The Battle of New Orleans the Hollywood Way

American history tends to be ignored by Hollywood and therefore it is unusual for a battle to receive treatment in a Hollywood feature film. It is doubly unusual for a battle to be treated in two Hollywood feature films, but that is the case for the battle of New Orleans. The 1938 film The Buccaneer was directed by the legendary Cecil B. Demille and had Frederic March, an actor largely forgotten today but a major star in his time, as Jean Lafitte. Two future stars have bit parts in the film: Anthony Quinn and Walter Brennan. Hugh Sothern who portrayed Andrew Jackson would also portray Jackson in 1939 in the film Old Hickory.

 The 1958 remake was also to have been directed by Cecille B. DeMille, but he was seriously ill at that time, and relegated himself to the role of executive producer, turning the director’s chair over to Anthony Quinn, his then son-in-law, the one and only film that Quinn ever directed. DeMille was unhappy with the film and it received fairly negative reviews, although I think the battle sequences are superior to the first film. Yul Brynner plays Jean Lafitte and Charlton Heston is a commanding Andrew Jackson. Like Hugh Sothern, Heston would portray Jackson twice, the first time being in The President’s Lady (1953), the tale of the great love story of Rachel Jackson (Susan Hayward) and Andrew Jackson. Future stars in this version include Inger Stevens, Claire Bloom and Lorne Green. Adequate coverage of the battle is given in each film, although not much detail. The battle of course is merely an adjunct to the romantic tale of Jean Lafitte. Without the pirate turned patriot, I am certain the battle of New Orleans would have likely received the same indifference that Hollywood has shown for most of American history.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for that; I’m always up for something about the Battle of New Orleans.

    The truly sad point about this battle is that the standard in American schools is to teach that it didn’t mean anything because of the Treaty of Ghent being “agreed to” the previous December. The fact, of course, is that the Treaty of Ghent was not ratified by the U.S. congress until later in January of 1815 and only after the British Possession Codicil was removed from the Treaty. If Jackson and his backwoods rabble hadn’t triumphed at New Orleans, the British would have taken control of the Mississippi. Bad news for the young U.S.

  2. Quite right Pauline. Additionally, the lop sided victory of Jackson and his men also gave the Brits something to ponder in future controversies with the US and, I think, helped persuade them that war with the US would definitely not be a good idea.

  3. […] battle of New Orleans is famous for launching Andrew Jackson on his eventual road to the White House.  Almost forgotten […]


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: