Seven Angry Men (1955)

90-91 mins | Drama | March 1955

Full page view
HISTORY

The film's working titles were John Brown's Raiders , God's Angry Men and God's Angry Man . According to an unidentified Feb 1953 news item, Arthur Orloff was originally hired to write the film's story, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined. John Brown (1800--1859), a Mayflower descendent, was violently opposed to slavery. During the 1820s and 1830s, his home was a station on the Underground Railroad, which helped runaway slaves. In 1851, Brown organized an armed band of black soldiers to aid runaway slaves. When Kansas was opened for settlement in 1854, Brown and five of his sons moved to the new territory to fight for a free Kansas. He organized a guerrilla band, whose most notorious act was the Osawatomie massacre on 24 May 1856, when five pro-slavery men were killed.
       On 16 Oct 1859, Brown led a group of twenty-one men, including five blacks and his sons Oliver and Watson, in an attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, which was then a part of Virginia. With the arms, he planned to equip slaves whom he believed would join him eagerly. Local slaves did not join the revolt, and after two days, during which his two sons were killed, and he was wounded, Brown surrendered to Col. Robert E. Lee. Contrary to Brown's hopes, the raid aided Southern extremists in their fight for secession from the United States. Immediately after he was hanged on 2 Dec 1859, Brown became a folk hero. The folk song "John Brown's Body," which used the same melody as "The Battle Hymn of the ... More Less

The film's working titles were John Brown's Raiders , God's Angry Men and God's Angry Man . According to an unidentified Feb 1953 news item, Arthur Orloff was originally hired to write the film's story, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined. John Brown (1800--1859), a Mayflower descendent, was violently opposed to slavery. During the 1820s and 1830s, his home was a station on the Underground Railroad, which helped runaway slaves. In 1851, Brown organized an armed band of black soldiers to aid runaway slaves. When Kansas was opened for settlement in 1854, Brown and five of his sons moved to the new territory to fight for a free Kansas. He organized a guerrilla band, whose most notorious act was the Osawatomie massacre on 24 May 1856, when five pro-slavery men were killed.
       On 16 Oct 1859, Brown led a group of twenty-one men, including five blacks and his sons Oliver and Watson, in an attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, which was then a part of Virginia. With the arms, he planned to equip slaves whom he believed would join him eagerly. Local slaves did not join the revolt, and after two days, during which his two sons were killed, and he was wounded, Brown surrendered to Col. Robert E. Lee. Contrary to Brown's hopes, the raid aided Southern extremists in their fight for secession from the United States. Immediately after he was hanged on 2 Dec 1859, Brown became a folk hero. The folk song "John Brown's Body," which used the same melody as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," became one of the Civil War's marching songs, and Stephen Vincent Benet wrote an epic poem of the same name in 1929. Some scholars have speculated that Brown was insane, but this has not been proven.
       Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter were borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production, and Larry Pennell was borrowed from Paramount. A 17 Sep 1954 HR news item includes Patrick Waltz in the cast, but his appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. Modern sources include Hank Mann in the cast. Raymond Massey also played John Brown in the 1941 Warner Bros. picture Santa Fe Trail (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). In 1954, Massey, Anne Baxter and Tyrone Power toured with a stage show depicting the incident at Harpers Ferry. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Mar 1955.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jul 1954.
---
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1955.
---
Daily Variety
7 Mar 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Mar 55
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
12 Mar 55
p. 42.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1954
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1954
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1954
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1954
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 1955
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Mar 55
p. 361.
New York Times
2 Apr 55
p. 15.
The Exhibitor
23 Mar 55
p. 3937.
Variety
9 Mar 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const supv
Props
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Rec eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Set cont
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
God's Angry Man
God's Angry Men
John Brown's Raiders
Release Date:
March 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Osawatomie, KS: 30 March 1955
Production Date:
21 September--13 October 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 March 1955
Copyright Number:
LP4450
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
90-91
Length(in feet):
8,261
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1856, settlers in the Kansas Territory face an election to determine if Kansas will join the Union as a slave or a free state. To help ensure its entry as a free state, abolitionist John Brown has come from Ohio with his sons, John, Jr., Frederick, Salmon and Jason. Later, Brown's sons Owen and Oliver travel to join the others. On the train to Kansas, Owen meets Elizabeth Clark, who expresses her belief that his notorious father is a dangerous man. Some time later, Rev. White, the leader of opposition forces known as the Border Ruffians, approaches Brown's settlement and orders the black and white settlers to leave the territory in forty-eight hours. During a raid by the Ruffians on the town of Lawrence, Elizabeth's father, along with four others, is killed. Proclaiming that "the war has begun," Brown marshals his men. After kidnapping some of the men who have been identified as participating in the raid, Brown summarily executes five of them, citing the biblical command to exact "an eye for an eye." His actions sicken John, Jr., and fearing for his sanity, Jason decides to turn himself and his brother over to the Union army. Later Frederick, horrified by the morning's events, also decides to leave. Owen, however, remains despite Elizabeth's accusation that he has become a murderer like his father. Frederick is later killed at his campsite, and the Ruffians attack and burn the settlement. After Owen is seriously wounded during the attack, Elizabeth overcomes Brown's disapproval to nurse him back to health. In the meantime, Brown orders the discouraged settlers to rebuild the settlement, so ... +


