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Un lâche (1915) HD online

Un lâche (1915) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama / History / War
Original Title: The Coward
Director: Reginald Barker,Thomas H. Ince
Writers: Thomas H. Ince,Thomas H. Ince
Released: 1915
Budget: $18,000
Duration: 1h 17min
Video type: Movie
Confederate soldier Frank Winslow is terrified of the war and eventually runs away from battle. But when he finds himself behind enemy lines with vital information, he must decide between his fear and his conscience.
Cast overview:
Frank Keenan Frank Keenan - Col. Jefferson Beverly Winslow
Charles Ray Charles Ray - Frank Winslow
Gertrude Claire Gertrude Claire - Mrs. Elizabeth Winslow
Patricia Palmer Patricia Palmer - Amy (as Margaret Gibson)
Nick Cogley Nick Cogley - A Negro Servant
Charles K. French Charles K. French - A Confederate Commander
Minnie Devereaux Minnie Devereaux - Mammy (as Minnie Provost)

Both leading "black" characters in the film are not played by African-Americans. The role of the "Mammy" is played by Minnie Devereaux, a Canadian-born Native American. The role of the "Negro Servant" is played by white actor Nick Cogley. Both actors performed their roles in "blackface".

This Civil War era melodrama was filmed and released just 50 years after the end of the Civil War - when several Civil War veterans would have still been alive.



Reviews: [15]

  • avatar

    Runehammer

    The DVD "Civil War Films of the Silent Era" has three Thomas Ince productions on it-- the highly successful 1915 feature The Coward, starring Charles Ray and Frank Keenan (Keenan Wynn's grandfather, incidentally, and at times you can definitely tell), plus two shorts from 1913, Granddad and The Drummer of the 8th. The former is directed by Reginald Barker, who I daresay is the only director most of us could associate with Triangle (he directed The Italian, Civilization, several Hart westerns, etc.)

    It's pretty tough not to compare a 1915 film about the South to a certain D.W. Griffith film, and on the evidence Barker was highly capable and in some ways more fluid in his storytelling than Griffith, but didn't have Griffith's eye for the iconic actorly gesture that summed up character in a flash. There's nothing flashy about the on-screen agonizing that represents the delineation of character here, which is well acted for the period but takes literally a third of the movie to get across a fairly simple setup-- Dad (Keenan) is a proud Suthanah and gennelmun, Son (Ray) is a weakling who runs away from the enlisting office, and Dad orders Son to sign up and remembah that he is a Winslow, suh. There's a lot of knuckle-biting to get to that point.

    Once Ray deserts the movie picks up noticeably, and the action scenes are very nicely handled-- the manner in which Ray eludes capture in his own house is ingenious and nicely in character for someone who was a boy in the home, for instance. Watching it there are enough echoes of The General-- the enlistment opening, spying from beneath a table, etc.-- that you have to think that Keaton was drawing on memories of it, even if unconsciously. The battle scenes are fairly brief but impressively scaled (especially next to those in the shorts-- it's much like the difference in scale between the battle in The Battle of Elderbush Gulch and The Birth).

    But perhaps most interesting is what's missing-- The Birth's racial attitudes. This is much closer to Gone With the Wind's benevolent-paternalist view of master-slave relations, and while a definite air of Old South nostalgia/apologia fills the film, it feels right, for instance, that when Ray first sneaks into his home as a deserter, it's the servants who probably really raised him who take him in and try to ease the discovery of his action by his parents. (Of course, they may also have approved of desertion from the Confederate army...)
  • avatar

    Adrietius

    The simple and, by now, oft-told tale of a son who fears that he cannot live up to the high standards of his father may have been fresher in 1915 than it seems today. However, viewers of early silent films should put themselves into the perspective of the times and relish a Civil War story that was filmed while many in the audience could still remember the actual war. The Civil War took place only 50 years before "The Coward" was made, which is approximately the same time span between World War II and "Saving Private Ryan." A fresh-looking Charles Ray portrays Frank Winslow, the son of a proud and unyielding Southern gentleman, and his performance is the most naturalistic of the small cast. A handsome young man with an appropriately innocent demeanor, Ray manages to convey his ambivalence about resisting enlistment in the Confederate Army, a move that will alienate him from his stern father, who insists that his son uphold the family honor. Bowing to his father's orders and threats, the young man joins the army, where he makes a fateful decision. Although subsequent events play out as anyone could predict, viewer interest never lags because the film is tight and decently paced.

