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Band of Angels
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95 of 104 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 15, 2004
Band of Angels is a very well-written screenplay about the oddities of race in America. I would have to compare it with "To Kill a Mockingbird" only I think Band of Angels is more thought provoking.
The plot involves a pre-Civil War Southern belle (whose father has sent her to school in the north which should give you a hint) who returns to Kentucky when her father falls ill. She arrives to see him being buried, and immediately afterwards hears first that her father was bankrupt and all the slaves will be sold and then that she herself is the child of a slave woman and therefore she too will be sold. It seems her father had an affair with a mulatto slave and raised the child as if the mother had been white and married to him. He has (somewhat unbelievably) concealed this from his child, who doesn't understand why her mother is buried outside the family cemetery. Our beautifully-dressed belle ends up being literally sold down the river -- she leaves pleasant Kentucky to be sold on a New Orleans auction block. (The further south you got, the worse conditions were: the other slaves are probably going to end up on a mosquito-infested sugar cane plantation and face a much worse fate than she does, but the movie fails to make this point). It's an eye-opener how particularly shocking the slave auction is when an apparently white woman is being auctioned -- which gives a lot of insight into subliminal racism.
Although a bit dated at parts (the music at the beginning, for example, and the scenes with the slaves singing like a choir), this is a very thought-provoking and yet entertaining movie. I highly recommend it.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2000
It would be interesting to know how audiences reacted to this movie when it was first released in 1957. I never knew that African slaves got packed into ships like sardines until I saw the miniseries "Roots," yet in this movie Clark Gable reveals the shameful story of how Africans were captured (sometimes with the help of other Africans) and packed into slave ships, and how cruelly they suffered. It is like seeing the other side of Rhett Butler, a very dark side. I don't consider this movie to be so much a romantic story as it is a story about forgiveness and the hope of a new and better era. I never knew that Sidney Poitier and Clark Gable had been in a film together, and it is a treat to see two such great actors confronting each other. Poitier plays his character superbly--he is rightfully impatient for freedom and justice, yet he knows he has to watch his step or else he will be crushed. "Gone with the Wind" seems very shallow compared to this movie.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2005
This movie is great. It is amazing to me that few people even know of its existance. The plot of the movie stems from it's main character Amantha Starr portrayed by Yvonne De Carlo. After hearing that her father is ill, she returns home to her plantation in Kentucky to not only finding her father dead and bankrupt, but also finding out that she is a child of the plantation and will be sold like all the other slaves. She is adamant that this is not true until she sees paperwork that proves otherwise. She is then bought at auction by former slave trader and plantation owner Hamish Bond, played wonderfully by Clark Gable. He doesn't want her for a slave, but for his woman which adds to many other complications, such as the jealousy of another slave that from what the movie hints to is the lady of the plantation. Then there is also one of the best performances that I have ever seen him in is Sidney Poitier as Rarou, a slave on Bond's plantation that he has raised like a son. He is very upset that Starr would deny her African roots and "keep on living the white lie," as she states in the movie. Two of the best scenes in this movie is when Gable explains how he came across Rarou and spared his life from the slave catchers and when Poitier and De Carlo are in the abandoned mansion and he is discussing how could she pretend to be something that she is not. That scene had a climatic ending. Also there is a Sgt. Seth Parsons that is sweet on "Manty" and is trailing her because he too wants to marry her and take her away from her "terrible" life. When she was younger and sweet on Seth he was on his way to being a minister and trying not to delve into the ways of man. Oh how things have changed. If you like the drama of the era of the civil war, you will enjoy this movie. It exposes lots of layers that are seldom seen in such cinematic efforts.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2000
This is Clark Gable's best movie, aside from "Gone With The Wind". Very sharp acting, great script. A must see! You'll love it every time you watch it. This is one great, great movie!
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
The positive reviews are right-on, including great Civil War era costumes, and scenery of New Orleans.

The negative reviewer obviously did not see this movie, because:

The Clark Gable character was not a rapist.

On the contrary, if anything, the Sidney Poitier character said Hamish Bond killed with kindness.

The woman house servant had only good things to say about Bond.

Amantha Starr did not fall in love with a rapist.

Hamish Bond's revelations at the end may have been melodramatic, drums beating in the background, but the pathetic truth is, the slave trade had its advocates in both races and both continents.

And life under the Carpetbagger occupation had certain hazards, especially for women.

For an interesting twist on the subject, read _River Rising_ by Athol Dickson, set in Louisiana bayous in 1927.

