The Sharkfighters (1956), The Proud and the Profane (1956), Battle Stations (1956), and Onionhead (1958). His westerns are too numerous to name. Other great roles include Rio Bravo (1959) with John Wayne, The Defiant Ones (1958), Merrill’s Marauders (1962), The Killers (1964), and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), where he played gorilla General Aldo. And that is go-rilla not gu-rilla. Thanks, Captain Ron.

However, I feel that one of his most powerful roles was as a righteous clergyman out to save his town from Darwinism, regardless of the cost, in Inherit the Wind (1960). Claude continued to work until his death in 1994.

Jerry Paris has a brief role as Ens. Barney Harding. Paris was born in San Francisco in 1925. Paris served in the Navy during World War II. Following his discharge, Paris received a degree from New York University and UCLA before attending the Actor’s Studio. His first film was in 1949 as an usher in My Foolish Heart (1949) and Battleground (1949) as a German Sergeant.

Paris got roles in better films such as Outrage (1950), Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), D.O.A. (1950), The Wild One (1953), The Caine Mutiny (1954), Marty (1955), The Naked and the Dead (1958) and The Great Impostor (1961) but he never got beyond the buddy to be the star.

By 1959, he had moved into more television work. He is probably best remembered as the neighbor on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” 1961-1966. During his work on this show, he began directing and worked on such hits as “Happy Days” and “The Odd Couple.” In total, he had 59 directing credits.

Jerry would work in film occasionally and his last role was uncredited as a Priest in a line-up in Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986). Sadly, he died that same year at the age of 60.

James Best played an uncredited Lt., JG Jorgensen. Best has been one of my favorite actors since the first time I saw him deliver the line in Shenandoah (1965) “We ain’t got a dog’s chance in hell.”

Best was born in Kentucky in 1926. Orphaned, he was adopted and raised in Indiana. Best finished high school and it wasn’t long until he joined the Army during World War II. Since he entered the war late, most of his time was spent as a military policeman in Germany following the surrender. Later he was transferred to the Special Services, never to be confused with Special Forces, where he learned to act.

Following his time in the Army, Best worked for stock companies until he was noticed by Universal and given a contract. He started out with westerns like Kansas Raiders (1950) and Winchester ’73 (1950) and war films like Target Unknown (1951), Flat Top (1952), and Francis Goes to West Point (1952).

Best had an important role in Shenandoah (1965) and was in some of the Burt Reynolds films like Gator (1976) and Hooper (1978).

Although Best worked a lot he never became a big star in films. He was more successful on television. He is best known for a stitch role on “The Dukes of Hazzard” 1979-1985 as Sheriff Roscoe Coltrane.

As he began to suffer from physical ailments, he became a painter and taught acting in California and Florida. He traveled making personal appearances until his death in 2015.


To get support for this movie from the Navy, they had, to begin with, a disclaimer that there has never been a mutiny on a US Navy vessel.

During World War II, Princeton graduate William Keith (Robert Francis) is graduating from his 90-day officer’s training. He meets his mother and uncle but doesn’t have to courage to bring his girlfriend May Wynn, who took her stage name from this part. He uses hand signals to tell her that he will see her at 10 pm as he is drug away by his mother. Just for note, Wynn is two years older than Francis, but she appears to be much older than her co-star.

That night Willie makes it to the club where May is a singer. If a girl tells you she is a singer, she is a stripper, if she tells you she is a stripper, she is a hooker, if she tells you she is a hooker, runaway. Anyway, May is upset with Willie’s actions. He tells her that he is shipping out. Willie tells her that he loves her, and he wants to introduce her to his mother. When Willie asks for sex, May leaves upset.

Willie is sent to San Francisco for transport to Pearl Harbor for destroyer duty. His mother sees him to the dock. When he gets to his ship, the USS Caine, he is very disappointed because it is poor repair from battle wear and the men are sloppy and unkept.

