Tuesday, February 16, 2010
More Observations of "NORTH AND SOUTH: BOOK II" (1986)
On another blog, I had posted a review and a list of flaws about the miniseries' production. Here are more observations on the 1986 miniseries:
MORE OBSERVATIONS OF "NORTH AND SOUTH: BOOK II" (1986)
POMPOUS QUOTES - Lines that I suppose were to be well meaning but came off as self-righteous or a speech:
"I never wanted this war. But we would be without pride, without honor, if we let the North tell us how to live. There are some things worth fighting for, Madeline. This land, this family, our way of life . . .” – Orry Main to Madeline La Motte
"After the Mexican War, I swore I’d never wear a uniform again. But I can’t sit here in Lehigh Station, while the country is being torn in half. I agree with the President. The Union must be preserved." – George Hazard to Constance Flynn Hazard
"Numbers alone won’t be enough. This will be a people’s war. Brother against brother. Our greatest test. Those boys moving south deserve the best arms and cannon we can give them." – President Abraham Lincoln
"The issue here is not just the fate of the United States, but of the whole family of man." – President Lincoln
"The Yankee battle flag. One of our colonels took it. It was taken while Jackson stood like a stone wall." - President Jefferson Davis to Orry
"I understand that after Manassas, we could have taken Washington, had those militia supported our Potomoc forces." - Orry to President Davis
"Your brother’s marriage is an act of faith and hope that Mont Royal will go on." – Clarissa Gault Main to Brett Main Hazard
"The North recovered from Manassas, sir. We shall from this (Fort Donelson defeat). There will be no more talk now of an easy victory." - Orry to President Davis
"George Washington’s statue. Always been an inspiration to me. That’s why I chose his birthday to become the first president of the Confederacy. That great man refused to give up, in spite of everything. He brought to birth a new nation. So will I, so will I." – President Davis
"We’ve never had fighting like this before on this continent. Skirmishes, maim and filth. More than major battles in earlier wars. We’re not prepared for such casualties." - Dorothea Dix to Virgilia Hazard Grady
"I have seen horrors as bad or as worse as any war. Atrocities inflicted by Southern slaveowners on their black victims. I’ve witnessed that. I’ve touched them with my own hands Bodies burned. Beaten with whips. Wounds, scars, hideous disfigurements." - Virgilia to Miss Dix
"I have always believed in equality for men and women." - Virgilia to Miss Dix
"There’s a whole way of life at stake here. If it’s God’s will that we prevail, we won’t just win a war, we’ll secure freedom for all our people." – President Lincoln to George
"No sir. I’m going to give this (a skull) a proper burial. He was a brave soldier." – Tom to Lieutenant Stephen Kent
"Only unconditional surrender will give us a lasting peace." – General U.S. Grant to General John Rawlins
"Vicksburg seems like more of a disaster everyday. By surrendering there, we lost the Mississippi and saw our nation cut in two." - Orry to Captain Calvin Shelby
"General Lee is in ill health and discouraged. I hope he does not consider resigning. The Confederacy is doomed without Lee. He must stay on." – President Davis to James Huntoon and other fireaters
"This is almost as bad as the Wilderness. Since Grant’s been in charge, we’ve been pushing Lee back, but at what cost." - Corporal Shane to Virgilia
"Think how difficult it will be for those whose loved ones will never come home." - Constance to Maude Hazard
BAD QUOTE - Or lines that made me want to squirm
"I want my freedom! You can’t force me to love you!" - Madeline to Justin
"Don’t you laugh at me! Don’t you ever laugh at me. Or I will kill you." - Bent to Ashton
Brett’s blue and white day dress (Outside War Department & near Engineers’ camp; I)
Elkhannah Bent’s dark blue overcoat and gray waistcoat and trousers (First Meeting w/Ashton inside his house; I)
Brett’s gray day dress (Inside Washington boarding room w/Semiramis; I)
Constance’s blue and white dress (At Bull Run; I)
Madeline’s light blue evening gown (Supper at Resolute; II)
Ashton Main Hunton’s pink-salmon gown with black trimming (At the Huntoons’ reception for Vice-President Alexander Stephens; II)
Bent’s cream-colored suit (At the Huntoons’ reception for Alexander Stephens; II)
Madeline’s wedding gown; II
Maude’s maroon and green evening gown (Inside Belvedere’s parlor w/Stanley Hazard and Isabel Truscott Hazard; III)
Ashton’s pale purple traveling dress (At Mont Royal; III)
Huntoon’s ice blue jacket with gray trousers, powder blue waistcoat and dark blue top hat (At President Davis’s office; IV)
Constance’s deep blue dress (Meeting with Lincoln; IV)
Isabel’s red evening gown (Christmas at Belvedere; V)
Rafe Beaudine’s black suit and long boots (Christmas in Charleston; V)
Constance’s white and blue checked dress (At Belvedere w/George; V)
Virgilia’s aquamarine blue gown (Reception for Sam Greene; VI)
George and Orry’s civilian suits (During Clarissa’s funeral; VI)
Bent's dark blue riding suit (With Ashton inside barn/Part V)
Ashton's short red jacket with blue trimming over a white blouse and a blue skirt (With Bent inside barn/Part V)
Rafe's dark blue coat, red waistcoat, blue trousers, which are tucked inside long boots (Walk with Madeline/Part V)
Mrs. Westcott's deep blue dress (Meeting with Madeline/Part V)
Huntoon's light-gray double-breasted suit (Meeting with Davis and Orry/Part V)
INCONSISTANCIES - In an earlier ARTICLE, I had posted a list of plot inconsistencies in ”BOOK II”. Here are more minor subplots and moments that did not make sense:
Why would Charles, a West Point graduate and an Army veteran, believe that the South would easily whip the North with very little difficulty?
