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Soldier Blue

2 Ratings: 4.0
1970 film directed by Ralph Nelson.

The film was heavily edited upon it's release.      Based upon the Sand Creek Massacre.

Director: Ralph Nelson
Genre: Western, War, Drama
Release Date: August 12, 1970
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Soldier Blue

Soldier Blue - 1970/74

  • Jun 3, 2002
  • by
Rating:
+3
Pros: intentionally left blank

Cons: Strauss a little weak, story drags a bit in the middle

The Bottom Line: An important lesson in American history.

In the 70's there were three movies that impacted my life and I have never forgotten them. Until recently (Epinions time) I had never re-watched these movies, yet I have never forgotten them. In fact, I have been searching for this particular movie for years ....... story to follow on that ........

All three of the movies were based on death, each in a different but most violent way. These movies were Last House on the Left, Night of the Living Dead and Soldier Blue. Three quite different movies but two of them were based on true events (Soldier and Last House) and I sincerely believe that the way we tinker and futz around with genes, DNA, cloning, etc., that someday I will probably see Night, etc., come to pass as well.

Soldier boy, oh my little soldier boy
Based on the massacre of over 500 members of the Cheyenne tribe at Sand Creek, Colorado, November 29, 1864, by over 700 soldiers in the U. S. Cavalry, led by Colonel Iverson, which went down in history as one of the most hedonistic battles to be fought.

Iverson's group set out in retaliation of a small unit that was ambushed when crossing Cheyenne territory, carrying two items of precious cargo. The most important, to the soldiers, was their payload, a large strong box of gold. The second most important was Ms. Cresta Marybelle Lee (Candice Bergen), the fiancée of one of the soldiers. Ms. Lee, a tough talking (and spitting) Brooklyn born miss, had been captured two years prior by a Cheyenne chief and taken for his bride.

When the group was ambushed, Ms. Lee and Private Honus Grant (Peter Strauss) were the only survivors, so they set out to find their way back to the safety of the fort. Private Grant was a pleasant sort, homey you might say, and wished to say a few words over his fallen compatriots. He quoted The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson over the bodies.

Ms. Lee disputed his words, stating the U. S. Calvary had wrecked more havoc on the Indian nation than the Indians ever deemed possible. Private Grant remained true to his beliefs that there was nothing but honor in the U. S. Calvary. So began the battle between Ms. Lee and Grant.

Naturally, as things would be, their forced closeness evoked an even closer relationship, bordering on love. Circumstances would prevent this coming to fulfillment due many reasons. However, when Grant is wounded, Ms. Lee continues to the fort to beg Col. Iverson for two men to go back to get Private Grant who was stranded. Iverson refused, but did divulge that they were leaving to attack the Cheyenne village a few miles away.

This being Ms. Lee's home village, she hurries to their side to warn them. Spotted Wolf (Jorge Rivero), her Cheyenne husband, wishes nothing but peace. He breaks camp, going to the calvary with his white flag and bearing an American flag as well. Iverson evokes the order to attack, despite the obvious signs of peace.

What follows is the most unhumanistic and debased slaughter witnessed. Yes, I know about Custer, and various other battles fought. But this group of peaceful Indians were bearing the flag of surrender, prior to battle. After the Calvary had eliminated all the men from the tribe, they set out to rape, maim and murder the women and children. Iverson, the low life scum, scuttled back to his fort like some land crab with only a slight flesh wound, after personally shooting several small children in the head.

Private Grant, witnessing this horror, realizes that what Ms. Lee has been telling him is true. The U. S. Calvary was a gutless single minded group of cowards in this attack and Colonel Iverson did not have a set of nads and was such a low-life he could have walked under a snakes a$$ with a top hat on.

To be or not to be, that is the question
Candice Bergen was 24 years old, it was her 9th movie, the first being when she was 1 year old. Following Soldier Blue she starred in Carnal Knowledge and has continued on from there making over 40 movies, top rated TV shows, and various appearances on other TV shows.

She was the first female host on Saturday Night Live and the daughter to equally famous parents. Ms. Bergen was hauntingly beautiful in this movie, bearing a striking blonde resemblance to Katharine Ross, would played Elaine in The Graduate. In fact, Bergen auditioned for that role as well.

Her performance in Soldier Blue worked quite differently with her celestial appearance and bearing and her stevedore language. I believe this movie and Carnal Knowledge set the pace for the rest of her successful career.

Peter Strauss entered this production with only one other movie under his belt. This has not slowed the boy down, however, as he has went on to star in over 40 other movies as well as TV performances. I didn't get the same feel of acting ability from Strauss as I did Bergen, but he was not as seasoned as she, although they were only one year apart in age.

Other notable characters in the film were Donald Pleasance who played Issac Q. Cumber (his parents thought that was ‘cute') with the worse set of store bought teeth ever, the handsome Jorge Rivero as Spotted Wolf and John Anderson as the loathsome Colonel Iverson. Interestingly, one of the other Indians in the movie, one of the more hot headed ones, was played by a Jorge as well, Jorge Russek who played Running Fox, and Ralph Nelson, the director, elected a cameo spot as Agent Long, credited as 'Alf' Nelson.

The film starts and ends with a massacre, the middle is slow interspersed with a love story. Take it or leave it. Some scenery was gorgeous, some was stark. I would assume this portrays the area being filmed since I've never been there. The title song "Soldier Blue" was written and performed by Buffy Sainte-Marie, try to miss this part. Written by Theodore Olsen, based on his novel Arrow In The Sun, and John Gay.

"In 5,000 years of recorded civilization mankind has written his history in blood. Mankinds noblest achievements reveal a divine spark.

But there is a dark side to mans soul that has festered since Cain slew his Brother.

The climax of Soldier Blue showed specifically and graphically the horrors of battle.

As blood lust overcomes reason. brutal atrocities affect not only the warriors but the innocents as well ... the women and children.

The greatest horror of all is that is is true.

General Nelson A. Miles, Army Chief of Staff, declared the massacre at Sand Creek the foulest and most unjust crime in recorded history." ****

Ms. Lee to Private Grant, when holding the body of a baby after the massacre, sitting in a field of children's bodies. Ms. Lee had been held by the calvary and forced to watch them individually shoot each woman and child. - "Have any prayers now Soldier Blue? Any cute little poems to recite?"****

Private Grant was arrested and court martialed because he spoke out against Iverson during the attack.

And now, the rest of the story
I've tried for over 15 years off and on to obtain this movie through various methods. Through a fluke the other night, both SurgRn and I managed to locate the movie online, and we both ordered it at the same time. So now, after all this time, I have two copies. Any bids?

My copies are the American version, which have been greatly edited. I had previously viewed the uncut version - harsh, very harsh. I have never been so ashamed to be a human and even less proud of my heritage after viewing this movie. I felt the same way about Geronimo: An American Legend. Perhaps it was because for 18 years I was married to a Cherokee or perhaps it was because I had a heart.

Thanks
Susi

****Taken from the movie, not my own words.




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