If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox

Interestingly, this film was done in 1982, well before the YouTube Era.  You will have to excuse me, but for some reason I find this sort of video to be quite funny.  This one clearly reflects the persistence of the “Grant the Drunk” narrative.  A more recent video that depicts Grant with bottle can be found here.  Enjoy.

14 thoughts on “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox

  1. davidwoodbury

    This is based on James Thurber's story from The New Yorker in 1930. I remember reading it in one collection or another in high school. This video must come from the TV show, “My World and Welcome to it,” which dramatized some of his short stories.

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  2. toby

    I remember reading this skit of Thurber's years ago & found it hilarious. Even on this side of the Atlantic, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was a prescribed story in some school English courses.

    Reading some of this short essays, he seems to have had a Civil War link through his grandfather, who (unless it was a bit of whimsy) claimed to know Sherman personally as “Cump”. The Thurbers were from Ohio, so it is possibly true.

    Another of his essays, “The Civil War Phone-Number Association”, describes a (peculiar) method of memorizing telephone numbers (5 digits only!) from dates of events in the war.

    My favorite has nothing to do with the Civil War – in “There's No Place like Home” , Thurber pays a visit to France by consulting a bilingual phrase book. I won't spoil it, but I think it is one of the funniest pieces ever written, guaranteed to raise a smile.

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    1. toby

      I googled Thurber and the Civil War & it appears that his grandfather was indeed a Union Army veteran. He turns up in stories as mad old coot who thinks the war is still going on.A typical quote is “.. the federal Union was run by a passel of blockheads and that the Army of the Potomac didn't have any more chance than a fiddler's bitch”

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  3. Brooks D. Simpson

    There you go again, mocking an American hero. Of course, as Grant's not a Confederate hero, you will still get a pass in some quarters. But if this had been Robert E. Lee … you lefty academic …

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    1. Kevin Levin

      You are absolutely right. I never get any credit from Williams when I poke fun at Union guys. I can't win, but than again I'm just an insignificant academic-atheist-leftist.

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  4. David Bowler

    I made this short film because I loved the story and I thought it would make a good film. At that time I had visions of becoming a filmmaker (I still secretly harbor the same thoughts!)

    Thurber's widow eventually gave me permission to use the story for the film but I never did anything with it. I am glad that you enjoyed it. You Tube has allowed me to finally “show” my film. By the way, I paid nothing for the battle scenes. We simply filmed a weekend of Civil War re-enactments and cut it into an opening for the story.
    David Bowler

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    1. Kevin Levin

      Mr. Bowler,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's nice to hear from the filmmaker himself. The ability to easily access amateur and professional videos gives me the opportunity to explore a whole new aspect of Civil War memory in popular culture. I got a kick out of the video. Thanks and best of luck to you.

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  5. Stephen Maxam

    Well, I am about to do a script on this little odd-faceted gem. I see Grant as having a monumental hangover and therefore experiencing a pea-souper of a fog. He will be taking his time making any moves or dialogue and I think this is one way to convey the humor. There will be a sharp contrast between him and Lee, who will not see the humor of it, but will remain the gentleman he was.
    With a sympathetic portrayal of Lee, this may play well in the South. I feel particularly qualified since I was an active alcoholic oh so many years ago and have not forgotten what a hangover is like. References will be Cat Ballou and the first episode of Jeeves and Wooster. Anybody got any money? I mean it is just a few empty bottles, a hammock, and a table or two, plus some old papers. A sympathetic actor or two would help, though.

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