Why did the Mont Royal field hands go through so much trouble to save the Mains’ cotton without any white supervision?
Why did Ezra, or one of the Mains’ neighbors, send the message about Clarissa’s injury and Justin LaMotte’s kidnapping of Madeline to Brett in Washington D.C., instead of Orry in Richmond? Why hire a messenger to go behind enemy lines to deliver the message to Brett?
Only the infantry from Wade Hampton’s Legion fought at Bull’s Run. Both his cavalry (of which Charles and Ambrose Pell are part) and flying artillery were left behind.
The defeated Union troops at Bull Run had retreated in an orderly manner until they reached the panicking civilians, who blocked the stone bridge in a massive traffic jam. Only then, did the troops panicked.
During his fight with Justin’s troops, Orry manages to kick one man, despite a crippled leg. Hmmm.
Why did Orry remained at Mont Royal for over three months (between late July and November 1861), despite the fact that Justin was dead?
Why are Charles and Ambrose Pell dragging their swords with them, while crawling on the ground, scouting? They should have left them behind, sheathed into their saddles.
Why are Charles and Ambrose leading infantry platoons during the battle of Antietam? They are supposed to be cavalry scouts.
Why do Billy and other officers like Rudy Bosford and Stephen Kent seem to be fighting together, instead of leading their own platoons? Especially at Antietam?
Why did Ambrose die, while operating a defective cannon? How does a cavalry scout who was not even West Point trained, knew how to use a captured artillery piece?
"You had a fine record at the Point." - How did U.S. Grant knew about George’s West Point record? He had graduated three years ahead of George and the two had just reunited.
George had visited General Grant’s headquarters during the winter of 1862/1863 in Western Tennessee. Yet, I could have sworn that Grant was in Northern Mississippi during this period.
The cavalry troopers and officers used sabers a lot in this miniseries. Yet, from what I had read, sabers were considered useless by the middle of the war. I thought troopers used rifles, shotguns and pistols.
Young Orry Nicholas Main was born around May 1864. Which meant he had to been conceived around August 1863. Yet, according to the miniseries, Orry visited Mont Royal between late June 1863 (when George Meade assumed command of the Army of the Potomoc) and the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863).
How did George transformed from an artillery commander (during the Battle of Gettysburg) to an infantry commander by the end of the war?
Why was George, promoted to a general, directly ordering artillery men to fire? He should have left such direct orders to subordinate officers.
The miniseries shows George and Billy’s reunion on the evening of July 1, 1863, following Gettysburg’s first day. Yet, it only shows one more day of battle. The Battle of Gettysburg lasted three days.
What was George doing back with Lincoln’s war cabinet, following the Gettysburg battle? I thought he had been made a field commander.
Why on earth would Ashton bother to bring along foodstuff to Mont Royal with her? The war in Virginia would have made it impossible for her to gather that much food. And she could have easily found plenty of food stuff in South Carolina, which would not be devastated until General WilliamSherman’s arrival in January-February 1865.
What was that major battle that took place before Charles and Augusta’s reunion in May 1864? The first battle between Grant and Lee did not occur until the Wilderness; which Billy and the Sharpshooters fought after Charles and Augusta began their affair.
Who, exactly, was in second command of the Sharpshooters?
