Band of Angels (1957): Gable Stars with Sidney Poitier in Civil War Film, Directed by Raoul Walsh

Warner

Made toward the end of Clark Gable’s career (and life), this entertaining melodrama, directed by Raoul Walsh, bears some thematic resemblance to “Gone With the Wind,” in dealing with issues of race and miscegenation, set against the backdrop of the Civil war.
Well-cast, Gable plays a reformed slave trader named Hamish Bond, who maintains a plantation outside New Orleans
One day he spots a beautiful girl, Amantha Starr (Yvonne de Carlo), who’s put up for auction. She is the daughter of a supposedly wealthy Kentucky planter.   But after her father’s death, Amantha discovers that he has left her many debts. More importantly, she realizes that her mother was a black slave and that, according to the customs, she is classified as a slave.
About to be sold in order to discharge her father’s debts, she is horrified and degraded at the treatment she receives. The trader buys her for $5000, because of a guilt complex about being a former slaver. 
Before, he has already reared the strong-willed slave, Rau-Ru (Sidney Poitier) and also educated him. Hamish doesn’t relegate the proud Amantha to slave quarters but treats her as a lady in his household.
When the Civil War breaks out, Rau-Ru joins the North in hatred of the trader. New Orleans is finally taken and when Rau-Ru confronts his former benefactor and the girl, he plans to turn them in. But he relents, and with his help, Hamish and Amantha escape together.
At the time, the film stirred some controversy because of its interracial love story between a white man and a part-black girl, though no one mentioned the fact that age-wise, Gable could be De Carlo’s father.
It would take another decade before the public would become more accepting to such an issue, in films like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” in which Sidney Poitier courts and marries a white girl.
Cast:
Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney Poitier, Zfrem Zimbalist, Jr., Patric Knowles, Rex Reason, Torin Thatcher, Andrea King, Ray Teal, Russ Evans, Carole Drake, Raymond Bailey, Tommie Moore, William Forrest, Noreen Corcoran.
Credits:
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Screenplay by John Twist, Ivan Goff and Be Roberts, based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren.
Cinematography by Lucien Ballard.
Art Director: Franz Bachelin.
Music by Max Steiner.
Orchestration by Murray Cutter.
Editor: Folmar Blangsted.
Release date: August 3, 1957.
Running time: 127 minutes.

 

 

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