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Rough Riders (Dbl DVD)
In 1898 the US government, led by Theodore Roosevelt (Tom Berenger) back when he was still a young, ambitious Naval Secretary, intervenes on the side of the Cuban rebels in their struggle against Spanish rule. Always ready for action, Roosevelt leaves the confines of the sidelines and forms a volunteer cavalry regiment which later became infamously known as the "Rough Riders." Roosevelt's regiment brings together volunteers from all corners of the nation to fight against a far superior adversary in one of the most rousing victories in American history.]]>
- Commentary by director/co-writer John Milius and executive producer William J. MacDonald
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Top Customer Reviews
We see a young and vigerous Theodore Roosevelt, anxious to serve, leave his adminsitrative post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy to assume the role of second in command of a volunteer cavalry regiment, known as the Rough Riders. He is there to support the efforts of the commanding officer, Colonel Leonard Wood, to mold cowboys, indians, thieves and polo players into an effective fighting body. That Wood is able to do this so well is a tribute to his leadership and the enthusiasm of Roosevelt and the men who make up the command. Dale Dye givesa very believeable performance of this physician turned cavalry officer.
We see the effective end of 19th century warfare, single shot rifles and large formations of troops facing each other and the introduction of open warfare and effective use of machine guns. It was unfortunate that the military observers who were present in Cuba did not effectively report on the value of a machine gun to the British and French governments.
This film was also a major reunification of the north and south. Gary Busey's Joseph Wheeler is tremendous, although in actual life, Wheeler was quite short and wizened. But it is his fighting spirit that is effectively translated to us. In times of stress Wheeler had a tendency to forget who the enemy was and refer to the Spaniards as Yankees. Fortunately his son and aide serves as the peace-keeper for dad's mis-statements.
You see very few women in this film. You see the men leaving their wives and girl friends to go to war, from Wood and Roosevelt to the private soldiers. The events in Texas and Cuba are shown as almost a fraternity and not inappropriately either. We shouldn't make the mistake of assigning values of the 21st Century to the end of the 19th Century. You also see an aspect of American life that is less glamerous - the segregated Army - black soldiers lead by white officers. It may have been wrong, but that was the way it was done. The portrayal is accurate - soldiers respecting their officers and officers respecting their men. Officers who served in black regiments ran the risk of being seen as less effective officers than those in white regiments. Fortunately for John Pershing, he met Roosevelt and served with him in Cuba and the latter remembered him when he was President. One instance when service in a black regiment was beneficial. Incidently, the black members of the Army were amongst the most experienced and skilled long service soldiers that could be put in the field. They well showed thier skill and valor.
I could go to great length and describe all the actors and thier rolls. Suffice it to say that space precludes this. However, all rolls are well played. You almost get the feeling that these are professional soldiers you were watching. This extends from the military to the diplomatic to the purely commercial as we see William Randolph Hearst encouraging military intervention by sending reporters into Cuba in advance of the Army.
This is a film that all who have an interest in American history should see. It is as much a social commentary as military film. It portrays the many aspects of the Spanish-AMerican War. It shows well, the enthusiasm of men rushing to enlist and the disillusionment of some of the survivors as they return to empty homes where wives and children have left them. It is a well made film that records a segment of our history, right or wrong, but events that happended. It is well worth the rental fee.