Sunday, January 20, 2019

CONSENSUS #87 - They Died With Their Boots On (1941)

SYNOPSIS: "They Died With Their Boots On" is the story of George Custer (Flynn) and his wife Elizabeth (de Havilland). It covers their relationship from Custer's appearance at West Point to his death. The movie is part romance, part biopic, and part Western. The climax is the Battle of Little Big Horn.

BACK-STORY: They Died With Their Boots On is an old school war movie from 1941. It was directed by Raoul Walsh (“Objective Burma!”) and was the eighth and last screen pairing of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. It was a huge box office hit.

TRIVIA:  Wikipedia, imdb, TCM

1.  Three died during the filming. One fell from his horse and broke his neck.  A stuntman died of a heart attack.  Actor Jack Budlong was thrown from his horse as he rode alongside Errol Flynn and was impaled by his sword.
2.  Only sixteen Sioux were available as extras and were used for the closeups.  The rest of the more than 1,000 extras were Filipinos.
3.  Jim Thorpe was an extra and he got into a fight with Flynn during a break.  Thorpe knocked him down with one punch while Flynn was in uniform.
4.  Louis Zamperini of “Unbroken” fame, was also an extra.
5.  Flynn collapsed from exhaustion during the shoot.
6.  One of the most historically inaccurate war movies ever made.

Belle and Blade  =  N/A
Brassey’s              =  5.0
Video Hound       =  3.1
War Movies         =  N/A
Military History  =  #68
Channel 4             =  not on list
Film Site                =  yes
101 War Movies  =  no

OPINION:  “They Died” is more of a Western than a war movie.  It is a classic and was a big hit, but when you compare it to modern war movies like “Son of the Morning Star”, it is an antique.  The ludicrous historical inaccuracies make the movie hard for history buffs to watch.  And, given the power of movies in the 1940s, it created a misshapen portrait of Custer.  It is on a par with “Braveheart” in accuracy, but at least William Wallace was a legitimate hero.  I strongly disagree with it being in the top 100.

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