Shenandoah

Shenandoah

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Shenandoah Reviews

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Anthony L

Super Reviewer

April 1, 2014
A forgotten and almost unfashionable anti-war western. When I hear the far right, particularly the American far right, talk of the good ole days they often site Westerns as being one aspect of that better life of old. They seem to have forgotten the message that many of these films deliver. Shenandoah is anti-war, anti-religion but pro-family and pro-productiveness. It's a socialist western made just 10 years after the 'Red Scare' starring American golden boy James Stewart no less. I guess people were more concerned with the historical inaccuracies but it's nice to see an old film that goes against the grain and no one seems to have noticed.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

June 3, 2007
More a rugged outdoor family drama than a cowboys 'n' injuns shoot 'em up, it features a typically reliable performance by old warhorse James Stewart who plays the pragmatic patriarch of a Virginia farming family caught up in the civil war. It's episodic and a little cloyingly sentimental, but it has it's moments, particularly the cow stopping play during a battle and a memorable cameo from George Kennedy as a world weary union colonel.
May 30, 2009
Classic 1960's western with a strong underlying anti-war theme It was some of James Stewart''s best acting later in his career, but the plot is so sad and devastating.
flbeachboy
August 16, 2010
It tokk me sometime but I ended up enjoying this movie, love the story to it and James Stewart does an incredible job.
January 20, 2008
I picked this movie up because it came recommended and I've always liked ol' Jimmy Stewart.

I'm not sure what I was expecting of it, as I had forgotten anything and everything I'd read of it by the time I sat down to watch it. We start off learning of Charlie Anderson (Stewart), Virginian farmer and father of eight. Or is it seven, plus a daughter-in-law? Oh whatever, they all kind of blended together, honestly. The film is set in the middle of the Civil War, and Anderson is staunchly determined not to be involved. He does not feel the need of 'state' or duty to it, nor any other kind except to his family and his deceased wife. Her final wish was for him to raise their children as Christians, so he takes them into church every week inbetween their usual farmwork, often interrupting the service by arriving late and occasionally with familial noise or business on the part of the younger family members.

As is inevitable with a civil war, though, Anderson and his family (all sons but one daughter, whatever the total number was) are not able to keep out of its reach. It wanders in quietly and inanimately through a Confederate hat that washes down a stream to his youngest, "The Boy." He only questions the Boy wearing it at the dinner table, but says little of it otherwise. He argues with his eldest, James (Patrick Wayne, son of John) about his stance on the war itself, winning in at least authority if not philosophy. But soon the involvement is more immediate--a Confederate soldier marries his daughter, and a small group of Confederate soldiers come to request his sons join up. Then the Union comes to buy or take his horses, leading to a brawl between the Andersons and the soldiers, determined to hold their ground, even as cannonfire echoes from miles around their farm. Finally the Boy is captured thanks to his "Johnny Reb" cap, and Charlie takes the family out to find him.

I was a little confused by the movie. Not the plot, certainly (it's simplistic enough), but by what it was trying to do and accomplish. It bears the cringe-inducing fumbling and inarticulate dialogue of early Hollywood westerns that worried more about gunfights than characters, and the portrayal of the soldiers in the film is slightly confusing. Confederate soldiers are by and large polite and generally friendly, and all Union soldiers are snotty, arrogant and sarcastic. In the end the movie seems to be taking a stance against war, but this seems incongruous when it feels like it's taking sides. Certainly I don't mean to imply that it should have been the opposite, but this blanketing of attitude is the kind of poor writing I'm referring to. Many character actions are unbelievably ridiculous, too. Why on earth did the Boy keep the hat on after it got him into that trouble? Why did he so readily and stupidly follow the other Confederate prisoners? Why on earth did the entire family go out as a GROUP to find the missing son?

Dramatic events are just as clumsy as the dialogue, having no sense of pacing or emotion, often trying to focus on one or two characters with the rest paralyzed or milling around behind it all. Jimmy shines through it all, bringing a bitter, down-trodden pride to Charlie Anderson, showing him as a man who will stand by what he thinks is the right thing to do. Even when faced with loss, he barely contains his frustration, rage and sorrow--but I did say barely, and he does do it, and holds to his principles. He makes (seemingly) clear the movie's feelings about war, that sides are irrelevant and pain, death and loss are the only real inevitable results.

I was happy to note the presence of George Kennedy ("sidekick" to Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun series and a character actor who has appeared regularly in a slew of other films) and Strother Martin. Unfortunately Strother does not get to put much of his voice or character into his very minor role, and with a distinctive voice like his it almost seems a waste. I had to strain to hear that peculiar timbre his voice has, as I fought off an irritation at the scene it occurred in.

