Friday, January 14, 2011

Radio review – CP#52 – “Rabble in Arms” (1940) **1/2

Based on a novel by Kenneth Roberts, author of Northwest Passage – this is another historical piece centering around a flawed figure in American revolutionary history, in this case Benedict Arnold. The novel – along with many of Roberts’ works – was edited by Booth Tarkington, who wrote Magnificent Ambersons

It’s all fairly restrained and sober, with Welles underplaying as Benedict Arnold; it’s also a bit dull, to be honest, although it’s interesting to hear Welles take on history (he often played historical figures when working in an actor-only capacity, but it never seemed to interest him that much as a director). Frances Dee plays the female lead.

The story is concerned with Arnold's actions at the beginning of the war, i.e. his heroism at the Battle of Saratoga before he turned traitor. He's not even that big a character though - the guts of the story concerns two brothers who fight in the Revolution. Its interesting rather than engrossing; Welles isn't in it that much, a kind of fore-runner to the cameo performances as Famous Man In History he would later become known for in the 50s and 60s.

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