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Journey to Shiloh (1968)

If that Confederate flag up there made you think that Journey to Shiloh was some kind of racist drivel, it's supposed to . . . .

Because that's exactly what it seems like for the first twenty minutes or so, as the seven "Concho County Comanches," led by their elected militia captain Buck Burnett (James Caan), ride eastward to Richmond with dreams of Southern patriotism and glory as wannabe cavalry troops in the Army of Northern Virginia . . . .

Along the way, they encounter "loyal darkies" who extol the virtues of their slave-masters, are invited to a plantation's cotillion but ejected by the wealthy slave-owner whose own son will not be joining these young patriots in their ride to glory, and naively betray an escaped slave to the local sheriff only to be shocked to see him hanged. Yet even after the shock of this hanging, the youths are not yet disillusioned . . . .

But then, long before reaching Richmond, the boys are tricked into enlisting in the infantry of General Braxton Bragg, whose army is marching toward the bloody Battle of Shiloh, which only Buck Burnett will survive . . . as an amputee/deserter making his lonely way on foot back to Texas.

Produced at the height of both the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam Era draft and based on a novel of the same title by Will Henry, Journey to Shiloh portrays working-class youths deluded by false ideals into fighting rich men's wars. And it's a reminder that, even in the absence of a formal draft, military recruiting can result in an "economic draft" of working class and urban youth.

Tisha plays the small but important role of Airybelle Sumner, the air-headed queen of the cotillion from which the boys are ejected, who apologizes to our young heroes and, with picture-book antebellum femininity, sends them off as crusading knights inspired by her misplaced ideals of Southern glory!

Some items of screen trivia: James Caan's first credited screen role supported Olivia deHavilland in 1964's psychological thriller Lady in a Cage, in which Ann Sothern also made a supporting appearance as the drunken hooker Sade. And 1968's Journey to Shiloh marks Tisha's first co-starring appearance with good friend and fellow 60s rebel Don Stroud, with whom she also co-starred that same year in Coogan's Bluff and would rejoin eight years later in The Killer Inside Me (1976). Journey to Shiloh also reunited Tisha with Paul Petersen, "Jeff Stone" of The Donna Reed Show, on which Tisha had guest-starred in 1965's season-opening episode. Journey to Shiloh was Harrison Ford's second credited film appearance, his first having been another Civil War film, "A Time for Killing" (also known as "The Long Ride Home").

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