One of the more disappointing films I've gotten around to seeing these days.
July 8, 2007
Lame reason but I love watching a man with so many sons. Guess maybe I compare him to my man and our sons, though in competely different circumstances.
caesarstud84
June 2, 2007
This is a movie i grew up watching, yet still has all the greatness that i remember. It will be my faviorite for the rest of my life.
shawnp62
May 12, 2007
One of the best overall movies I've seen in my life; had drama, sadness, humor, romance, and history
snappytype
March 13, 2007
These days, this movie would be a "Christian" movie. This used to be the way movies were made. I love it.
madelineschulman
November 30, 2006
There is a musical based on this movie, which I saw first, and which predisposed me to like the movie. I remember it as well-acted and enjoyable, although having seen the stage version I knew that one traumatic scene was on the way and dreaded it.
May 3, 2006
I was in the frickin musical for this one for god's sake. So like it did justice but in between I was singing the songs. I wonder if there is a musical version of Shenandoah on dvd?
April 13, 2014
One of my all time favorites.
horse c.
February 22, 2013
A touching story from the Civil War
December 11, 2012
It is the family dynamics of this film that pull it above a mediocre Western. Stewart does an excellent job as usual.
May 29, 2012
"If we don't try, we don't do. And if we don't do, why are we here on this Earth?" I'll be brief with this one, not too much to say. Pretty good, no wow factor. It's basically the story of Treebeard haha. Jimmy Stewart was great, as per usual, but some of his supporting cast was bleh in terms of acting. And a couple plot points were a little too unrealistic for my taste. Other than that, I had no big qualms about it. It's not even two hours long. I found this to actually be a plus: too many times a war movie is made under the condition that it must be at least 2.5 hours. It's an enjoyable Civil War flick, since it barely shows the actual battles, and instead focuses on the characters and the events that surround the war.
Dave J
October 1, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010

(1965) Shenandoah
DRAMA/ WESTERN

James Stewart holding his family together with it's dilemmas of living in a remote home centered between the war of the North and South during the Civil War! Bases for another film called "The Patriot". although this film consists some very good dialogue, it would've been nice if this film had gotten a happier ending but it wouldn't really be a movie without the misgivings!

2.5 out of 4
Monsieur Rick
October 4, 2009
Pretty worn out plot of the family home being torn up by the Civil War, or the War Between the States, as it were. The cinematography is NOT epic, more like a TV series, so don't look for another Gone With the Wind.

Stewart is his incomparable self. The family of boys and one girl includes John Wayne's son, Patric Wayne, and George Kennedy.

While wanting to stay out of the conflict, Stewart does everything he can to stay out of it. But when his youngest son unfortunately finds a Confederate cap floating in a stream after a nearby clash of the troops.

The son is mistaken for a Confederate by a Union company and taken to points unknown. The father, Stewart, brings the entire family on horseback to find him, but is unsuccessful. The boy does come back to the family, but only after the home is attacked by criminals with loss of life.

Warned that this was a tearjerker from a book, I could hardly say that was the case. I can be sentimental at the drop of a hat, but somehow the movie was not done to support that, at least for me.

There is something in the quality of TV and a movie from Hollywood. As this seemed to me to be more of a TV movie, it didn't do much for me. It was worth watching and it might mean more to you. Don't let my cynicism stop you from watching on of Jimmy Stewart's last films.
rocknblues81
July 22, 2010
Shenandoah is an interesting film. A lot of the film is build on wholesome values that seem to doom the film to Disney territory early on. It's about a farmer (Played by Stewart)that encourages his sons not to interfere and pick sides in the Civil War. Naturally, his stance can only hold for so long as he is forced into action after his son taken by the Yankee forces and turned into a prisoner.

The whole family with the exception of one son and his wife is left behind as the family heads out to find the missing boy. But tragedy strikes when a pair of looters could by the ranch and take advantage of the only remaining couple. After the pursuit proves to be less than fruitful, the family returns home to discover that fate did not reward the families lack of action. Instead, farmer Charlie Anderson learns that you can't ever fully runaway from the tragedy of war.

And while the film clearly is a notch below most of Stewart's early work, the film is worth watching and Stewart delivers another solid performance highlighted by an emotional scene near the end in which he tries to make sense of it all by sharing his thoughts over the grave of his dead wife. It might not be the ending a lot of people would want, but Stewart makes it work with his earnest performance.
Zeppo1
September 20, 2009
*** (out of four)

James Stewart is a father who opposes slavery, but still tries to be neutral and not get involved in the War between the States. But, things catch up with him.

Well made, slightly bland film. But it does have heart and the great James Stewart.
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