    Unfortunately, much of the cast, especially Frank Keenan as the father, are either stiff or overly emotive in their roles, which makes Ray that much more appealing in contrast. Characteristic of the times, white actors in black face play the two household slaves. While the condition of the print makes evaluation of the cinematography difficult, the interior scenes for the most part betray the flimsy sets that were used. However, the exterior shots, especially the brief battle scenes, are convincing and effective.

    "The Coward" is an amiable film with a well-worn plot and is likely typical of silent films that were produced prior to the 1920's. While neither a work of art nor even the best of its era, the film offers an interesting glimpse of what entertained moviegoers during the years before World War I.
  • avatar

    Nten

    This interesting period melodrama ties together several themes, and generally succeeds in examining them during the course of the story. Neither of the most prominent characters (the father and son) are especially sympathetic, and yet the story is such that it involves your emotions for both of them, even when their actions are discreditable.

    The 'coward' of the title is the son of a retired colonel, whose father insists that he enlist in the Confederate Army when the Civil War begins. "The Coward", like an earlier Thomas Ince feature, "Drummer Boy of the 8th", depicts the unfounded mass excitement that accompanied the outbreak of war, this time on the other side. Here, the son is practically the only one not filled with enthusiasm for the South's war effort. The crisis comes later on when the 'coward' is the only one who knows a piece of vital information.

    The story that develops features several interesting turns, and it brings out various points not only about bravery and duty, but about family relationships and other themes. Some aspects of its perspective may seem a little odd now, but it presents its ideas believably and without overstatement.

    Both the action sequences and the confrontations between father and son are often given Ince's attentiveness to detail and composition. Whether intentional or not, in a number of the family scenes the characters' movements are particularly deliberate, with the effect of drawing out their sometimes uncomfortable conversations, and thus increasing the tension. There is also quite a contrast established between the very civilized study in which the father repeatedly lectures his son, and the brutal tactics that he uses to get his son to do his bidding.

    Civil War features were quite popular in this era, and there are others that are better remembered, but this movie has several strengths, and it provides a slightly different perspective of its own.
  • avatar

    Hellstaff

    "The Coward," a 1915 silent era Civil War flick, was designed, written and directed to be enjoyable North and South of Messrs. Mason and Dixon's line. Today it's a curiosity piece both as entertainment and as history (I'm showing it in a few weeks in my law school legal history seminar, "Slavery, the Constitution and the Civil War." Our un-hero is a finely turned out Southern lad, popular with the demure lassies and scion to the small but well-kept estate of a former colonel. The fellow lives with his parents and their two devoted slaves, a cook and a sort of valet-butler.

    The call to arms, to defend the South (the South was invaded?), comes and the boy heads to the recruiting station where his contemporaries are eagerly lining up to doff formal attire and don uniforms. He chickens out, goes home and confesses to Pa that's he's chicken. No, thunders dad, no member of our family can be a coward. Get thee back and sign up.

    He does so but at the first sign of danger, while on picket duty, he deserts and skedaddles home. Mommy embraces him, the slaves try to hide him and Pa has a royal fit when he finds his worthless, gutless offspring gulping down milk and cookies in the kitchen.

    Determined to salvage family honor, Pa enlists as a private, replacing his son. Meanwhile, Union officers have occupied the family home and a hiding in the attic deserter overhears their battle plans. Guess how the story develops from there.

    A tale of honor cravenly lost and then heroically redeemed, "The Coward" is the kind of satisfying melodrama that early moviegoers loved. The actors magnify their facial expressions to compensate for silently mouthed dialog.

    Southerners watching "The Coward" could bask in the family loyalty to the Confederacy and the pliant, loving submission of slaves. Northerners saw an honorable foe whose forces but not spirit could be beaten.

    A neat relic from the vaults of the silents.

    8/10
  • avatar

    Agamaginn

    In 1861, the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, Virginia's young men sign up by the hundreds to fight for the Confederacy. Plantation owner Frank Keenan (as Jefferson Beverly Winslow) wants to fight alongside handsome son Charles Ray (as Frank Winslow). Mr. Keenan is rejected as too old, but expects his son will enlist. Not so fast. Overcome with fear and dread, Mr. Ray gets cold feet at the recruiting station. Yes, he is "The Coward". So, disgraced war veteran father Keenan signs Ray up… at gunpoint!

    While on "picket duty" patrol, Ray is startled by wild animals, and goes AWOL. Running home to stately "Winslow Hall", he is comforted by gentle-mother Gertrude Claire (as Betty) and the family's domesticated slaves. When papa Keenan finds out his son has deserted the Confederate Army, he flies into a rage, exclaiming, "Why was I ever born to be the father of a coward?" while Ray shamefully sobs. Later, when Yankee soldiers invade his home, Ray gets a second chance to prove his mettle...

    With D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" (released earlier in 1915) setting box offices on fire, this shorter Civil War epic was made to order; it also resembled Griffith's "The Battle" (1911) and others. An acclaimed stage actor, Frank Kennan had his name above co-star Charles Ray. Both men became screen stars with "The Coward" - but Ray quickly shot past his illustrious elder. Ray's performance in "The Coward" is excellent, and was recalled as an example of the decade's best acting (it still is).

    Keenan (grandfather of character actor Keenan Wynn), Ms. Claire, and Patricia Palmer (as Amy) show degrees of "stagy".

    The "Quigley Poll" of top ten money-making stars for the year 1916 (which took "The Coward" into account) debuted Keenan at #10. In 1917, Ray debuted at #8, one above Keenan, who subsequently left the poll. From then on, Ray was found in the upper half of the exhibitors' list, complied by Quigley Publications from 1915 to the present. Ray was a million-dollar super-star until pouring his fortune into his own production company, which famously flopped with "The Courtship of Miles Standish" (1923).

    ******** The Coward (10/3/15) Thomas H. Ince : Reginald Barker ~ Charles Ray, Frank Kennan, Gertrude Claire, Margaret Gibson
  • avatar

    Getaianne

    A story of the old code of family honor at the dawn of the Cibil War and the way that reluctance to throw one's life away was treated with disgrace and exile. The acting is overwrought by today's standard but mixed in with the exaggeration are some bits of touching human emotion.

    Seeing as the film is now one hundred years old and was made about facts that at that point were only fifty years in the past the film makers were able to have a perspective on events that is impossible to us now. As such this is a precious piece of cinema.

    As a movie it's a hoary old chestnut but as an historical document it's fascinating. The damage to the print actually adds to the feeling that you're watching a series of Matthew Brady daguerreotypes come to life.
  • avatar

    Fordredor

    I think a lot of the impact of this early silence feature film is lost today, but more about that later in the review. When it was released in 1915, attitudes about plot and drama were very different than today. Predictability was expected from movies and what we would consider over-acting was the norm. Also, having white folks run around in black face playing slaves was, unfortunately, pretty widely accepted. And so, by 1915 standards, this is an exceptional movie and one of the earliest full-length films ever made. I think it is a lot better than its much-admired contemporary, BIRTH OF A NATION--which is ponderously long and one of the most racist films made in America. Unfortunately for the makers of this film, people in 1915 preferred BIRTH OF A NATION and it went on to make a ton of money and was hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. That's really a shame, because there are some exceptional aspects to this film that have been overlooked. In particular, the costumes and battle sequences are excellent (though not quite as grand as those in BIRTH OF A NATION) and the story, though very simplistic and predictable, is still compelling. And, its use of two white folks in black makeup, though appalling, is not nearly as offensive as about 90% of the other film.

    Now, as for today's audiences, the plot is very very dusty to say the least. Having the son be afraid of war and deserting was excellent, but the contrived way that his own father accidentally shoots and kills him in battle is so over-the-top dramatically (though not in its day). BUT, it is STILL worth seeing for its historical value. Not a great or memorable film, but one of the most watchable of the early feature-length films.
  • avatar

    Fohuginn

    Coward, The (1915)

    *** (out of 4)

    One of the handful of Civil War films that were rushed into production and released after D.W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION became what's probably the biggest hit of all time. This film here deals with Confederate soldier Frank Winslow (Charles Ray) who is terrified of the war and runs away as a battle is about to begin. His father (Frank Keenan) is a decorated soldier and is embarrassed why his son so he pretty much turns his back on him but soon the son is going to have a chance to redeem himself. There's no doubt that this thing isn't in the same league as the Griffith film but at the same time it's still a pretty good little picture. I think the most interesting this is the actual story because it's pretty much saying you're worthless if you're scared to die for your country. I think the film goes a bit too dramatic during the relationship of the son and father. This relationship includes a sequence where the father loads his pistol to shoot the son if he doesn't enlist in the war and even follows him to the enlistment office and again threatens to shoot him. I found the father character to be rather laughable and he'll certainly go down in history as the most pathetic father I've seen in a movie. The jerk is that bad and we get a sequence towards the end where the son might be dying and the father refuses to say he knows the kid. One major plus for the film are the costumes, which all look like they're real. The battle scenes aren't nearly as grand as the one in the Griffith film but they still look pretty good on their own. The performance by Ray is actually pretty good as he does a nice job at showing fear as his character goes through quite a bit here. The pain from his father's rejection is also something else the actor handles quite well. Keenan, on the other hand, is downright awful here. You'll never see me bashing silent acting because it is what it was at the time. I think it's unfair to bash acting from 1910 because it's not like the acting we see today or saw in the 30s or 40s. However, Keenan's acting appears to be coming from the 1620s. Just take a look at how slowly he moves no matter what his character is doing. I'd swear on my life that he moves slower than a zombie. If he goes to raise his hand it takes a good fifteen-seconds. If he goes to turn around that's probably twenty-seconds. If he goes to stand up it's probably thirty-seconds. You get the point. The movie runs 77-minutes but if Keenan would move at a normal speed we'd probably be looking at a movie under an hour. Even with that bad performance there's still enough to make fans of the silent era check this thing out. It's certainly not a classic or a masterpiece but it's an interesting story with a fine lead performance and some great outfits. The film shares a lot in common with Griffith's THE HOUSE WITH CLOSED SHUTTERS.
  • avatar

    Thordibandis

    "The Coward" should be seen in order to disprove the oft-made point that film acting in the early 20th century was overdone. The young and fresh-faced Charles Ray, who steals this Civil War melodrama from then-veterans Frank Keenan (a dead ringer for Mark Twain) and Gertrude Clair, was one of the most naturally appealing young male actors of his time, and recognized as such by contemporary audiences and critics. Few of his films have survived, and luckily this rather well preserved relic contains generous helpings of his talent and magnetism. Sadly, his career petered out in the 1920s.

    There is little of general interest, however, in this simple but overly drawn-out Civil War story of a young man (Ray) whose soldier father (Keenan) forces him at gunpoint to enlist in the Confederate Army for the sake of family honor, if nothing else. There follows a melodrama of desertion, heroism and redemption which could have been told in about 30 minutes if some of the close-ups had been kept to a realistic length, but this was 1915 and cinema audiences apparently needed 60 seconds or so to identify an emotional state from an on screen face.

    Some of the indoor scenes bear the telltale sign of having been shot outdoors to take advantage of the natural light (in a parlor scene Keenan's cigar smoke rushes away from his face and the dining room table cloth flutters in the breeze).

    Keenan's performance, mostly slow-motion gestures and smoldering glares, seems bizarre by today's standards, but it can't be his fault because the camera and editing are obviously cooperating.

    As usual for the era, house slaves are played by white actors in blackface.
  • avatar

    Black_Hawk_Down.

    Charles Ray's first picture at Triangle with producer Thomas Ince, The Coward (1915), today seems trite and badly overacted despite its star-making status at the time. Frank Keenan (made up to look like a human gargoyle, especially in close-ups) as Colonel Jefferson Winslow volunteers both himself and his son in the cause of the Confederacy, but he is rejected because of his age. His son, played by Ray, is in love and painfully aware of his own cowardice, only enlisting as his father points a gun at him. During sentry duty, he panics and runs home.

    Old Colonel Winslow takes the son's place to redeem the family honor. However, when the Yankees occupy Winslow's home town and the son overhears their military plans, he makes a risky escape back to the Confederate camp to inform the general. It is the father's own bullet which fells the son as he passes through the lines, and the general must unite the reluctant father with his son who has made victory possible.

    Much of the insight into the inner experience and the emotion of the "soul-fight" (as critics referred to this aspect of the drama at the time) was achieved through camera angle and cutting. The battle scenes include none of the principles and appear to have been shot separately; the negative cost of the five or six reel production was $17,922.

    Ray recalled that the role was so unsympathetic that no one wanted to be cast in the unheroic part, but he begged for it. "I worked so hard over that Coward that he just couldn't help being real. I dreamed him and lived him and for the time being, I was not Charles Ray—I was that boy." The match of the stage veteran Keenan with the youthful Ray, who actually had more screen experience, was so popular that the pair reappeared in subsequent father-son pairings.

