Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 06/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No one doubts that THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON with Errol Flynn is a terrific film. It is the last movie that Flynn shares with Olivia de Havilland, and their chemistry shared over a long film marriage is touching and palpable. Flynn's interpretation was to play Custer as a western version of his own hell-raising self, and he dominates each scene in which he appears. He is alternately heroic, funny, sarcastic, haughty, and sacriligious. His co-stars very capably allow Flynn to bounce off them. Against Crazy Horse (Anthony Quinn), Flynn is solemn and candid. Against General Winfield Scott (Sidney Greenstreet), he is properly subservient. Against his Indian hating subordinate officer played by Arthur Kennedy, he is full of righteous fury. The climactic battle at the Little Big Horn is a paean to self-sacrifice and honor. The film does not go wrong internally. Its fault, if one can call it that, is that it bears no relation to historical truth. Every major incident in the film from Custer's days in West Point, to his conduct under battle, to his relationship to his wife, and to his role in the annihilation of him and his troopers at the Little Big Horn are either grossly exaggerated or outrageous lies. Especially disturbing is the movie's suggestion that Custer sacrificed the lives of the men under his command as a means of political expedience. The literal truth was Custer and all his 7th Cavalry were slaughtered only because of his obstinancy in not believing the reports of his Indian guides.
To pass judgment on TDWTBO is to walk a shaky line between lauding a shiny object without questioning too deeply about what makes that object shine. Perhaps a needed corrective would be a disclaimer in the closing credits that what you see is not necessarily what you get. Sort of like life."
I Don't Care
Dennis J. Hermannes | Anchorage, AK USA | 03/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't care if the film is historically inaccurate. Errol Flynn may not have been an ideal figure in real life but the movies he was in, well, I was raised with the 30's and 40's films and his films always gave me a hero to look up to and how things should have been done. They inspired me and taught me right from wrong and how to treat people fairly. Along with my Dad's guidelines, I was better for it. That's all I care about, not whether it was historically accurate. Mr. Flynn, even in real life, was a chip off the old block. I love this film. I grew up with it and it still gets an emotional rise out of me when I view it. Its what Custer should have been in my opinion and as a young boy watching this for the first time, influenced me for the rest of my life. Errol Flynn was my hero after I saw this and his WWII Burma movie. Its a shame he's gotten a bad shake from the critics whether now or in the past."
A Very Gracious Thing
laddie5 | 05/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After "The Adventures of Robin Hood," this is Errol Flynn's best movie. As noted elsewhere, it's worthless as history. But the casting of Flynn as Custer has a resonance that burns up the screen, and behind the romanticism one glimpses a portrait of an unhappy, self-destructive man who is a hero in spite of himself. Flynn's farewell scene with Olivia de Havilland is almost unbearably moving, as if both sensed the real-life parallel and the future awaiting them both. This is a rousing, action-packed movie with just about everything: adventure, comedy and romance... but it's one of the rare ones that also gets under your skin."
TDWTBO Is not History As She Is Spoke -- but it's FUN
Linda D. Terrell | Dunedin, FL USA | 03/01/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I thought TDWTBO was in B&W......
Some of the Hollywood Historians here, while cautioning readers that this film isn't historically accurate, are woefully inaccurate about Custer.
He was NOT an "often inept commander." He was one of the more briilliant commanders of horse to come out of the Civil War. A master of the *flanking* attack. Who was pivotol in holding off the CSA's rear attack on the Union at Gettysburg. Who was pivotal at Appomattox.
While he certainly would not sacrifice himself and his troops, he did put his career on the line in Spring 1876 when he testified before Congress regarding the Indian Bureau's corruption.
He did not ignore his Indian scouts' advice at Little Big Horn -- in fact, he took their advice, which was to attack the village NOW before it broke up and scattered.
Custer was not "arrogant" -- he was supremely confident in himself and his troops. Would you prefer to serve under a commander who thought otherwise? He was Cavalry -- supreme confidence came with the territory.
The most common terms I come across when contemporaries describe Custer, are "Gentleman." And "soft spoken." The only things he really bragged about were his hunting dogs and his own hunting prowess.
Custer had a great sense of humor and was pretty good at deprecating himself. Flynn manages to portray all of this. If Custer had never existed, he would have to have been invented for Flynn to portray in a movie.
THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON is a rip-snorting adventure, full of humor, pathos honor, and gallantry. Which really was what Custer was about."
One of Errol Flynn's finest moments on screen
Simon Davis | 11/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mammoth is the only way to describe the Raoul Walsh directed tribute to Brig. General George Armstrong Custer, "They Died With Their Boots On". As stated by previous reviewers much of the story as depicted in this film is fiction, but what a story!! It would have to be one of the most entertaining and thoughtfully put together epic productions of this time and th eattention to detail is evident in every frame of this film.Errol Flynn, at the peak of his career when this film went before the cameras in 1941 had the role of a life time in Custer and indeed he looks remarkably like the illustrations that survive of what Custer actually looked like. Not since the classic "The Adventures Of Robin Hood" had Flynn been handed such a diverse and challenging role as this and once again he proves what a fine actor he could be given proper material to work with. His development from the cocky and raw recruit at West Point through to his fateful encounters with Chief Crazy Horse leading up to the last tragic stand at Little Big Horn where he learns about humility and tolerance for others, provides him with a remarkable acting chore which he handles with aplomb. Despite the fictionised settings and situations you can believe that Flynn is Custer. The film also marked the last time that Errol Flynn was teamed with Olivia de Havilland after a long series of memorable screen appearances together starting with the classic "Captain Blood" They have a magical screen chemistry together and both excell in their work in this film. Olivia de havilland had a unique acting style whereby she could play submissive types while always injecting them with a slic eof independant character that shone through on the screen. Her Elizabeth Bacon Custer wife of the famous general is such a character and it has over the decades become one of her most loved characterisations."They Died With Their Boots On" delivers a battery of top flight supporting performances from its cast. First and foremost Anthony Quinn is excellent as the famous Chief Crazy Horse. His portrayal shows a multi faceted Indian character far from the nameless hostile Indians normally portayed in such epics set in the west. Charley Grapevine as the tobacco chewing best buddy of Custer who goes down with him in the last stand of Little Big Horn is also excellent in his comical handling of the many dangerous situations he finds himself in with Custer. Arthur Kennedy as fellow West Point graduate Edward Sharp, the villian of the story who is ultimately responsible for re-igniting war with the Indians also shines in his scenes as the constant opponent of Custer's plans. Sydney Greenstreet as General Winfield Scott in a non traditional role of sorts for him also adds dramatic tension to the story during its civil war period and the alway superb Hattie McDaniel playing a variation on her Mammy character is reunited with Olivia de Havilland post "Gone With The Wind" in the role of the match making Callie."Boots" is ably directed by action man Raoul Walsh who obtained the assignment after Errol Flynn adamently refused to have Michael Curtiz assigne dto the production. He and Flynn, while producing great work on screen never got along and their clashes on numerous productions were legendary. Here Walsh is in familiar territory and he keeps the action moving at break neck pace throughout the films very long running time. Indeed despite its length I feel the film never lags at all and constantly injects new elements of interest to keep the attention fixed on what is happening. The film can be almost divided into two sections, that dealing with Custers early life and involvement in th ecivil war and secondly his married life and return to service with exploration of America's west taking place. The battle scenes of the film are some of the best put on film and during filming a number of extras and horses lost their lives so involved where some of the action shots being filmed. The last tragic stand at Little Big Horn is superb entertainment and guaranteed to move you greatly as Custer finds himself in an impossible situation. Prior to this battle in the last scene that Flynn shares with de havilland where he knows he will probably not return Flynn's acting reached new heights of maturity and conviction rarely seen in his work up until then.The production as a whole does not suffer at all from being filmed in black and white. Indeed the period flavour is beautifully captured here and Warner Bother's spent a fortune on getting every historical detail just right. It shows in the horsemanship displayed, in the costumes, period interiors and in the resemblance that most of the actors have for those characters that were not fictional.Errol Flynn did some fine action films in his peak period from 1937 through to the late 40's howver never has he been better than in "They Died With Their Boots On" I recommend this film to you not as an accurate historical lesson of an important period in America's history but as a fine action film filled with great dramatics, sterling performances and a good insight into life back in those earlier times when America was still a new country. Enjoy Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in their farewell performance together."