Also, _A Country Such as This_ the re-released excellent novel and social commentary by James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2004
This wonderful American Civil War drama stars as Amantha, Yvonne De Carlo as a sultry southern belle, who is hiding the secret of her Black ancestry. Clark Gable plays Hamish Bond, the swashbuckling landowner, who, despite her various suitors, is the only man who Amantha ever loved.
After the end war and the occupation of the South by the Union troops, Bond must flee for his life from the vengeful northerners. It is up to a former slave,, now a Union Sergeant (Sydney Poitier) to decide how the drama will play itself out.
While Bond was good to him, and gave him an education and all that enabled him to advance, his heart is still bitter at the experience of knowing he was a slave.
The movie gives a good account of the brutality of both slavery, and the rape of the South by Union forces after the Civil War. We see the routine violation of Southern women by the occupying Northern soldiers.
Made in 1957, this movie is one of the classic masterpieces.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2008
I first saw this movie twenty years ago and am thrilled that I see it on DVD. I fell in love with it right away. It's like Gone with the Wind with a happy ending. Movies like this is what made that era so wonderful.I much prefer these to the so call "realistic" movies of today. Like so many reviews before, it's much more that a bodice ripper. It teaching acceptance and forgiveness and doesn't pull any punches about slavery. Can't wait to get the DVD.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2000
Everyone in this film gives a top performance, even the usually over-acting De Carlo; Gable is almost doing a reprise of his magnificent Rhett Butler role as the powerful and mysterious landowner. Thatcher is great as the rollicking sea captain and Knowles is properly hateful as the smug, bigoted and pompous plantation owner who lusts after De Carlo. The direction is by the legendary Raoul Walsh in this fine adaptation of the novel by Robert Penn Warren. Max Steiner's score is at once thundering and plaintive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2008
Every time I've watched this movie I've enjoyed it and was very glad to be able to purchase it on DVD. The cast is great and the story line is also. I'd highly recommend it if you like Civil War era movies. :)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2008
At last, available on DVD! We have quite a range of reactions to this film, from the greatest film ever to the worst film ever seen. I like to see it every now and then. In fact, I prefer it to the more polished "Gone with the Wind". Yes, Clark Gable is no longer the swaggering brawler, man of action and lady killer of the '30s. Here, we have a more mature and weathered Gable who has settled down to the genteel life of a southern plantation owner, after a financially successful life as a rough and tumble Yankee slave trader. Yet, he is still something of a rebel. He has a guilty conscience about his former life as a ruthless slave trader and wants to make partial amends by treating his large group of slaves decently. In fact, he plans to leave his estate to one. He tends to see the born southern aristocracy as decadently effete, as exemplified by his neighbor, who takes a liking to his recent light-skinned mulatto acquisition(Yvonne de Carlo,as Amantha). Clearly, Gable, as Hamish Bond, has no interest in supporting the recent unsettling changes on the political scene and impending Civil War. He recognizes that these events will probably end his idyllic life and that the lives of most of his slaves will likely be changed for the worse if they are liberated by Yankee troops. Perhaps he recognized that secession failed to solve the looming problem of a lack of new territories for the expansion of plantation slavery, thus depressing the value of young surplus slaves. Perhaps he also recognized that a separate South impeded the legal demands slave owners could make in recapturing slaves who escaped the Confederacy. On the other hand, Hamish refuses to support the cause of the Yankee troops who want to sell his soon-to-be harvested cotton. He risks execution in burning his crop and much of his equipment.
Hamish rescues, in dramatic fashion, a beautiful cultivated mulatto(Yvonne de Carlo, as Amantha) from a fate she could not bear, although she initially shows no gratitude. He doesn't require than she become his mistress and in fact gives her a chance to escape his world, but she has a last minute change of heart and remains with him. Amantha has experienced two benevolent slave owners: her father and Hamish. This is in marked contrast to her treatment as a slave on the auction block.The dialogue makes it clear that Hamish and her father were rather exceptional in this regard. Thus, I don't buy the criticism that this film provides an unrealistically rosy picture of the typical lives of slaves. The film makes the viewer feel deeply the horror of a sudden change in status from a southern belle to a life-long slave. If you want a much more extreme example, read the book "Skeletons in the Zaraha", in which shipwrecked Yankee sailors are transformed into barely living slaves of fearsome tribes or Arabs near the coast of northwest Africa.
The relationship between Hamish and his slave and appointed successor Rau-Ru(Sidney Poitier) is another key element of this story. Rau-Ru hates the institution of slavery and Hamish even more for his rather successful attempt to make slavery agreeable to his slaves. The fact that Hamish has willed him as his successor does not change Rau-Ru's attitude. The last portion of the film deals mainly with the back and forth relationships between Rau-Ru, as a now Union soldier, and Hamish and between Amantha and Hamish and a certain Caucasian Union soldier. See the film to find out how this rapidly changing complex of relationships turns out.
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