Jackson, Jean Lafitte, Demel discussed on Key Battles of American History


Insulted Rachel who was Jackson's beloved wife. And so Jackson challenged him to a duel. The other man shot first. They shot Jackson right around the lungs. Okay, not through the heart, but in the long area, Jackson's bleeding and his second is trying to get help him out. And he's like, no, he says, if you put a bullet in my brain, I would still live long enough to kill you. He said those exact words and then he shot the man dead. Charles Wilkinson, I'll look it up in a minute. I want to know that name. But so that's a really nice detail, Steve, about the fact that they gave a nod to the fact that Jackson was carrying around a bullet in his lung area. And he would carry that bullet till the day he died. James here, and now a brief word from our sponsors. I think that demel was really going for it because this was more of a play. I think the dress of Jackson was, they were trying to make him look like the Jackson on the $20 bill. Instead of a realistic portrayal, I think that's where the accent kind of came in. And if you go to Jackson's, I don't know what you would even describe him as aide de camp or his bodyguard. This frontiersman guy who wore the raccoon skin half with the tail on it and everything. He had the most over the top trickily mid Tennessee accent. I mean, the guy was a total caricature. I think with the fancy mister PV maybe, something. Yeah. I think what that sort of thing in the 50s, they just turned those caricatures up as loudly as they could instead of going for something a little bit more subtle. Yeah, exactly. Let's milk it for all it's worth. Have fun with it. The man that Jackson dueled is Charles Dickinson. I think I said, Wilkinson, I'm mixing them up with general Wilkinson, who had been the U.S. commander over New Orleans for a while. All right, so another major thing is, of course, the love story. Q romantic music. By the way, the music is very good in this movie. It's by Elmer Bernstein, who made dozens and dozens of movie scores, a lot of really famous ones. It's escaping my mind, which other ones he did, but Elmer Bernstein was a very talented movie composer. Yeah, and because this is the classic age of Hollywood, we've got to have a love story worked in. We've got a shoehorn it in. So they had to make something up. Jean lafitte had plenty of women, sometimes he was married, but in the movie he has a love interest with other claiborne's only daughter. The daughter in the movie is named Annette claiborne. It's played by inger Stevens, who was a Swedish actress who tragically, I believe committed suicide when she was about 35 later on. But anyway, so claiborne's daughter Annette and Jean lafitte have all these little talks where, oh, I love you, Jean. But I don't think I can be with someone who is an enemy to my country. Oh, I'm not an enemy to your country. I am a businessman. I help your country and things like that. So cheesy stuff, but and totally made up because governor cleburne only had at this time one surviving daughter. She was named, not Annette, or sophronia, Louise claiborne. And she was two years old. At the time of the battle of New Orleans. Now, the real lafitte is believed at least by some sources to possibly have had an affair with the governor's wife, who's not shown in the movie. Needless to say, that's not going to be shown in a 1950s movie. And a fun fact, I got to throw this in. This says nothing to do with the historical accuracy of the movie, but governor claiborne was the great great great grandfather of fashion designer Liz claiborne about that. Yeah, that's a really interesting fun fact. Fun fact. I always have to work in some fun facts. Would that be interesting? I think if they remade this movie, it was too way too spicy for the mid 1950s, but to have that relationship with clayborn claiborne's wife and lafitte and then having lafitte's brother involved. I think that could have made for a really interesting and complex movie. Oh yeah, it's just like a lot of things in history, Steve, the real story is so amazing and so cool. And so fascinating, why can't you just tell the story as it happened? Why do you have to make up a bunch of crap? I was like you said, it would be wonderful to have like a ten part series on the war of 1812, even if it's a docudrama. Those have become real popular lately. We've had like the history channel has actually gotten back in the business of doing good history. They've done Lincoln series. They've done a Washington series of grant series. Fantastic. They just did one on TR, which I haven't seen yet, but do a war of 1812 series. You might even have to make it like a 20 episodes or 15 episodes. It's all about money. I just don't know that many people would be interested in watching that, but it would be wonderful. And it was really, it would be really tricky in a regular movie format. Even though this movie, I think it was about two and a half hours long to have this buddy film with Pierre and Jean lafitte plus with Andrew Jackson. I think Cecil B. DeMille did probably the best he could with it and keep it within the 50s, which this is essentially a sword and sandal drama that demel gives us time and time and time again. Yeah. Just more like swords and boots and muskets. Yeah, I mean, really, I mean, you get the swashbuckling scenes. You get eye drama, but it really does work going on 60, 70 years later. I think it leads to modern audience, just feeling a little flat. Yeah. Yeah, it's not a movie that it's going to get a lot of excitement going on. It's a decent movie. It's fun, but anyway, a couple more things about the historic actually, the actor EG Marshall, great character actor from the 50s, 60s, 70s. He's about the same. He plays claiborne governor claiborne. He's about the same age that Cleveland was at the time, but they make him look a lot older. They give him this white hair and it's just really odd. Why would you do that? But I think you mentioned he looked like an old statue. He's kind of stiff character. The interactions between Jackson lafitte and between the feet and the British Royal Navy officers as well as the interactions between Jackson and the leading citizens of New Orleans are generally accurate. One of the screenwriters