In 1856, settlers in the Kansas Territory face an election to determine if Kansas will join the Union as a slave or a free state. To help ensure its entry as a free state, abolitionist John Brown has come from Ohio with his sons, John, Jr., Frederick, Salmon and Jason. Later, Brown's sons Owen and Oliver travel to join the others. On the train to Kansas, Owen meets Elizabeth Clark, who expresses her belief that his notorious father is a dangerous man. Some time later, Rev. White, the leader of opposition forces known as the Border Ruffians, approaches Brown's settlement and orders the black and white settlers to leave the territory in forty-eight hours. During a raid by the Ruffians on the town of Lawrence, Elizabeth's father, along with four others, is killed. Proclaiming that "the war has begun," Brown marshals his men. After kidnapping some of the men who have been identified as participating in the raid, Brown summarily executes five of them, citing the biblical command to exact "an eye for an eye." His actions sicken John, Jr., and fearing for his sanity, Jason decides to turn himself and his brother over to the Union army. Later Frederick, horrified by the morning's events, also decides to leave. Owen, however, remains despite Elizabeth's accusation that he has become a murderer like his father. Frederick is later killed at his campsite, and the Ruffians attack and burn the settlement. After Owen is seriously wounded during the attack, Elizabeth overcomes Brown's disapproval to nurse him back to health. In the meantime, Brown orders the discouraged settlers to rebuild the settlement, so that they will be able to vote in the statehood election. When Owen recovers, he tells Elizabeth that he loves her, and she admits that she returns his affection, although she still dislikes his values. Brown's other two sons return to Ohio, leaving only Owen to support his father. On the day the voting takes place, Elizabeth speculates bitterly that even if the vote goes his way, Brown will not be satisfied but will continue his fight elsewhere. Owen does not believe her, but promises that no matter what, he will return to Ohio to continue farming. Elizabeth then accepts his marriage proposal. Elizabeth proves to be prophetic, however, and after the family is reunited in Ohio, Brown announces that his work is not finished. Only Oliver and Brown's youngest son Watson are willing to follow him, but then, despite his promise to Elizabeth, Owen vows to join his father. In 1858, Brown raises money from Boston intellectuals, including Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. With the money, he buys guns and ships them to Harpers Ferry in Virginia, where he expects slaves to escape and join him in a revolt. While Owen and two other men wait in a nearby schoolhouse for the escaping slaves, Brown leads the rest of the men in an attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. When Brown tells the black guard that he has come to free the slaves, the man responds that he has been free for eight years and does not step aside. After he has secured some hostages, Brown, who intends to exchange them for the freedom of the slaves, sends a soldier to inform the Army of his actions. To Brown's mortification, the expected revolt does not take place, and Watson and Oliver are killed in the ensuing fight with the Army, led by Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee. At the schoolhouse, Ned Green, a freed slave, prevents Owen from joining Brown, pointing out that his father's efforts have failed. Later, Brown is found guilty of treason and sentenced to death by hanging. Owen attempts to gain his father's release, but Brown states his belief that it is his duty to be martyred. In 1859, Brown is hanged. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.