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Willie meets his fellow officers, Lt. Keefer (Fred MacMurray) a super sarcastic officer that is more interested in writing books than winning the war, Lt. Maryk (Van Johnson) who is a straight talking average intelligence executive officer. Willie is taken to meet the Captain DeVriess (Tom Tully). The shirtless captain asks Willie if he expected better than a minesweeper. Willie admits he did and the captain says that he hopes he is good enough for the Caine.

Willie meets another officer Ens. Barney Harding (Jerry Paris) and the two are given a tour of the ship by the smirking and wise-cracking Keefer. He makes them climb the mast of the ship as the last part of their tour.

In the officer’s mess, Captain DeVriess starts needling Willie. Willie’s family has pulled strings and he has orders to leave the ship and work on the admiral’s staff. Willie yields to peer pressure and refuses the transfer.

The Caine heads to sea in the Pacific and Willie begins learning his job. They drill for the mine sweeping that the ship is never asked to do. One of the tow fish breaks a line and Maryk swims out to it with a tow line. At the same time, Willie gets an action dispatch but in the excitement, he puts it in his pocket and forgets about it. The captain chews out Maryk, and Willie doesn’t seem to understand the relationship between the two.

After that, Willie is trying to get the men to straighten out and he rides Meatball (Lee Marvin) and Lugatch aka ‘Horrible’ (Claude Akins). He gets a letter from May and is then called into the captain’s quarters. He is in trouble for not turning in the action dispatch. The dispatch says the captain is being relieved and they are getting a new captain, Lt. Commander Phillip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart).

The men give Captain DeVriess a going away present. Again, Willie doesn’t understand why they like the Captain so much. Captain Queeg calls an officer’s meeting. He tells him about his duty in the Atlantic and that he plans to run the ship by the book. When Queeg sees a sailor with his shirt tails out. He takes out a pair of ball bearings and begins fiddling with them. Queeg assigns Willie as the moral officer and to be in charge of enforcing regulations.

They are ordered to sea to tow targets for gunnery practice. During the firing, Willie is called to the bridge because Queeg has found a man with his shirt tail out. Queeg orders the ship to turn right and continues to chew the men out. The ship crosses over the tow line and cuts the target loose. Queeg won’t take responsibility for the accident. He blames a defective tow line.

The Caine gets orders to go back to San Francisco and Keefer thinks it is to punish the captain. May is waiting for Willie when he gets off the ship, but Willie is surprised by his mother. He introduces May to his mother as one of his friends. Willie and May head to Yosemite for the weekend. It kind of drags the movie but there is a nice scene of the fire fall. Apparently, they use to build a big fire on top of Glacier Point and then someone would yell “Let the fire fall” and they would push it over the edge and make a fire waterfall. The National Park Service ended this practice in 1968.

Apparently, after a fun night, May is on top of the world and Willie asks her to marry him. She turns him down say his mother won’t approve.

Queeg avoids getting into trouble about the tow line and the ship is sent back to sea to support the invasion of one of Pacific islands. Their job is to escort the landing crafts to 1000 yards from the beach. They throw in some actual footage that may be from Iwo Jima.

Queeg puts Willie in command of the ship even though he is inexperienced. Maryk takes over as the Captain waits in the wings. Lt. JG Jorgensen (James Best) is calling out the distance to the beach. When Maryk slows the ship to let the landing crafts catch-up Queeg panics. He says they are within 1000 yards and orders yellow die markers thrown off the back. This leaves the landing crafts unprotected as the Caine steams away at full speed.

The officers make up funny songs about yellow stain blues and start calling Queeg old yellow stain. Finally, Maryk comes by and orders them to stop mocking the captain. He also tells them that the captain wants another meeting. Queeg is humble as he plays with his ball bearings. He talks about his wife, kid, and dog. Much like Nixon’s Checkers speech. Queeg asks the officers to support him like a family. Maryk says they should have backed him up. Keefer and Willie don’t want to support him. Keefer starts saying the captain is mentally unbalanced. Maryk says there will be no more talk about mental illness. However, Keefer has planted the seed and Maryk begins recording information about the captain and reading about mental illness.

