Thursday, February 24, 2011

It kills bugs, too!

Coming up at 7:00 AM ET tomorrow morning on the Fox Movie Channel is the interesting historical movie The Raid. What's interesting about it is that it's based on a real event.

The movie starts in September 1864 at a POW camp for Confederate soldiers located in northern New York. Confederate Major Benton (Van Heflin) leads his fellow POWs in a breakout which is successful and which enables them to get to neutral Canada where they can meet up with some of their Confederate sympathizers who have a plan hatched. That plan is to cross the border and raid the nearest moderately-sized town, St. Albans, VT. There, they'll rob all the banks to get the money necessary to buy arms for the Confederates still fighting in the South.

To that end, Benton goes to St. Albans with the view of finding a suitable farm where the Confederates can congregate in preparation for the raid. Posing as a Canadian, he puts up at the hotel run by the widow Mrs. Bishop (Anne Bancroft), who has good reason to hate Confederates, and no reason to suspect that her new boarder is one himself. Likewise her son (Tommy Rettig), who begins to look up to the new father figure in his life.

Benton eventually gets a place outside of town and begins to bring in some of the Confederates who will take part in the raid, but it's not so simple. Some of the soldiers, notably Lt. Keating (Lee Marvin), are rather more vocal in their defense of the Confederacy. That just won't do, since this is an operation where subtlety is called for, lest the townsfolk figure out what's going on. Eventually, the day of the raid comes....

The Raid is good enough, but not particularly great. The parts of the story embellished for Hollywood's purposes are fairly pedestrian and predictable, but don't do anything to take away from the real-life story that's quite interesting in its own right. The cast is competent, although you get the feeling at times that they've all been doing these character types for years, particularly Marvin and his mean bastard routine. Still, there are much worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Unfortunately, The Raid isn't available on DVD.

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