It's been great to go back and take a deep dive on some older films, especially those in the James Stewart library.
1965's SHENANDOAH was a family favorite to watch all together when we were growing up. TV repeats always found us gathered around the one 19" color set to watch in decidedly non-letterbox, low-definition enjoyment.
Stewart is terrific as Virginia farmer Charles Anderson, a widower with a passion for taking care of and keeping to his own.
As the Civil War grows nearer and nearer their farm, with the sound of cannons and gunfire encroaching on every day life, Charles finds it harder and harder to stay out of a conflict he doesn't see as his fight.
His family is large and terrific.
John Wayne's son Patrick Wayne has one of his best roles as Charles's son James. Glenn Corbett is David, Charles Robinson is Nathan and Philip Alford is the youngest son, simply called Boy throughout but playing a key role and dragging his father and brothers directly into the war.
Katherine Ross (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and Rosemary Forsyth are both great as the strong Anderson women.
A very young Doug McLure stars as Sam, a young office proposing to Jennie (Forsyth) under the watchful eyes of her brothers.
Look for George Kennedy as a compassionate Colonel and the reliable Tom Fix as the Anderson's long suffering and loyal doctor.
Stewart is terrific. He's a stubborn, prideful man who has earned his farm and his life on the back of hard work. He's got little use for the outside world and values loyalty and love of family above all else.
I was surprised how dark and sad SHENANDOAH could be in its journey. Like Mel Gibson's superb and emotional 2000 film set in the same era "The Patriot", not all of this family is coming back home and every loss kicks you in the chest.
Writer James Lee Barrett (The Greatest Story Ever Told, Bandolero!) provides a nice backbone for a strong cast that nicely conveys a lot of humor, warmth and family love against a tragic war.
There's a classic Western Director, Andrew V. McLaglen (McLintock!, Chisum, Cahill US Marshall) in the saddle. He manages to make the most of a small Universal budget and some great location photography.
If you can watch the closing moments and not get choked up, your heart might be made of stone. Stewart's acting in the final scene is authentic and powerful. The man made a lot of classics and some very good movies.
SHENANDOAH is one of them and gets an A.AN