In July 1944, the ship gets a gallon of strawberries. At 1 AM all of the officers are called to the ward room to be part of a strawberry investigation. He has the mess staff (James Edwards) fill a gallon bucket with sand. As each officer tells how many he had, a scoop is ladled out. Queeg is convinced that someone is stealing food on the ship and has a key to the storage locker. The captain estimates a quart is missing. He places Maryk in charge but the board of review cannot find where the missing quart of strawberries has gone. In the morning, Queeg tells a story of his past glory when he caught a thief on board a ship when he was an ensign. He has the officers turn the ship upside down in a quest to find a key that doesn’t exist.

Keefer starts bringing up the mental illness to Maryk again. He even brings up article 184 where a subordinate commander may relieve his superior. Ens. Harding gets emergency leave because his wife is sick. But before he goes he tells the other officers that he saw the mess boys eat the strawberries. He says he told the captain, who then called him a liar and threatened to hold up his orders. This is the final straw and now Maryk wants to go see the Admiral of the Fleet along with Keefer and Willie. When they get to the flagship, Keefer backs out saying that this is the real Navy and they will not understand the Caine. All three go back without talking to the admiral.

As the three are leaving the flagship, the fleet gets notice of a typhoon. The order is for the fleet to sail through the storm at a specific heading. The storm is based on a real typhoon, Typhoon Cobra. Because of bad information, the entire fleet sailed directly into the storm resulting in almost 800 US deaths. Queeg does not want to take on ballast or increase speed, and he gets mad when he finds out that the depth charges have been put on safe. Queeg is slow to make commands and Maryk keeps making the correct orders. When one of the smoke stakes falls over, Queeg freaks. Maryk begins giving commands to the ship’s helmsman. When the captain and Maryk conflict, Maryk relieves him under article 184. Willie backs up Maryk. Keefer stands silent.

The ship makes it through the storm and Maryk and Willie are sent to San Francisco for trial. One bright spot in Willie’s life is that he hears from May. He pledges his undying love and she tells him it is over and done.

Maryk, Keefer, and Willie are in a conference room and Navy defense lawyer Lt. Barney Greenwald (José Ferrer) comes to interview them to see if they are worth defending. Greenwald has a broken right arm from an airplane crash. Right away, Greenwald takes a dislike to Keefer who is not on trial. Greenwald gets right to the point with Keefer and says he is just as guilty as Maryk and Willie. So Keefer leaves. Greenwald tells them that most lawyers don’t want to defend them and Maryk is either a fool or a mutineer.

Greenwald takes the case and the court-martial begins. Maryk’s trial goes first. The prosecutor is Lt. Comdr. Challee (E.G. Marshall). The first witness is Willie. They crush Willie on the stand by comparing his lack of experience as compared to the captain. The defense asks about the name old yellow stain. The board takes exception to calling the captain a coward.

Next, they bring in the helmsman. He doesn’t help either side. They then bring in Meatball. The prosecution makes Meatball look like a complainer, but Greenwald shows how much battle time he has had.

They bring in Keefer and he acts like he was not a part of it and throws it all at the feet of Maryk. He even goes as far as saying he is not an expert on mental illness. Keefer made it seem like it was Maryk’s idea to keep the book on the captain and go see the admiral. Greenwald doesn’t cross-examine.

They then bring in Naval doctor Dickson (Whit Bissell). He testifies that Queeg is sane. However, Greenwald breaks him down and forces him to admit that Queeg has a paranoia personality.

Maryk takes the stand in his defense. Challee gets Maryk to admit he is of average intelligence. He breaks him down on his lack of knowledge about mental illness. Maryk admits that he may be guilty.

Queeg is called in to testify and he is cool as a cucumber. Queeg states that he has bad officers and they attacked him. Greenwald asks about the cut tow line and the beach attack. Greenwald asks if Queeg abandoned the landing crafts during the attack. On objection, the board says that there is nothing worse than accusing an officer of cowardice. In a masterful statement, Greenwald says that no man that rises to the command of a ship can be a coward. He also shows glowing fitness reports that Queeg has written about Maryk.

