Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day movies

No, not the dreadful effects movie that starred the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Tomorrow is July 4, the US Indepdendence Day holiday, and TCM is marking the occasion by showing some of the movies that have been made about the Revolutionary War. One that I don't think I've recommended before is The Scarlet Coat, airing tomorrow at 12:15 PM.

Cornel Wilde stars as John Boulton, a Major on the side of the revolutionaries during the American War of Independence. The Americans are disturbed by the fact they seem to have a traitor in their midst: somebody, under the pseudonym of "Gustavus" is getting important information about the Americans' plans to the British side. So he gets a bright idea: pretend to be a British spy himself, so that he can infiltrate the British and figure out who's spying on the Americans!

It turns out that the Americans have a Benedict Arnold in their midst. Literally, as the traitor is one Benedict Arnold. But he's not quite who the movie is about. Arnold had a co-conspirator, the major John Andre (Michael Wilding). Andre has no idea that Boulton is a double agent, and begins to trust him. But that doesn't mean Boulton is home free and sound. One of the civilian leaders of the spy ring is the prominent Dr. Odell (George Sanders), who is much more perceptive than Andre, and has a sneaking suspicion that Boulton isn't all he's cracked up to be. But will he get to the bottom of things before Boulton can?

Well, we know how history turns out, but that's about the only problem with The Scarlet Coat. It's a well made movie, with good acting and lovely color scenery of the lower Hudson Valley of New York state, where much of the action is set. There's a love triangle involving Anne Francis which isn't quite necessary to the plot, but she's just as lovely as the rest of the scenery. It's not as well known as many of the other Revolutionary War movies, probably because it doesn't quite have the star power of the others, but it's still quite entertaining.

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