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Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland take a back seat for Raymond Massey in this one. The lanky Canadian plays John Brown of Kansas to the last glint of his mad eyes. Somehow you feel that this should be the one time when Errol Flynn can't shoot his way out of the flaming barn.
There is something of a modern dictator in the character of John Brown, the same assurance that everything he does is foreordained, that his opponents are fighting an irresistible force, that they are merely blind to the righteousness of his cause. The picture goes to some pains to show the suffering that John Brown's fixation inflicted upon innocent people, even before the Civil War started. The raids in Bloody Kansas are as terrifying as the fire raid on London, and the clash between the two ideologies as apparently irreconcilable as their modern counterpart. By ending just before the outbreak of the Civil War, the picture underlines skillfully the deep-seated hatred and fear that caused it. And the comparison with the terrible present further points up an already gripping film.
Errol Flynn plays Jeb Stuart, a Virginia cavalry captain, and besides Olivia de Havilland there are Alan Hale and Ronald Reagan to watch. Max Steiner has written a good score with lots of low rumbling notes that are really scary.
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