Why were the Confederate troops marching toward the Sharpshooters in formation during the Battle of the Wilderness? That particular battle was more or less an engagement in bushwacking.
I noticed that among the foodstuff that Madeline had acquired for the refugees were sacks of rice stamped MONT ROYAL. The Mains grew cotton in the miniseries. And I did not recall any cotton being harvested, since Justin burned the Mains’ last crop in Episode 1.
Why would Ashton be stupid enough to meet with Bent at night, while Huntoon was at home?
Colonel John Mosby captured George in May 1864. Yet, seven months later, Charles informed Orry that he had overheard Mosby tell Wade Hampton that the former had just caught a Yankee general. Exactly when did Charles overheard Mosby and Hampton’s conversation?
Why did Captain Turner failed to show immediate respect at the sight of Orry, who clearly outranked him? Even before he became suspicious?
When George escaped from Libby Prison, why did he go straight to Lehigh Station? Should he have not gone toWashington D.C. to report for duty - and send for Constance?
Why did Madeline left the safety of her boardinghouse, late at night, to send a messenger to Richmond about Bent? She could have waited until the following morning. Or better yet, summon one to her boardinghouse? Perhaps Bent would not have accosted her on the streets.
"Cotton’s gone, boy. I ain’t wasting no sweat or blood saving something that don’t belong to me." - Cuffey to Ezra
"You saw my wedding picture? . . . My sister Brett was that drab little thing to my right." - Ashton to Bent
"The world has gone insane, George. Completely insane." - Constance to George
"And when she’s (Madeline) disposed of, it will destroy him (Orry) . . . slowly." - Bent to Ashton
"Another year of this war and you Mains won’t be so high and mighty." - Salem Jones to the Main women
"This is the only might that the white man understand! Cold steel!" - Cuffey to Semiramis
"You stay then. Keep waiting for your white rooster, Charles. Who’s fighting to keep me and you slaves. Maybe they’ll let you sleep in his bed. Ain’t nothing left here for me. Maybe pay for all the pain, sweat and blood those folks done took from me." - Cuffey to Semiramis
"You were so close to freedom when you were in Washington! Why you come back?" - Ezra to Semiramis
"I wouldn’t believe you’d been able to think of a white man after Salem Jones!" - Ezra to Semiramis
"No sir. This (Mont Royal) was never our home." - Caleb to Orry
"You were always there with that smile that said, ‘Orry Main, you’re destined to be my pride and joy and if I’m wrong and you turn out to be a no-good account, I love you anyway.’" - Orry to Clarissa
"Mama, you’re the best there ever was." - Orry to Clarissa
"After you’ve been out here a while, you might decide Washington isn’t so bad." - Billy to George
"George, I haven’t seen Brett in two years!" – Billy to George
"Mighty far south for a Yankee, aren’t you?" – Private Raymond to Billy
"I am not an old woman! I can do my share!" - Clarissa to Brett and Madeline
ASHTON: "Can you believe Abe Lincoln put darkies in the Army? James says it would
be a disgrace to be wounded or killed by one."
BRETT: "How would James know? He’s not fighting."
"Yes Madeline, I do hate you. Elkhannah Bent was right. Hatred is like fine. It improves with age." - Ashton
"Black or white, I despise your kind! Especially the way you even treat your own family! You gonna pay for what you’ve done. Someday, you’re gonna know what it is to be alone!" - Semiramis to Ashton
"He’s (Tom) a drummer boy. He’s just a kid. More guts than a sergeant." - Billy to Brett
"I love you, Brett Hazard! Never forget that." - Billy to Brett
"You are a miserable, frustrated woman, Ashton!" - Brett to Ashton
"And if I never see you again, little sister, it would be too soon." - Ashton to Brett
"I know all about men who hunger after their wives, Hazard. But if every officer in this army did what you did, Jeff Davis would be sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch of the White House!" – Colonel Hiram Berdan to Billy
"Gentlemen, you know I can’t abide cuss words, but this time I’m going to use one. Because I am damn tired of hearing what General Lee is going do to us! Start thinking about what we’re going to do to him. Some of you think he’s about to turn a double sommersault and land on our rear end on both flanks of both sides." - U.S. Grant to his staff officers.
"Then it’s best that people don’t speculate." - Madeline, while defending Rafe Beaudine from her landlady’s gossip.