    Ray's success was to make him type-cast; he could not leave a certain type of role because of adverse public reaction. As he noted, "After that, I played cowards for a year. People in this business seem to think that because you make a hit in a character once, you should never stop playing it." He typically played a young weakling or a deserter, who is redeemed but often dies in the process. William S. Hart's characters for Ince followed a similar trajectory, but begin at a different point: the strong, mature man who has taken the wrong way in life and must find his way back. The Coward also became one of the best-remembered examples of the Civil War cycle in Thomas Ince's productions, as I outline in my Ince biography.
  • avatar

    Chilldweller

    I watched "The Coward" because, as a huge Buster Keaton fan, I wanted to see a movie he'd likely been spoofing bits of in "The General". I don't know how it looked to audiences of 1915, but to a modern audience, "The Coward" often looks like a spoof itself.

    Charles Ray portrays Frank Winslow, the stately and handsome son of proud former Colonel Jefferson Beverly Winslow (Frank Keenan). The Colonel is an amiable enough husband, showing his wife genuine affection, but he's a steadfast old soldier as well, with no patience for those who don't eagerly rush off to battle. Frank, more a lover than a fighter, is scared witless at the idea of being cannon fodder. He tries to screw up the courage to enlist, like everyone else is gaily doing, but his nerve fails him and he goes home, confessing his fear to his white-haired mother. Dear old Dad considers this such a blow to the family honor that he pulls out a pistol and makes it pretty plain to Frank that the alternative to being shot at by Yankees on the battlefield is being plugged between the eyes by his father at home.

    To say the acting is overblown is understatement. Dad's reactions to his son look more like symptoms of neurological problems than they resemble human emotion -- alternating between clenched-teeth catatonia and a sort of standing petit-mal seizure. If he was a dog, you'd shoot him.

    It's fun to see the bits Keaton played with in "The General" -- the enlistment office scene, tossing away the picture of the disgraced young 'un, hiding under the tablecloth, stealing a uniform to sneak past the enemy. It's worth watching for that alone. And some of the affectionate moments between the Colonel and his wife were refreshing. But I'd not give it a second viewing.
  • avatar

    Dianalmeena

    It's always interesting to watch silent movies, if only to see how overdone the acting tends to be. With only a few scattered printed titles, the story depends on the actors' ability to project emotions. They usually give it their all. They certainly do in this film.

    It's the beginning of the Civil War and all the Southern men of Cotton Creek are enlisting except Charles Ray, who decides to skip the war and hide at home among the women, the darkies, and his rigid old man. No Achilles he. He's not sulking, just scared to death and he knows it, and soon everybody else does too. His proud father, an ex colonel, played by Frank Keenan, forces Ray to enlist at gunpoint. Keenan's performance is something to behold. With every move, every change of facial expression, he seems struggling to overcome an advanced stage of rigor mortis.

    The story itself could have come from an early John Wayne Western. Ray deserts the army but redeems himself, just as the Young Man did in "The Red Badge of Courage." The South wins, with the help of the loyal slaves who tend the Big House. There is really only one battle scene, and it looks as if the budget was generous but it's confusingly edited. We know the Confederates won because a title tells us so. Some of the scenes are really slowly paced. We get the point long before the scene ends.

    Southern values usually prevail in these movies, whether it's Buster Keaton or "The Birth of a Nation". When they fail, it's shown as a tragedy, as in "Gone With the Wind." Some regional resentment still exists in the South, unlike Germany, a country in which WWII never happened. The South was settled by Cavaliers, not the Puritans of the North, and the Cavaliers brought their culture of honor with them. When something happened, you settled the score yourself. You didn't go squealing to a central government.

    Jefferson Davis had a hell of a time ruling the Confederacy. There were so many challenges to duels that he had to be careful to post his officers far apart from their enemies. And he had to depend on states to provide volunteer troops. He couldn't draft anyone because the whole point of the Confederacy was states rights and a weak central government. That's what a "confederacy" is -- a kind of gentleman's agreement to cooperate.

    In the Northern state, Charles Ray would simply have been drafted unless his father was rich enough to pay a few hundred dollars for a substitute.
  • avatar

    Flarik

    Ince had nothing to reproach himself for with regard to Giffith. He had already produced and directed a lavish and highly successful civil war epic two years before A Birth of a Nation - The Battle of Gettysburg (sadly now lost). It was a subject he had made very much his own also in a series of fine shorts in the early teens. Unfortunately by 1915 he was seemingly producing rather more than directing and relying heavily on Reginald Barker.

    Around 1914-1915 there develop in US film an irksome fashion for the overuse of the close-up and the close medium-shot. There is nothing old-fashioned about it per se (it is in fact one of the consequences of the increasing dominance of Griffith-style editing) but it was retrogressive in encouraging a revival of "the facial", the old vaudeville technique of concentrating on facial expressions to express different emotions and this comeback of the facial (quite common in very early shorts) in dramatic films at this time is a serious error and quite contrary to Ince's own earlier directorial style. It was entirely typical of Barker and is even worse in The Italian which came out the same year (reviewed separately). It encouraged an increase in melodrama (which one sees equally in the films of Griffith) at the expense of any broader context.

    As regards the theme, too, it is false to see this "paternalistic" view as in any way opposed to the racist notions of Dixon and Griffith. This is to confuse attitudes towards the ante-bellum and the post-bellum situations. It is in a fact absolutely a continuation of their "revisionist" view (in reaction essentially to the popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin which expressed a much darker view of Southern slave-owning) and so for that matter is Mitchell's later Gone with the Wind. It was a view that established itself firmly at precisely this time (see the difference between the 1914 and 1927 versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin) and was entirely a piece with the racist views of Dixon and Griffith and the contemporaneous refounding of the Ku Klux Klan.

    As for the war than, that does not even have the virtue of originality. Novels and films about cowards nearly always follow broadly the same pattern and there had been plenty of them. Quite apart from the A. E. W. Mason classic The Four Feathers (filmed by Dawley for Metro in this same year) and the 1910 Griffith film The House with Closed Shutters (which has considerably more originality), this film also resembles an earlier Ince production, the 1913 short Silent Heroes (directed by Walter Edwards).

    So here we have fashionable neo-melodramatic acting and fashionable ante-bellum nostalgia for a slave-owning society and a highly unoriginal story - a long way from the sharper, more thoughtful work that Ince himself was capable of.

    It would be wrong however to equate this style or these attitudes with early film in general. They are quite specific to the US and that taste for "satisfying melodrama" has changed very little over the years.

    For the completely opposite tendency stylistically compare with the contemporary Russian films of Yevgeny Bauer. Bauer was notorious for not allowing his actors to act, in other words for forbidding them to make facial grimaces and grand gestures. For Bauer, one of the first genuine geniuses of the cinema, the work was done not by the actors but by the camera and the mise en scène. In essence this notion was at the origin of what later came to be called "the Kuleshov effect" (Lev Kuleshov was originally Bauer's décorateur). Later it became associated with Soviet "montage" but the important element, what you might call the principle of "non-acting" had already been promulgated by Bauer.
  • avatar

    Vivados

    The first half of this Civil War story is very conventional stuff, in which in a wave of patriotic fervour - and to impress the chicks - the young men of Virginia head for the local enlistment point to join the Confederate army. Our hero Frank Winslow, however, promptly thinks better of it, sneaks off and returns home, only to be smartly marched back at gunpoint to enlist by his Pappy, retired Colonel Jefferson Beverly Winslow.

    So far so predictable; and told as stiffly as the spine of Colonel Winslow (who as played by Frank Keenan frequently resembles a tailor's dummy). But the film now starts to lighten up and even develop a funny bone. The rustlings in the undergrowth of the local wildlife during Junior's first night on guard duty spook him so much he drops his rifle and scarpers for home again, provoking Pappy into the incredible decision to take Junior's place in his regiment. Nobody in Junior's regiment notices that his father has replaced him; while at that very moment by remarkable coincidence a bunch of brusque Yankee officers billet themselves on the Winslow estate, discuss their latest plan of attack loudly enough for Junior hiding fearfully in the room above to overhear them and - galvanised by the knowledge that he holds the fate of his company in his hands - he finally find his mojo and leaps into action.

    Frank gets away from the house in a sight gag worthy of Keaton and - some pretty spectacular battle footage later - Father & Son are reunited, the Winslows' family honour is restored and the South is saved. For now.
  • avatar

    Morad

    At most, this might lead you to appreciate the watershed brilliance of "The Birth of a Nation". Another 1915 feature-length film set during the American Civil War, "The Coward" is an isolated melodrama, in lieu of scope or scale, with only one or two comparatively small skirmishes, affecting, in whole, neither interest or controversy. Most similar between the two films is probably their theatricality--the staginess of camera placement and missing walls, the way of storytelling and the histrionic acting. There are a few rather nice looking shots in this film, actually, but the entire picture is poorly crafted and choppy at times. The story of a father forcing his coward son at gunpoint to enlist for the Confederate army--and so on--is forgettable. Perhaps suitable on stage, Frank Keenan's rigor mortis stances and facial contouring are so out of place its laughable. Poor commemoration for Ince.

    (Note: The print I saw is in poor shape in parts--possibly causing some of the choppiness.)