said this, he said the actual historic events in question are themselves so over the top that I all I really had to do was line up the dialog and even then only some of it. He added the only real job was shoehorning a romance into it. That's a obligatory. You got to check that box. One other detail I noticed about Jackson as he's constantly saying, by the eternal, I'll destroy you or I'll hang you or something like that. Or by God almighty. He was always swearing at the time they called them oaths. By God, I will do this, sir. You know, I did that a lot. He would say by the eternal, or buy this or buy that. So I thought that was a really good detail too. I also liked that they used those congreve rockets. I did they use them in that battle. I know they used them at the battle of fort mchenry in Baltimore. Yeah, they did. A lot. Yeah, they did here to a lesser extent. The rockets, as we touched upon, were not super destructive. They didn't do a lot of damage. They were mainly, as you said earlier, a terror weapon designed to scare the enemy. Yeah, apparently they couldn't hold much of a charge, if you will, or at warhead, and they had yet to invent stabilizing bins. So then they really just went they were like, what are the ones Roman candles, the ones which is kind of just all around wherever and maybe if they hit something, we would take a lot of luck. Another thing is a major character that we haven't really discussed much is Dominique you. He had been a Corporal in the French army during some of the Napoleonic campaigns and then he found his way to the new world and in the movie he shown as Jean lafitte's second in command. He posed as a general. And he's a really good character. The guy playing him did a great job. And it's mostly accurate. What other detail I want to mention is that in the film, I think I touched on this earlier, but let's talk about it again. Everything is done at the last minute to create tension, you know, the British are coming and they're still piling up cotton bales, and they're still searching for flints for the muskets, things like that. However, the main defensive line at the Rodriguez canal it was called in the movie it's built very quickly and the militias only recruited when the British threatened the city and lafitte arrives with hundreds of pirates and gunpowder just in time to face the British, but actually the main defensive line had been constructed over the course of a week. We did touch on that. But I think it bears repeating. The real Jackson had used martial law to raise several militia units and he had already received about 4000 reinforcements. Now in your key battles of American history, you give a formal rating to the movie. We don't do that so much. But I think this is a good time to maybe give our overall thoughts about the movie. For my overall thoughts, I like that they hit a piece of American history that is not very widely talked about or certainly portrayed in film. And I really, it was accurate enough. I think as far as the production values and that sort of thing, this is a straight down the middle film from the 1950s Cecil B. DeMille, it hits all of the things that's Elsa did. I was incessantly to melted at Charlton Heston, all these movies were either set to lead a male Charlotte less than somehow and gone forward or yeah. But I think it was straight down the middle. It was a fun movie to watch. It was really well done with the costumes and the settings. I wouldn't say that this is a movie I would go and watch every week or once a month or make my kids watch or something. But I think it's something to watch and enjoy. I would certainly recommend it. Yeah, if we're going to do numbers, I'd give it a straight down the middle three. It gets points for, as you said, the costume design is really great. And given that it was filmed on a sound stage, it looks not too cheesy in hokey. Definitely get points. Fuel brinner is fantastic. Charlton Heston is really great. Charles Boyer was Dominic you. He was really good as well. So for those performances, I would give it points. I would take away points for some of the totally fictional stuff like the Corinthian and the ending was terrible. That was unnecessary. Just tell the real story, just let the guy celebrate, let him revel in his success and why do we have to have this side track thing thrown in the end. For those kind of things, I would give it. The dialog is often stiff, the romantic elements are cheesy. There's a second romantic element that we didn't discuss with the actress Claire Bloom, who played Bonnie Brown, the daughter of the captain Brown, who was executed and she's just not good. Major distraction. But other than that, yeah, there's a lot of good, but a lot of not so good. I would have loved to have seen demel started with that lecture in the beginning that a wrap up lecture at the end, and maybe they could have cut out some of that silliness and just had it develop finish the rest of the story. It's kind of the beginning part is sort of like the docu drama, you're talking about, yeah, but I like that idea, but if you had done that, are you going to give the actual ending or will it really happened in history? I guess they could have said that lafitte sailed off and set up shop in Galveston, which was accurate. The reason of course in the show in the movie would not be accurate. But yeah, there are a lot of things that could have been improved, but that's true with so many movies. Yeah. I think that whole docu drama, it's a great way to do film nowadays. I think with historical dramas in a way it's cutting out what we do here. But it's showing the fun of what was happening and really connecting you to the history, but then you get right away, what really happened. Yeah, I agree with you. Well, thanks to James people should definitely go listen to your key battles of American history, especially the war of 1812 special series that's coming up, but all of your episodes are fantastic. And I am sure that you will be on beyond the big screen again. It seems extremely likely. I seem to keep coming back. It's a lot of fun. I always enjoy talking with you about movies. And yeah, we'll do it again. Thank you for listening to today's episode. 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