movie review: the proud rebel

This post is part of The Alan Ladd Blogathon taking place at Hamlette’s Soliloquy.  You can read the rest of the blogathon posts here.

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Confederate veteran John Chandler (Alan Ladd) returns from defeat in war to find his home razed, his wife dead and his young son, David (David Ladd), traumatized and rendered mute. Desperate to cure the boy, Chandler takes David to a small town in Illinois where he hopes to find a doctor. But, soon after the pair arrives, Chandler finds himself framed for assault — and forced to choose between serving hard time and working for struggling local farmer Linnett Moore (Olivia de Havilland).

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I remember watching ‘The Proud Rebel’ at my grandparents’ house and not taking much away from it except a couple of hazily remembered scenes (mainly one in the courtroom where Linnett talks to the judge and also some bits regarding the dog).  I mostly forgot about it except to sometimes wonder “What was that movie with the dog and the deaf boy?” (I mistakenly thought that David was deaf.)  Then I got rather interested in Alan Ladd and found an old DVD of ‘The Proud Rebel’ in our collection, so I popped it in to watch and when I hit the courtroom scene I was like “Ohhhhhh…I remember you!”.  Very cool feeling.

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Alan Ladd plays John Chandler and his real-life son, David Ladd, plays his in-the-movie son, David Chandler.  Alan Ladd puts in a fine performance as John Chandler, a man looking to move forward from his past as a Confederate soldier as well as trying to find help for his mute son.  I really love the relationship between John and David – the boy is mute, so he has to depend on his father to help him communicate with people.  Their interaction is made even more heartwarming by the fact that they’re father and son IRL.  John and David’s father-son relationship is a huge part of ‘The Proud Rebel’, since John wanting to find a workable treatment for David is what drives pretty much all the action.

Linnett, portrayed by Olivia de Havilland, is one of the best female characters I’ve ever seen in a western.  She’s run her ranch (or is it a farm?) singlehandedly ever since her father (and brother, I think) died.  She’s kind and compassionate, particularly towards David (he steals her heart much sooner than his father does), but she’s also strong and capable and gives John plenty of good advice throughout the film.  Linnett’s farm is threatened by the villain of the piece, Harry Burleigh, and he’s a pretty formidable villain, played quite well by Dean Jagger (who I know best as the great General Waverley in ‘White Christmas’ – still not used to him in a villainous role).

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I don’t care for dogs, but I still enjoyed every moment of ‘The Proud Rebel’, even the last twenty minutes or so which are centered almost entirely around David’s dog.  And no spoilers, but the ending is predictable without being any the less emotional for all that.

Overall, ‘The Proud Rebel’ is a good, solid film.  I’ve watched it twice, enjoyed it twice, and I wouldn’t be the least opposed to seeing it a third time.  The cinematography, story, and dialogue all flow together well and the plot is interesting.  Recommended to fans of westerns, dogs, Alan Ladd, Olivia de Havilland…just about anyone.

(My six-year-old brother liked it, so it’s good for children as well.)

(And you can watch it for free on Youtube.  Just so you know.)

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Eva

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20 thoughts on “movie review: the proud rebel

  1. This really is such a sweet movie. And I agree — Linnett is an unusually awesome female character for a western. Middle-aged, for one. Strong-minded, for another. Willing to find help and accept that she’s not self-sufficient, for a third. I really love her.

    I’ve discovered recently, by re-reading an old journal looking for something else, that I actually saw this as a teen. I also love Dean Jagger as General Waverley, so I kind of vaguely remember hating this because he was so mean and evil in it, and never wanting to watch it again. But when I watched it last year, I had zero memory of it. Huh. Usually there will come a point where I have a recollection of a movie I’ve seen years ago (even if I’ve forgotten I’d seen it — like Hour of the Gun, which I got like 2/3 of the way through and suddenly went, “I’ve seen this part!!!” And sure enough, I watched it as a teen too), but I had none of Proud Rebel. Which is lame, cuz it’s really good. I’m glad I can watch and appreciate it now, at least!

    Thanks for contributing this to the blogathon 🙂

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    • Yes, she is. 🙂 There aren’t that many great female characters in westerns as there could be (I find that they’re often used as a plot device, almost), but Linnett is one of my favorites.

      Interesting! I can almost always remember if I’ve seen a movie or not, but then, I’m only in my teens. 🙂

      What can I say, except ‘you’re welcome’? 😉

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      • This is the trouble with having watched thousands of movies. I mean, I watched about 2 a week all through high school, 5+ a week all through college, about 4 a week for the first 5 years of marriage, and then maybe one a week for the last 15 years… that’s like 3,000 movies. Granted, a lot of those were repeats, but still. There are a lot of movies that I know I’ve seen, but remember basically nothing about. There are others I have entirely forgotten ever seeing. Which is why I try to record every time I watch a movie or TV show or read a book in my journals. I know I can’t and won’t remember them all.

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  2. I’ve seen this film only one time, but I really loved it! My grandfather recommended it to me, so I knew that I would enjoy the film before even watching it.

    Now that I think about it, I have to agree that Linnet is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever seen in a western. That’s interesting actually because now that I think about it, I seem to have grouped western ladies into one small category in my head. In regards to westerns, I tend to pay attention more to the male characters than the female characters. Well… one time I did pay more attention to a female character, and it was Joanne Dru in Red River (1948) because her character annoyed me.

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    • Another great female character of the western genre are Maddie Ross (‘True Grit’). And there are several good ones in Louis L’Amour books, too, though he tends to be misogynist at times.

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      • I love Maddie Ross!!! Oh my goodness, she is like a model for me… in a way. I don’t think I would want to be vengeful like her (wanting to see her father’s murderer dead) because I would want to act like a Christian, but she is still inspiring to me. She says one thing in the 1969 film about alcohol. “I will not let a thief into my mouth to steal my brains.” Sorry, but I really love that quote because that is exactly why I would not want to drink alcohol. I think it’s ok once in a while like at Christmas and other special days, but not on a daily basis.

        I really need to read mroe Louis L’Amour. I really want to read “The Cherokee Trail”, but my library doesn’t have it. 😦

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    • ‘Old Yeller’ is one of those movies that can always make me at least tear up, despite my dislike of dogs (though I think I’m more opposed to dogs in real life than dogs on-screen).

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