Friday, September 17, 2021

ANNE BANCROFT, A 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: The Raid, 1954

 

Crystal Kalyana is back and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hosting a blogathon tribute to the uniquely talented Anne Bancroft. The 90th birthdate celebration runs from September 17th to the 19th. Click HERE for the blogathon contributions.


The Raid, 1954 is a historical drama released by Twentieth Century Fox. The screenplay by Sidney Boehm (The Big Heat) is based on the story treatment of Francis M. Cockrell (Inferno) of the Herbert Ravenel Sass novel Affair at St. Albans. Hugo Fregonese (Saddle Tramp, Man in the Attic) directed. The Raid is based on a true incident that occurred during the American Civil War, the details of which are recounted here

Van Heflin, Peter Graves, Lee Marvin

A group of Confederate prisoners led by Captain Benton played by Van Heflin escape their captors in New York State. There were eight altogether and six will make it across the border to Montreal in Canada. One of the soldiers refuses to go as he cannot condone their plans should the escape prove successful and another was killed.  You win no prize for assuming that Lee Marvin as Lt. Keating is cast as the hothead. His character will bring trouble. Peter Graves as Capt. Dwyer is as dedicated and steady as their leader Benton.

When next we see Captain Benton he is posing as a Montreal businessman by the name of Neal Swayze. He has come to St. Albans on a reconnaissance mission. The Confederacy plans to bring the war to what they think of as the complacent North, to disrupt the flow of troops to the South, and to steal much-needed funds. St. Albans is planned to be the first of many such raids.

Anne Bancroft, Van Heflin

Benton/Swayze: "I didn't mean to stare at you but I had been told about Widow Bishop. I had expected an older lady."

Katy Bishop: "The war makes young widows."

One of the local bankers played by Will Wright advises the boarding house run by the Widow Bishop for good vittles and a clean atmosphere. It is here that Captain Benton will find more than he was looking for. 

In honour of Anne Bancroft's 90th birthdate, we will focus on her role in The Raid. At this point in her burgeoning career, she was generally cast as "the woman," in the picture. Nonetheless, Anne Bancroft brought depth and interest to her characters that were not always apparent in the scripts as written. The character of Katy Bishop has clearly taken control of her life in the midst of tumultuous times providing a haven for her guests and friends and raising her young son played by Tommy Rettig.

Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft

The relationship between Katy and the Confederate raider is not one of those great movie romances, but a subtle meeting of compatible personalities that begins when the Montreal businessman, as he is known, inquires about land that may be available for purchase. The attraction is noted with chagrin by Captain Foster played by Richard Boone. He is a longtime friend of Katy's and the recruiting officer for the district having lost his left hand early in the conflict.  

Benton, like most of the men under his command, has difficulty suppressing his hatred of the Yankees among whom he is living. However, as time wears on and plans for the raid are constantly being changed due to unforeseen challenges from Union Forces and from the explosive Lt. Keating, Captain Benton forges feelings for Katy, Tommy, and the town. His allegiance to the Confederacy has not lessened but he is beginning to appreciate the two sides to the conflict and he no longer fanatically craves the destruction of the entire town. 

Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft

A fundraising dance for the Union becomes an exchange of views and a contest of wills. Katy cannot understand the profound emotions that stir this supposedly neutral Canadian. The conflicted Captain Benton now finds the commitment to his cause equal to his need to be understood.

Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft

A violent incident precipitated by the desperate and irrational Lt. Keating places Captain Benton in a position where doing his duty for the Confederacy, he becomes a hero to the citizens of St. Albans. The look of pride and affection bestowed by Katy is perilously close to the love her friend Captain Foster fears she is feeling.

Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft

There is no stopping the raid, and there is no stopping Katy and Tommy from discovering the truth about the man they have let into their hearts. Captain Benton promises they will be safe and he practically begs for understanding as we hear the shouts and screams from the town square when the looting and arson begin.

Helen Ford, Anne Bancroft, Richard Boone

The destruction around them is a time for Katy and for Captain Foster to display their courage. It is an opportunity for Captain Benton to do the same; can he stay true to his mission and not sink to barbarism? His personal letter left for Katy asks much of her.

