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At the onset of the Civil War, seven young Texans decide to join General Hood's Texas regiment in Richmond. During their long horseback voyage from Texas to Virginia, the seven young men will witness first-hand the Southern prejudice and snobbery. They also will witness the lynching of runaway black slaves. Filled with dreams of war glory, they will nevertheless push ahead toward their destination. Their trek eastward is eventful and fraught with dangers, as the Texans will occasionally get into trouble with the townsfolk from various towns. Although they do eventually join the Confederate forces, it will happen in Shiloh, Tennessee not in Richmond, Virginia as planned. After becoming soldiers, they realize that war is not what they expected or dreamed about. The army and the war are not at all compatible with the core human values of ordinary Texans. The battle of Shiloh is the epitaph of this story.Written by
"The Yellow Rose of Texas", heard as a theme throughout the film, was popular among soldiers in the Confederate Army's Texas Brigade during the American Civil War. Gen. Hood introduced it as a marching song when he took command of the Army of Tennessee in 1864. See more »
J.C. threatens the others with an 1873 Colt Revolver when he wants to leave the group. See more »
The Yellow Rose of Texas
Arranged by David Gates and Gene L. Coon
Tune heard as a theme throughout the film and also used as the music for the song heard at the start and end of the film See more »
Like a TV Western, but has good characters and a compelling story
"Journey to Shiloh" (1968) details the story of seven youths from Concho County in near-West Texas who travel across the Mississippi to join the Confederate Army and kick some Yankee arse. While they intend to ride to Richmond, Virginia, they end up hooking up with Braxton Bragg's Gulf Coast outfit and fighting in Shiloh, Tennessee. The male ingénues learn a lot on their long journey and their introduction to soldiering and war. Who lives and who dies?
James Caan plays the main protagonist, "Captain" Buck Burnett, while the other six "teens" (all well into their 20s) are Michael Sarrazin, Don Stroud, Jan-Michael Vincent, Michael Burns, Paul Petersen and, believe it or not Harrison Ford, a full nine years before his breakthrough with Star Wars, but don't get too excited as he gets the least screen time of the bunch.
On the downside, Universal was huge on TV movies at the time and so "Journey to Shiloh" looks like a TV movie; in fact, it was directed by one of their TV movie directors. So don't expect the cinematic scope of contemporaneous Westerns, like "Duel at Diablo," "Bandolero!," "Hang 'Em High" and "Shalako." It looks serviceable, but also phony and stale. A big part of the phoniness is due to the fake Southern countryside, as the movie was shot in Agoura and Thousand Oaks, California, but takes place in East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and adjoining regions. No matter how you slice it, California doesn't look like the deep South, not to mention the studio sets. Another issue is the movie's cartoony vibe. Things that would ordinarily take much longer occur with the quickness of a comic book.
Despite these glaring flaws, I found myself ignoring them in favor of the story, particularly as it moved along. You feel like you get to know most of the gang by the end of the movie, Harrison's character being the biggest exception. The "boys" grow from wide eyed youngsters to hardened men over the course of the movie, the biggest rude awakening of course being their baptism into soldiering and war.
Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the last third of the film that involves the youths joining up with Bragg's brigade, the ensuing warfare, deaths, injuries, possible desertion and aftermath. Although decidedly comic booky the movie offers a unique glimpse of being a Confederate soldier.
The film features no less than four beauties, albeit all relatively short roles: Tisha Sterling as Airybelle Sumner; the un-credited Susanne Benton as the blond saloon girl, Lucy; Brenda Scott as the brunette saloon girl who falls for Buck; and a nurse (Eileen Wesson).
FINAL WORD: Someone criticized "Journey to Shiloh" for its obvious low-budgeted faults by pointing out that it's no "Magnificent Seven" or "The Wild Bunch." While this may be technically true I found myself enjoying "Journey to Shiloh" more than these heralded Westerns. Yes, the movie has the unmistakable gloss of one of Universal's factory-made television movies, but it's strong in characters and story, cartoony or not. This is likely because the movie's based on Henry Wilson Allen's excellent novel (aka Will Henry). Some call it an "anti-war movie," but this isn't really true; it's simply a "showing-soldiering-and-war-the-way-it-really-was" movie.
The film runs 101 minutes.
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