Monday, November 4, 2019

"A Luminous Line In A Not So Great Movie"

I just heard it, and went,


That doesn’t happen that much in movies, so I shall briefly tell you about it.

The Undefeated (1969), starring John Wayne, is a hardly distinctive (mostly) post-Civil War western, starring John Wayne and Rock Hudson.  (There is a little Civil War in it at the beginning.)

Here’s the setup to that memorable – for me – snippet of shimmering dialogue.

After John Wayne-led Northerners defeat opposing Southern forces in a brutal encounter, Wayne is informed by messenger that the war had actually ended three days earlier, with Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox.

Apprized after the battle of Lee’s earlier surrender – making that recent carnage unnecessary – Wayne’s vanquished Confederate counterpart replies a penetrating “Yes, sir.”  When Wayne’s suspicions that his Confederate counterpart was fully aware that the war was over, he curiously inquires,

“Then why did you fight?”

To which the leader of the defeated Southerners replies,

“This is our land, sir.  And you’re on it.”

(Historical Note:  With the exception of Gettysburg, major Civil War battles were fought in the South.)

There are many ways of discussing the pervading elements of the Civil War.

But I have never heard that way expressed so simply and so genuinely.

“This is our land, sir.  And you’re on it.”

You don’t have to agree with it.

But there it was.

In a not-so-great movie.

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