Finally, Greenwald brings up the strawberries and the search for the key. Greenwald brings up that Ensign Harding told him that the mess boys ate the strawberries. He says Harding can be flown in. Queeg pulls out the iron balls and starts fidgeting with them. He begins to become agitated and starts making rapid fire statements about his innocence. Queeg regains his composure but keeps playing with the iron balls. The prosecutor and the board know Maryk was right in relieving Queeg. Maryk and Willie are found not guilty.

The officers of the Caine have a party to celebrate the acquittals. Willie is on the phone making up with May. She agrees to come marry him. Keefer shows up and Maryk says he didn’t think he would have the guts to come around after he betrayed him at the court martial.

Greenwald comes in and he is very drunk. He says he defended Maryk because the wrong man was on trial and he had to torpedo Queeg to save Maryk and he fills sick about it. Greenwald blames the officers because when Queeg asked for their help after the yellow stain incident and they refused to help.

Finally, he turns to Keefer and calls him the author of the Caine mutiny. He lets the other officers know that Keefer betrayed Maryk. Finally, Greenwald splashes a drink in Keefer’s face and delivers the great line – “If you want to do anything about I’ll be outside. I’m a lot drunker than you so it will be a fair fight.”  The officers leave Keefer with his wet face alone.

May, Willie, and his mother arrive at the dock where Willie’s new ship is waiting. He finally can stand up to his mother and choose his own wife. When the new captain comes by it is Captain DeVriess. Willie goes to the bridge and the captain orders the now mature Keith to take the ship out. The movie ends as Willie issues sailing commands and May waits on the dock and the ship sails under the Golden Gate Bridge.


Van Johnson had a bad car crash while filming A Guy Named Joe (1943). Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne fought to keep the injured Johnson in the film until he recovered. This accident caused several large scars on his forehead. Most of the time, he covered these scars with make-up when filming. But for this film, he let the scar be shown to enhance his character.

In the close-ups of Humphrey Bogart in the courtroom, two scars can clearly be seen on his right upper lip. These scars came from World War I when a prisoner he was escorting hit him with his handcuffs. This gave Bogart the tight-lipped speaking style that he made famous.

World-Famous Short Summary – IT WAS the strawberries

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Beware the moors

110 The Caine Mutiny (1954)

The Hallelujah Trail (1965) – 109

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

I don't care how dirty you are, I will not have you ladies bathing in nude!


Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is The Hallelujah Trail (1965). This movie is a western comedy that skewers everyone, as competing groups try to intercept a wagon train filled with whiskey. This movie has a surprising cast of big stars led by Burt Lancaster and Lee Remick.


Burt Lancaster played the lead role of Col. Thaddeus Gearhart. The great Burt Lancaster was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Pamela Tiffin played Louise Gearhart, daughter of the Colonel and follower of the temperance movement. Tiffin was covered in One, Two, Three (1961).

Bing Russell played Horner, one of the miners. Russell was covered in Episode 12 – Billy the Kidd Versus Dracula (1966).

Dub Taylor played the head of the Denver miners Clayton Howell Taylor was first covered in Episode 15 – The Undefeated (1969).

Whit Bissell plays newspaper man Hobbs who sets the events in motion. Bissell was covered in Episode 30 – Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Brian Keith played the role of Frank Wallingham, businessman, and tax paying Republican. Keith was covered in Episode 37 – The Violent Men (1955).

John Anderson played the role of Sgt. Buell. Anderson was born in 1922 in Illinois. He was primarily a television actor and left an incredible 242 credits at the end of his career. Anderson served in the Coast Guard during World War II. His career included stage work and television mini-series such as “North and South” 1985. His credited movie career began as the car salesman in Psycho (1960). Other films include Ride the High Country (1962), Day of the Evil Gun (1968), Solider Blue (1970), The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977), where he reprised an uncredited Lincoln role from The Fortune Cookie (1966), and Smokey and the Bandit (1980). Anderson died in 1992 at the age of 69.