"You touch him, you’re a dead man. I’ll crack your skull like an egg." - Captain Turner to George
"You’re nothing but trash!" - Union prisoner to Captain Turner
"You’re always sorry, James. Well, sorry doesn’t butter any biscuits, if you know what I mean." - Ashton to James Huntoon
"I never want to see another clamp or surgeon’s saw or hospital wagon for as long as I live." - Virgilia to Corporal Shane
"Ma’am, I don’t run this war. It runs me." – Lincoln to Constance
"You get out of here, Salem Jones! Or this other barrel is gonna blow your head off!" - Semiramis to Salem Jones
"You’ve got to wake up, Madeline! Honor’s dead! It’s been killed in the war." - Rafe to Madeline
"My name is George Hazard, you miserable scum!" - George to Mr. Morgan
"Apparently you haven't heard your husband, dear. It's over, Isabel." - Constance to Isabel
"So congratulate yourself, Mr. Colbert. It's not everyday a lawyer helps a scoundrel help a lady." - Rafe to Miles Colbert
"We're beat, Charlie! Can't you see that? Grant's got us bottled up in Petersburg. And he's gonna stomp us until there's more blood in the trenches than rainwater!" - Jim Pickles to Charles
"Damn you Ashton!" - Orry to Ashton, before giving her a well-deserved slap.
EXCELLENT SCENES - What I thought were the best scenes
in the miniseries
George and Virgilia’s quarrel inside her boardinghouse room (Part 1)
Charles and Augusta first meet while eluding Union troops (Part 1)
Bull Run sequence (Part 1)
George and Orry’s bitter reunion (Part 2)
Charles and Augusta’s resistance to a night of passion (Part 2)
Billy and Charles’s reunion at Antietam (Part 3)
Orry and Clarissa say good-bye (Part 3)
George’s reunion with Billy before the second Gettysburg battle (Part 3)
Ashton’s revelation to Madeline about the latter’s mother (Part 3)
Madeline and Rafe Beaudine meet for the first time (Part 4)
George’s introduction to Libby Prison (Part 4)
Mrs. Neal accuses Virgilia of murdering a Confederate prisoner (Part 4)
George confronts Stanley and Isabel about Axol Iron (Part 5)
Ashton prostitutes herself for Bent’s scheme (Part 5)
Rafe Beaudine’s death (Part 5)
Ashton confesses to an early abortion and her part in Madeline’s disappearance to Orry (Part 5)
Battle near Fort Steadman (Part 6)
George and Virgilia say good-bye (Part 6)
George and Orry reunite (Part 6)
Attack upon Mont Royal (Part 6)
1. Parts 2 and 5 are difficult to watch. So slow! It took me over a week to watch these two episodes. And I had plenty of opportunity to finish the story a lot sooner. I felt so relieved when I finally finished, something I have never felt about ”NORTH AND SOUTH” or ”HEAVEN AND HELL”.
2. Did anyone else noticed the Yankee hurrah that George let out when he learned that Lee had surrendered?
3. I noticed that the producers managed to conveniently give Augusta Barclay relatives living in Charleston. I suppose they did not want Charles roaming all over Virginia looking for his son. Or searching for young Gus in Washington D.C. (as in the novel).
4. When Ezra had asked Semiramis why she did not attempt an escape while she was in Washington, I found myself wondering the same thing. Then it occurred to me - Semiramis wanted to return, in case Charles might return to Mont Royal. Well, she had to wait nearly four years for that to happen. As for Ezra, I guess Semiramis was the only reason that kept him at Mont Royal. Talk about unrequited love, which thankfully did not last very long.
5. One question - why did Bent bother to get the portrait of Madeline's mother from that New Orleans whorehouse? As far as he knew, Madeline was the wife of one of Orry's neighbors. Bent had no idea that Orry had an emotional tie to Madeline until Ashton later told him.
6. MRS. NEAL - Olivia DeHavilland did an excellent job of portraying one of the most dislikeable characters in the entire trilogy. Harry Venable and James Huntoon also make the list. I take that back. She is the most dislikeable. I can understand how she would be concerned that Virgilia might not be giving proper care to Southern patients, but did she have to be so self-righteous about it? She practiced self-righteousness to a level that made Virgilia look like an amateur! And I have never seen anyone who pre-judged others like she does! Granted, Virgilia was partially responsible for the troubles she endured. She could been less hostile toward the older woman, expressed more concern for Southern patients and refrain from losing her cool when accused of murder. But the old biddy could have at least did a more thorough job of investigating the death of that Southern officer before, accusing Virgilia of murder! Mrs. Neal also could have asked others, beside Corporal Shane about what happened. But nooo! Since Virgilia was an abolitionist who had made no attempt to hide her dislike of Southerners, Mrs. Neal felt she had the perfect culprit.
That is all for now.