Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Raid (1954)

The Raid (1954) stars Van Heflin and Anne Bancroft in a story of the American Civil War. The film, which pairs the two intelligent actors in an unlikely, largely unspoken romance is set against the bitterness of the war. The unlikeliness of their chemistry in real or cinematic life is muted, however, since this fact-based Civil War saga is quite effectively told in this 20th Century Fox film, which was directed by Hugo Fregonese, an Argentinian native who worked throughout the world during his peripatetic career as a journeyman filmmaker.

His middling career included some interesting misfires in just about every genre, such as the noirish One Way Street (1950), the once racy but quite a good, saucy adaptation of Boccaccio's Decameron Nights (1953) (condemned by the Legion of Decency, which was probably good for box office), Seven Thunders (1957), a compelling story of escaped British servicemen trapped in wartime Marseilles, and the last in the series of films begun by Fritz Lang in 1922, The Secret of Dr. Mabuse (1964), which owed more to James Bond than to the cinematic master, Herr Lang. Perhaps because of Fregonese's cosmopolitan background, The Raid is available on a Region 2 DVD in some countries, though it is not yet available in the United States. If an enterprising vendor could be found to promote this DVD, it might also be interesting to American Civil War buffs and those of us who enjoy obscure oddities of an historical nature.

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