Lee Remick played hot-blooded temperance leader Cora Templeton Massingale. Lee Remick was born in Massachusetts in 1935, but I would have bet real money she was a southern bell. At Barnard College, Lee studied dance. She also began working on stage and television. In her first film role, she played a sexy baton twirler in A Face in the Crowd (1957). This was followed by another belle role in The Long, Hot Summer (1958). This was followed by Anatomy of a Murder (1959) where Lee played a hussy whose husband is on trial for murdering a man that allegedly raped her.

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

Lee was in several other movies, but for playing an alcoholic in Days of Wine and Roses (1962) she was nominated for an Oscar. She was great in The Hallelujah Trail (1965) standing up to the Colonel played by Burt Lancaster. She had a role in Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), in the demonic tale The Omen (1976), and the Cold-War thriller Telefon (1977). She remained active in film and television well into the 1980s. Sadly, this great actress died in 1991 at the young age of 55.

Jim Hutton played young Capt. Paul Slater. I briefly talked about Hutton in Episode 11 – The Green Berets (1968) but he deserves a little more attention. Jim Hutton was born in upstate New York in 1934. He was a little wild and said to have attended 5 or 6 different schools. He eventually got a journalism scholarship to Syracuse University but quickly became interested in acting which resulted in him leaving prior to graduation. He also flunked out of Niagara College but did manage to perform in summer stock programs.

He spent about a year living in Greenwich Village try to get stage work to no avail. On the verge of starvation, he joined the US Army. He was assigned to special services, never to be confused with Special Forces. In Berlin, he founded the American Community Theater and starred in most of its productions. A director saw him on the stage in “The Caine Mutiny” 1954 and offered him a movie role. Hutton shot A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958) while on leave for 22 days.

Universal offered him a contract but Hutton still had a year and a half on his enlistment. By the time, he made it to Hollywood, the offer was gone. Eventually, he would sign with MGM. Hutton had some very small roles in 1959 and 1960 until he knocked it out of the park as the zany TV Thompson in Where the Boys Are (1960). In this movie, he was paired with the lovely Paula Prentice and the pair made a great, very tall, couple.

Hutton and Prentiss were paired three more times but they never found the magic again. The movies were The Honeymoon Machine (1961), Bachelor in Paradise (1961), and The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962). Following these flops, Hutton tried to get better roles and this resulted in him being away from film for 15 months. Finally, Hutton appeared in Looking for Love (1964), with Connie Francis. Francis was also in Where the Boys Are (1960).

Free from his contract at MGM, Hutton played a young Lt. in the Sam Peckinpah-directed mess known as Major Dundee (1965). Before you start, I didn’t say it wasn’t fun to watch, just a mess. This was followed by The Hallelujah Trail (1965) where Hutton played a young Lt. opposite his commander played wonderfully by Burt Lancaster. He had a very small, but funny, uncredited role The Trouble with Angels (1966). That same year, he was in the laugh a minute, Walk Don’t Run (1966) with Cary Grant.

Hutton was also in a farcical heist film, Who’s Minding the Mint? (1967), Hutton teamed up with John Wayne for a couple of real stinkers, Hellfighters (1968) and The Green Berets (1968) where he played a young Sergeant. Again, I didn’t say that they weren’t fun to watch. It seems like these two Duke movies ended Hutton’s film career. He switched to television and did well until he hit it big again with the detective series “Ellery Queen” 1975-1976. He also started working in theater and had a reunion with his son from his second marriage, actor Tim Hutton. Sadly, Jim Hutton died of liver cancer in 1979 at the age of 45.

Donald Pleasence played the booze inspired seer ‘Oracle’ Jones. Pleasence was born in 1919 in England. He went to work in the rail business but was accepted as an assistant stage manager on the Isle of Jersey in 1939.

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

World War II interrupted his plans and he joined the RAF. He was shot down over France and suffered in a German prisoner of war camp. Following the war, Pleasence went to London and began in the theater.

