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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Missouri Civil War on classic television

While searching through old movies on YouTube the other day, I saw the name of a familiar battle of the Missouri Civil War. Decision at Wilson's Creek was a 25 minute TV movie from the popular show Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. The show ran from 1956-1961 and many of the episodes were based on stories written by Zane Grey, one of the most famous Western writers.

This episode aired in 1957. I'm not sure if it's a Grey story or not. I can't find a tale by that name although of course it could have been retitled. The story opens with a Confederate officer (played by John Forsythe, the voice from Charlie's Angels) in the army of General Sterling Price resigning his commission and returning to his wife in Springfield. His army buddies deride him for a coward, but it soon turns out he's on a secret mission to find out Union troop strengths before the Battle of Wilson's Creek.

Other than the fictional character, the episode sticks fairly close to history. The main error was showing the Confederates in beautiful new uniforms, when in fact many of Price's men had no uniforms at all, or pretty ragged ones. The acting is fairly good, the writing so-so, and it's worth seeing as a historical curio and for a bit of old-time TV nostalgia.

1 comment:

  1. I guess back then they didn't want to expose people the harsh realities of war. (At least not on television.) Be curious to find out if that was a Grey story.


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