Unhappy about the appointment of an army general to the chairmanship of an atomic energy committee, a publishing empire female tycoon invites the general at her country estate in an effort to entrap him and ruin his reputation.
In a small New England town during the American War of Independence, Dick Dudgeon, a revolutionary American Puritan, is mistaken for local minister Rev. Anthony Anderson and arrested by the British. Dick discovers himself incapable of accusing another human to suffer and continues to masquerade as the reverend. The minister's wife, Judith, is moved by Dick's actions and mistakenly interprets them as an expression of love for her. In spite of his protestations she finds herself romantically attracted to him. Brought before British commander General Burgoyne, Dudgeon displays his willingness to die for his principles. At the last minute Dick is saved from ministerial pursuits to become a revolutionary leader.Written by
Laurence Olivier is a British general surrounded by mediocrity and outnumbered by rebel forces who won't give him a fair fight. Burt Lancaster is a pacifist minister trying to protect his innocent parishioners, most of whom haven't yet taken any side in the Revolutionary War. Kirk Douglas is a bright-eyed ne'er-do-well, interested only in himself. Put three great actors like this together and you're bound to get great results, right?
Wrong. I completely fail to see how this movie can get such good reviews here. The first 50 minutes of the movie just barely avoid being downright awful. Olivier and Lancaster do next to nothing, while Douglas hams it up so bad that even the audience should feel embarrassed. Janette Scott, as Lancaster's wife, is forced to play a character with no discernible intelligence or personality whatsoever.
Have some patience, however, and you will eventually be rewarded. Lancaster and Douglas both experience sudden character changes. Lancaster gets a chance to be entertaining while Douglas' performance becomes excellent once he tones it down a bit. Allowed finally to interact with these two, Olivier becomes a valuable asset. The resulting 30 minutes is a high-spirited action adventure film with a light comedic touch and occasional witty dialogue. With the handicap of the terrible start, however, this is still nothing more than a pleasant but unremarkable diversion.
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