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... more » 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.« less
"John Milius did an absolutely amazing job of putting together a film that depicts the establishment and deployment of the 1st U.S. Vounteer Cavalry. Milius has done wonderful justice to his longtime hero, Theodore Roosevelt, who he once said was the embodiment of everything great about America. As Americans, we take so much of our heritage for granted. In this day and age of our all-volunteer armed forces, high technology and limited warfare, any discussion of our heritage and sacrifice in the blood our ancestors made is neatly compartmentalized for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. This is a shame. Sometimes, the people who are supposed to be leading us aren't much help, either. Our elected and appointed officials often flounder in the face of bad press without explanation. The end result is that no one can understand how our government can ask people to fight and die in places far away, for causes that sometimes seem to have more to do with whether or not we can maintain our standard of living than anything else. The wars we fight now seem to be fleeting events that come and go. Tragically, the dead are gone, and life goes on without them.
In his various career incarnations as Governor of New York, the Secretary of the Navy, and as President, Roosevelt was always one to inspire controversy. As a Lieutenant Colonel assigned to the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, he was no different. To Roosevelt, war was not the drudgery of hell on earth, but an enobling excercise, one which all Americans should aspire to. Amusingly, after one visit with Roosevelt, author Mark Twain remarked that it was easy to see the Roosevelt was "cleary insane." Whether you agree or disagree, Tom Berringer is the perfect Roosevelt. He portrays TR as a man of vision and backbone, as the sort of man who would one day forge the United States into the awsome power that it is today. Berringer's performance in "The Rough Riders" is possibly the best of his career.In 1898, the American nation was, in many ways, still rebuilding from the civil war. For the people of America, this was the dawn of an industrialized nation, and for the first time, American industry was forging the tools that would take our Naval Forces into the twentieth century. Yet it would be twenty years before the new technology of the tank and airplane would be implemented in land warfare. The Spanish-American war is unique in that in many respects, both politically, strategically and tactically, it was a prelude to World War One. Without going into a plot synopsis (I'm not going to explain something you can see for yourself), I will say that the story unfolds perfectly and the direction is impeccable. All of the supporting actors, Brad Johnson, R. Lee Ermy, Dale Dye, Brian Keith, Sam Elliott, Gary Busey and George Hamilton are superb in their roles.Yes - this is a film that should have been a theatrical release. Yes - this is a film that ought to be put on a two-dvd set with lots of extras. Yes - this is a great film.The "Rough Riders" was made for presentation as a made for TV film for Turner Broadcasting. It was first broadcast in 1998, roughly 100 years after the Spanish American war. I'll give Ted Turner credit; I don't agree with him on very much, but I will say that Turner Broadcasting performed a great service in broadcasting "The Rough Riders". In a day and age where films depicting shoddy characters with even shoddier values are routinely churned out and targeted for specific demographic groups, "The Rough Riders" is an anomoly. It is an inspired film."
"TR," and the "Rough Riders" According to Milius
G M. Stathis | cedar city, utah USA | 09/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As he did in 1975 with "The Wind and the Lion," director and writer John Milius mixes history and adventure in his 1997 production of "Rough Riders," and in both cases the results are enjoyable although over the top at times. Curiously, he focuses on Theodore Roosevelt in both films and creates two of the more interesting interpretations of this famed American. In "Rough Riders," a young and very energetic Roosevelt is played by Tom Berenger (also co-producer) with both distinction and humor. It is perhaps the definitive TR to date. Note, especially TR's opening speech at the Naval War College and his retropsective at the end of the fight for "San Juan Hill." The action scenes are typical Milius, great fun and again at times a bit over the top. The film shifts from overly patriotic to momentary scenes that are clearly critical of American expansionism and jingoism. Milius does make one thing clear, after these events nothing was to be the same. This was a defining moment in American history. Well produced, written and acted, this film could have made it on the big screen rather than television and it should be on DVD! Certainly one of Milius' best efforts, "Rough Riders" is an enjoyable romp."
Roughriders- true to form, accurate and inspiring!
jeff | Universal City, CA | 12/05/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all of the recent genre of movies depicting vignettes of American history, Roughriders goes the extra mile to capture the essence, mood and feeling of Victorian America as it flexed it's international muscles for the first time! Berenger and the supporting cast are outstanding, and the battle scenes are among the most accurate ever made. This is a must see!"
Excellent movie about a "forgotten" War
J. Collins | Las Vegas, NV USA | 04/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Rough Riders" as you might guess describes the exploits of Teddy Roosevelt's volunteer cavalry unit in the Spanish American War. Berenger, Busey, and Brian Keith all turn in excellent performances as Roosevelt, Joe Wheeler, and the President. However, the movie also shows some excellent research-given that John Milius was a writer as well as director this isn't too surprising. Mr Milius is a weapons collector, and historian as well as a director. The weapons, accoutrements, and uniforms are all authentic for the 1890's. But what I found even more accurate were the Victorian sentiments echoed by the characters: at the beginning of the movie Roosevelt makes a speech about the need for America to assert herself on the world stage as she comes from "warrior races"; later there is a discussion about "the patrician class" needing to be "ennobled" by war. These were commonly held views at the time. The writers wisely refrained from imposing 20th century speech and beliefs on their characters. Certainly the feelings that Americans had at the time about the war would be difficult to understand if they did. The battle sequences are superbly done, while the movie IS about the Rough Riders, the crucial contribution of the all-black 10th Cavalry to the Rough Rider's success both in their early engagements and later at San Juan Hill is well illustrated. However, some scenes were taken right out of every war movie ever made. The first act is basically look-how-this-renegade-band-of-misfits-disdains-army-discipline-to-become-an-outstanding-fighting-organization. I doubt the army of 1898 would have tolerated this anymore than the army of 1998. As another reviewer commented, the correspondent's Homeric commentary in the climax of the movie, while again authentically Victorian in speech and sentiment, was definitely over-the-top and almost embarrassing to watch. Also, the musical score was at times too heavyhanded for the scenes at hand. Finally, although putting the William Randolph Hearst character in Cuba was a good way to juxtapose the reality of the campaign with what the papers were reporting, I don't believe that Hearst was ever there, nor would he have dressed like a Victorian version of a pirate. That being said, it's a richly detailed, and historically accurate story about a little-known but important war in American history. Recommended."
The Right Men at the right time & place
D. D Lawson | Pasadena, Calif. USA | 10/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I thought that this film was just glorious! While it starts out very slow and tedious it more than makes up for it by the last 2/3. The casting was very good as Busey played a very good Gen. Wheeler (although "Fighting Joe" was a much smaller man in size) Sam Elliot was a perfect match for Bucky O'Neil. That and Tom Beringer made a very fitting performance of Theodore Roosevelt. (Who has been called a steamroller in trousers, what a stud of a President was he! We sure could use him today!!)By the by TR was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service at San Juan Hill. It was just 82 years late, but thats the Army for you. The uniforms and weapons were very accurate to my eye as was the use of terrain.All in all I just hope that this film comes out in DVD soon! Well done to all hands involved!"