June continues to bust out all over

by chuckofish

We have enjoyed a really nice June in our flyover state–relatively cool and lots of rain. This is certainly not always the case! So it is good to take a moment and think about how nice it is.

The grass looks great and has not started to burn up yet.

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The flowers are happy.

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And the tiger lilies are starting to pop!

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We can enjoy open toe espadrilles

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and more hours of daylight. Lately it has been cool enough to actually work in the yard after dinner.

And here’s a fun fact: The Horse Soldiers (1959) was released to movie theaters 55 years ago yesterday.

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This is one of my favorite John Ford movies. It’s the one where a Union Cavalry outfit sets out from northern Mississippi and rides several hundred miles behind confederate lines in April 1863 to destroy a rail/supply center. Based on a true story, the raid was as successful as it was daring, and remarkably bloodless. The Horse Soldiers was filmed on location in Natchitoches Parish Louisiana along the banks of Cane River Lake and in and around Natchez, Mississippi. The locations give it a real sense of place and authenticity that Civil War movies don’t always have. The plantation house, for instance, where Towers’ character lives, is a real antebellum house and not Tara.

William Holden plays a doctor who immediately comes into conflict with the commander of the mission (John Wayne). The officers are overheard discussing their secret plan by a clever southern belle (Constance Towers) who must then be taken along to assure her silence. Holden is a great foil for Wayne, who, in my opinion, gives one of his best performances. He has a couple of really memorable scenes, such as the one where he explains to Hannah Hunter why he hates doctors. Nobody could break whiskey glasses like John Wayne.

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It should also be noted that the Duke is very sexy in this movie and the sophisticated William Holden never has a chance with the leading lady.

The main female character is also a refreshingly good one. She has some depth–she is smart and spunky and well-played by Towers.

The Horse Soldiers also includes a large number of great Ford character actors–from Anna Lee to Hoot Gibson, Strother Martin, Denver Pyle, Ken Curtis, Hank Worden, and even the always bizarre O.Z. Whitehead–all playing clearly defined people.

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These characters are but one aspect that sets apart Ford’s films from the vast majority of run-of-the-mill movies made over the years. But this aspect is huge. All the minor characters have a line or two and all are memorable.

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You remember them all: the officers, including Major Gray, an actor quoting Tennyson (“Blow, bugle, blow”) and Colonel Secord, almost a senator (“This would look great on my record”), as well as the enlisted men (“You told us it was all right as long as we could see the top of her head.”), the deserters (“We’re confederate, but we ain’t hostile–honest”) to Lukey, Hannah’s devoted slave (“Contraband? That’s me, ain’t it?”). The Horse Soldiers also includes the leg-amputating scene with Bing Russell (Kurt’s father) which traumatized me as a child.

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Anyway, The Horse Soldiers is my Friday movie pick. Sure, it’s another reminder that they don’t make ’em like this anymore, but c’est la vie.