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The Late Movie: “The Red Badge of Courage” Complete 1974 Civil War TV-Movie


Richard Thomas (“The Waltons”) stars as Henry Fleming in a very good TV-movie adaptation of the classic Civil War novel by Stephen Crane — filmed previously in 1951 by John Huston — revolving around a young Union soldier – a young man who had enthusiastically joined the Union army thirsting to find glory and honor, but running in terror from his first battle, his inner resolve that leads him back to combat, and his ultimate discovery that he doesn’t have it in him to kill. The soldier in his first battle opens his eyes to the reality of how un-glorious and dishonorable war really is. It is not said in either the novel or movie, but it is widely understood that the story is set during the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville and represents members of the 124th New York. This movie was a favorite while growing up – occasionally catching it on TV during syndicated weekend showings during the 1980s – and this transfer is one of the cleanest I’ve found so far… much better than my scratchy VHS recorded off of TV. It originally aired on December 3rd 1974 on NBC.

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