Tommy Rettig, Anne Bancroft

Captain Benton: "If they burned St. Albans, would you understand them? Will you forgive them?"


Peter Graves, Van Heflin

The Raid is interesting history, an adventurous story of espionage, and an understated character study that is able to rely on the talents of its leading players to bring layers to their roles. Anne Bancroft, in particular, has the ability to work compatibly with both Van Heflin and Richard Boone in bringing life to Katy Bishop.












18 comments:

  1. Lovely to see Heflin and Anne Bancroft in early roles. She has a lovely expressive face, and you've caught a side to her in all your pictures. Hope all good with you xx

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    1. Anne always had something extra and it is a treat to see her career develop.

      I'm doing alright. The doctors like to keep running tests. They're a very cautious group.

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  2. We have a St. Albans here in Queens but I don’t think anyone made a movie about it. Still, Van Heflin is in it, so it’s probably pretty good.

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    1. There is a St. Albans Rd in our west end neighbourhood. That guy got around!

      It is pretty good. I enjoyed it more on the re-watch. The Raid also features Douglas Spencer and John Dierkes, character actors who are in two of my favourite movies The Thing from Another World, and Shane. Add The Raid and I've got a Spencer/Dierkes movie evening.

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  3. You're right about Anne Bancroft bringing a little something extra to every role, even when cast as "the woman" in pictures like this one. Her intelligence always seems to shine through and that adds depth to even the most stereotypical role. I don't remember seeing The Raid, but will check it out (I see it's currently on YouTube), as I like Anne, Richard Boone, and Lee Marvin.

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    1. It is a solid story. I'm sure you will find things to appreciate especially with the actors mentioned.

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  4. Born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano; later married to Mel Brooks. I love her in this film. I liked her in Nightfall too. And of course, "The Miracle worker". THe Raid has three of my favorite hombres: Marvin, van Heflin, and Boone. What a cast!

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    1. Yes, an excellent cast and a most interesting story.

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  5. This looks like an excellent film, Paddy. I am looking forward to seeing it as I do love a good "conflicted character" story.

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    1. This will be right down your alley. I appreciate this movie on its first and subsequent viewings.

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  6. I agree with your assessment of Anne Bancroft, as an actress who could always find a hitherto unperceived depth in her roles. She always dug into the humanity of a character. I haven't heard of this film, The Raid, but it sounds fascinating, and I love your description of the central relationship as a "subtle meeting of compatible personalities." Plus, I LOVE Lee Marvin! (And Richard Boone ain't a bad actor, either.) Thanks for highlighting; I will definitely seek it out.

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    1. I was impressed with this true story telling. It hit all the right notes.

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  7. I want to mention that JANE POWELL died on Sept. 16 at the age of 92. I have mentioned Jane's birthday on your website every year since she turned 90. (I started reading your website in FEB. 2019). I remember that you saw Jane in a musical play with HOWARD KEEL. Is SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS your favorite musical? P.S. MURDER, SHE WROTE has lost another guest star. As you know Jane played the mother superior in an ep that had ED NELSON, EILEEN BRENNAN and EVELYN KEYES. CLASSIC TV FAN

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    1. It is sad to think of Jane's passing. I adored her and Debbie Reynolds in Two Weeks With Love, and Athena. They shared the April 1st birthdate and were cast as sisters in those movies.

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  8. One of the movies that I know PETER GRAVES from is THE BALLAD OF JOSIE starring DORIS DAY. It had a great cast including ANDY DEVINE, PAUL FIX and GEORGE KENNEDY. It was DAVID HARTMAN's first movie and WILLIAM TALMAN's last movie. CLASSIC TV FAN

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    1. I haven't seen "Josie" in ages. In fact, I think I saw it at the theatre when I was a kid. I'll have to check it out again.

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  9. I didn't realize Anne Bancroft had made a Western, so that's excellent news.

    Also, I agree that she brought extra depth to her roles. I just realized I need to suss out more of her films for that reason.

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    1. The only other western I recall was Walk the Proud Land in 1956. It is the biopic starring Audie Murphy as a bureaucrat who tries to do right in his assignment on a Reservation. Although set in Asia, 7 Women is sort of a "western." Anne basically gets to be the John Wayne type hero.

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