In the Dark

Racial Follies

Band of Angels
Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers 
Directed by Raoul Walsh 
Screenplay by John Twist 

Hostiles
Produced by Le Grisbi Productions 
Written and directed by Scott Cooper 
Distributed by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures 

I had never heard of the 1957 film Band of Angels directed by Raoul Walsh until I came upon it while sampling YouTube’s holdings.  When I saw that it was an adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s novel of the same title, I decided to give it a try.  I’d like to say Angels is a good film, but that would be misleading.  It’s entertaining enough to while away two hours, but it’s little more than that.  Still, I was impressed.  Here was a film that almost certainly wouldn’t be made today, telling as it does a story of events just before and after the Civil War from a largely Southern perspective.  Most of today’s public have been trained to find such a film offensive.  After all, wouldn’t it be shameful to enjoy a story in which racial complications are so openly aired, and not from today’s regnant orthodoxy that reflexively insists on white guilt.

We come into the narrative upon the death of a plantation owner whose property and slaves are being sold to satisfy...

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