Shenandoah centers upon one person, a sort of behind-the-scenes glimpse of one man’s family in Virginia during the Civil War.
Screenplay focuses on Stewart, a prosperous Virginia farmer in 1863 who completely ignores the strife raging around him. A widower, he has raised his family of six sons and one daughter to be entirely self-contained. Not believing in slavery, he wants no part in a war based upon it, providing the conflict does not touch either his land or his family. When his youngest, a 16-year-old boy whose mother died giving birth and who therefore occupies a particular spot in the father’s heart, is captured as a Reb by Unionists, the farmer then makes the war his own business.
Stewart, seldom without a cigar butt in the corner of his mouth, endows his grizzled role with warm conviction.
Battle sequences are well integrated with the family’s efforts to lead a normal life, and Andrew McLaglen is responsible for some rousing hand-to-hand action between the Blue and the Grey.
1965: Nomination: Best Sound