Pleasence had his first credited film role in The Beachcomber (1954) but it would be almost a decade before his talents were fully recognized. To American audiences, the movie that would get him this attention was the star-studded POW escape film The Great Escape (1963). Pleasence plays a forager that slowly goes blind as the escape draws nearer. Some of his movie highlights include a bloody-thirsty preacher in Will Penny (1967), the cat-stroking evil genius in You Only Live Twice (1967), which was the model for Dr. Evil, an alcoholic in an Australian drama Wake in Fright (1971), Lord Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972), Nazi Heinrich Himmler, in The Eagle Has Landed (1976), a sleuthing psychiatrist in Halloween (1978) and most of the sequels, and the president in Escape from New York (1981). Pleasence died in 1995 at the age of 75.

Martin Landau played Chief Walks-Stooped-Over. Landau was born in 1928, in Brooklyn, New York. At 17, he became a cartoonist for the New York Daily News. By 1951, he was doing stage work, way off-Broadway. In 1955, Landau and Steve McQueen were the only students admitted to Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio.

Soon Landau was working mostly on stage and in television. His first movie role was in Pork Chop Hill (1959), starting Gregory Peck. That same year, Landau hit it big playing a sadistic killer in North by Northwest (1959), with Cary Grant. He had another good performance in Cleopatra (1963). However, Landau was primary a television actor and did very well there.

Producer Gene Roddenberry wanted Landau to play Mr. Spock on “Star Trek” 1966-1969 but Landau was already committed to his most famous television show, “Mission: Impossible” 1966-1973. However, Landau left the show in 1969 over a contract dispute and was replaced by Leonard Nimoy, the man that got the role of Mr. Spock.

Landau continued to work in films and television but it seemed his best days were gone. He came back with a vengeance though in the Francis Ford Coppola directed Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). Landau received an Oscar nomination for both of these films.

However, he had one more great performance to give. He played Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton directed Ed Wood (1994) and he was amazing. At the age of 89, Landau is still working.


The movie begins in the Rocky Mountains with the narrator (John Dehner) describing what is happing out west in late 1867 and tells the reason behind the story. The Civil War has ended and hardened US cavalry patrols the west. On the reservation, the Indians are being issued war surplus rifles. There were signs that it was going to the be a harsh winter. Miners are shown walking across the street in Denver and it is said by the narrator that their actions led to the Battle of Whiskey Hills and Disaster at Quicksand Bottoms.

At the miners meeting, held in the saloon, Clayton Howell (Dub Taylor) tells the men that there are only 10-days of whiskey left in the city. Clayton says they need a plan. One of the miners suggests they talk to ‘Oracle’ Jones (Donald Pleasence). A sunburned Oracle is playing solitary in the back of the saloon. When they give him whiskey, he says it’s going to be a long winter. The more he drinks the clearer his visions of the future become. He says they should combine all of the whiskey orders into one and get a guarantee from the sellers. He sees 40 wagons coming with the whiskey.

Back in Julesburg, the whiskey contractor, Frank Wallingham (Brian Keith), storms into the newspaper office and demands to know from Editor Hobbes (Whit Bissell) why he printed a story about the whiskey. Hobbes says it is news. Then Wallingham asks what if the Indians get word of the shipment. Hobbes says Indians don’t read newspapers. Wallingham then asks about revenuers to which Hobbes accuses him of not paying his federal taxes. Wallingham says he is an honest businessman and a good Republican. Wallingham says he is going to accompany the wagons himself.

Wallingham says he will be asking for an Army escort. When he leaves, Hobbes sends a telegram to temperance marcher Cora Templeton Massingale (Lee Remick), who, as luck would have it is currently at Fort Russell.

They show a montage of Native American messaging from smoke signals, to hides, to tied knots. In 48 hours, ever Plains tribe was aware of the shipment. Sioux Chief Five Barrels (Robert J. Wilke) and his sub-chief Chief Walks-Stooped-Over (Martin Landau) meet with the chief of the Crow to decide who will recon the wagons. Finally, Chief Five Barrels clubs the Crow chief over the head to end negotiations.

Meanwhile, back at Fort Russell, Cora has organized a temperance meeting. The commander Col. Thaddeus Gearhart (Burt Lancaster) is out on patrol and he has left Capt. Paul Slater (Jim Hutton) in charge. Slater is dating Col Gearhart’s daughter, Louise (Pamela Tiffin). The ladies begin marching and singing and are escorted by the troops and the regimental band.

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

The Hallelujah Trail (1965)

When Col Gearhart and his troops ride into hearing distance, Sgt. Buell (John Anderson) thinks it is Indian war cries. They hear bugles and charge towards the fort. The men in the fort are so excited by the singing they begin firing the cannons.

Gearhart and company ride in ready to fight. The drawn guns’ kind of put a dampener on the singing. Gearhart arrests the band and orders the cannon firers to report to his office in the morning. When he finds out that Slater allowed the rally to take place he orders the captain to his quarters. He is shocked to find Slater making out with his daughter by the fire. Louise says she was making out with Slater so he wouldn’t stop the rally. Louise says she will stand with Cora and storms out.

The Col. is okay with Slater dating his daughter and gives him the order to escort Wallingham’s wagons saying he is a taxpayer and a good Republican. Gearhart settles down to take a bath, smoke a cigar, and drink whiskey. As soon as he gets comfortable Cora comes in and demands that the Col. not send the military escort for the whiskey wagon train. He says he has to because Wallingham is a taxpayer and a good Republican. Cora says she will be forced to take action.

The next morning Slater and his troops head out to intercept the wagon train. The wagon train was moving along the north of the South Platt River. The last 10 wagons were driven by Irish teamsters. Their leader was Kevin O’Flaherty (Tom Stern) and he was more concerned with striking for better working conditions than moving the wagons. Chief Five Barrels is leading his band in search of the wagons. It is at this time that the movie mentions Chief Walks-Stooped-Over is sometimes called Sky Eyes because of his blue eyes. Chief Scar in The Searchers (1956) was cast as blue-eyed German actor Henry Brandon.

The Col.’s daughter badgers him into letting Cora have one more temperance meeting in the mess hall. Cora announces in the meeting that she is heading to Denver to meet the wagons of whiskey. Louise and the other ladies decide to all go to Denver. Although Sgt. Buell has doubled the guard, the women break out and start marching. The cannons start firing again.

In the morning, the Col. has a bad hangover. His daughter brings him coffee and Cora comes in and starts caring for him. She starts massaging his neck and soon has control. So, Cora gets the wagons she needs and a large military escort that includes the Col. There are disgruntled husbands waiting at the gate because their wives are going along.

In Denver, the miners have another meeting. They take their last bottle of whiskey to Oracle who is playing solitary in the back of the saloon. The more he drinks, the better his vision. He sees Indians and men on the march. Someone says cavalry to which he replies this ain’t no time for children. The thought of no whiskey for the winter sends the Denver miner’s militia out looking for the wagon train.  So, we have the miners, two troops of cavalry, the temperance ladies, and the Indians all converging on the wagon train.

When a wheel falls off O’Flaherty’s wagon, Wallingham asks what his excuse is this time “you ignorant immigrant lump.” O’Flaherty issues a set of labor demands and implies he will strike. At this time, Captain Slater and his troop arrive to escort the wagon train. Wallingham asks about Indians and seems more scared when he hears the name, Cora Templeton.

One night the ladies from the temperance movement start taking baths and all of the soldier escorts climb trees to watch. Gearhart bust in where Cora is taking a bath just like she did to him earlier. Cora tells the Col. that the temperance women are going to intercept the whiskey wagon train before it gets to Denver. He says he will not escort her on the crazy scheme to stop the wagons.

Gearhart comes up with a detached contact plan where they will shadow the temperance women from a distance without directly traveling with them.

The Indians find the wagon and make a plan to attack when the Sun is two hands high over Iron Mountain. They divide into three groups.  Naturally, a giant sandstorm hits in the morning before all of the groups converged.

Oracle can’t see without whiskey, the Indians can’t figure out what time to attack, and Wallingham thinks he hears temperance singing. All of the groups are passing each other in the storm but never making contact. The miners, the whiskey wagons, and the Irish separately all forms circles. Shooting starts and bullets are flying in all directions. Slater has his men firing in two directions protecting both rears simultaneously.

They show the positions of each group at the Battle of Whiskey Hills but it is nonsense because you can’t tell where anyone is located. When the storm ends, no one has been shot. Gearhart decides to hold a conference. All parties come including the Indians. Wallingham says he is a taxpayer and a good Republican. Clayton Howell wants to take the cargo to Denver. Oracle says he is there as a guide. O’Flaherty tries to turn it into a labor negotiation. A problem comes up if the Irish don’t drive. If the miners drive, they are such bad barflies that they will need a soldier guard and then the soldiers will need to be guarded as well. Cora says she wants the whiskey dumped. Chief Walks-Stooped-Over says they were peacefully hunting buffalo and they want presents. Gearhart thinks they want to give him a present and he says no thanks and sends them on their way. Five Barrels wants 20 wagons of whiskey. Gearhart shakes their hands and the Indians think they have a deal.

The combined group heads for Denver with the Indians following. The combined group makes camp for the night and the Col. finds the men preparing a bath for him compliments of Cora. The Col., the Sgt., and Oracle go to the Indians and find out they are waiting for their presents, 20 wagons of crazy water.

Oracle breaks into a whiskey wagon and has another vision. Oracle tells Wallingham to head his wagon towards Quicksand Bottoms. They camp there that night with the Indians still following and camping nearby. O’Flaherty goes on strike and takes 10 wagons and makes their own circle. The temperance ladies have joined the strike while Wallingham and the miners are heading to take the booze back. The cavalry tries to stand between the two groups.

That night the temperance ladies go to the Indian camp and have a nice sing-along. The Indian’s all sign temperance paper. The band sneaks in and joins the singing. Cora goes back to the wagon to hand out axes and hammers to the other ladies. In the middle of the meeting, the Indians capture the women and disarmed Slater’s men. The Indians demand 20 wagons of whiskey.

Gearhart declares martial law. It is against the law to give Indians whiskey. Cora says she has a woman in each wagon ready to destroy the whiskey. Gearhart agrees to the 20 wagons for the women. Oracle goes into the swamp to do something. Gearhart goes back to his tent for a bath. Cora comes in and feels bad that she has ruined Gearhart career. Cora begins to cry before having a few drinks of whiskey. The two are about to kiss when Slater comes in with Chief Walks-Stooped-Over and says they have agreed to 10 wagons for the women, the number controlled by O’Flaherty and the Irish. Cora gives the Col. a kiss before she drunkenly walks back to her tent.

Oracle comes out of the swamp and tells Wallingham he has marked a path through the swamps with stakes and tied on strips of his underwear. The plan is to take the 30 wagons through the swamp and leave the women, the cavalry, the Irish, and the Indians behind. Cora finds out about the stakes and has some of her ladies move the stakes.

Everyone meets for the wagon exchange at dawn. O’Flaherty tells Cora that the 10 wagons are filled with champagne that will explode if hot and shaken.

Cora decides to stick a hatpin in the butt of each horse on the team. As each team comes forward, a horse gets stuck. The champagne starts exploding. The other teams get so excited that they take off running. Trying to catch the wagons, the Indians let the other women go free. The cavalry chases the wagons and thinks the champagne explosions are gun fire.

Wallingham tries to moves out into the swamp with 30 wagons but they charge towards the other wagons before they can be turned around. In the quicksand, the wagons quickly sink but the horses and men are rescued.

The cavalry starts firing at the Indians who form their remaining wagons in a circle while the cavalry rides around outside. The Indians decide to surrender and go home drunk with their few remaining bottles of champagne.

Wallingham is financially destroyed having lost his cargo. The temperance ladies are marched back to Fort Russell. The have a double wedding at the fort. Slater marries Louise and Gearhart marries Cora who quits the temperance movement.

Oracle and Wallingham build a little house by the quicksand and wait for barrels of whiskey to slowly surface. The miners return to Denver and live through one of the mildest winters in history.

World-Famous Short Summary – May-December couple find each other on a western trip

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Beware the moors

The Hallelujah Trail (1965) – 109