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Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003)

 
 

A Question of Honor

Aidan Quinn in Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003)

As a fearless leader and soldier Benedict Arnold (Aidan Quinn) is respected by many including his close friend George Washington (Kelsey Grammer). But whilst having saved the country from the loyalist invaders and almost losing a leg in the process Benedict finds himself poorly treated by those in command and in doing so igniting the short fuse on his temper. Having married Peggy Shippen (Flora Montgomery), a loyalist, he finds himself all the more neglected by those he fought for and decides to switch side to the loyalists, not before convincing Washington to put him in charge of West Point with a secret plan to hand it over to the British.

As a Brit who went through the British education system of the 80s my historical knowledge is terrible, it is little surprise when I say I knew nothing of Benedict Arnold other than the name when chunks of my own British history was never covered let alone American history. But lack of knowledge has never been one to put me off watching a movie and so I found myself watching the TV movie "Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor" an A & E production and I found myself riveted, well riveted after spending a few minutes reading up on Benedict Arnold.

Kelsey Grammer in Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003)

Now it should come as little surprise when I say I haven't a clue as to how accurate "Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor" is although I would imagine it is fairly accurate because you don't want to mess around with the story of America's most infamous traitor. What I will say is that visually it is an effective but typical period TV production with that feel of a studio having employed a large group of re-enactment enthusiasts to fill in the background behind a handful of actors. And if that was the case there is nothing wrong with that as it works.

But what makes "Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor" so entertaining are the central two characterizations as whilst the script does not permit the most in depth look at the Benedict Arnold story the acting gets across some of his motivations. Aidan Quinn is stunning as Arnold because he plays him with passion, we see that he is a patriot but one who is not so blinded by his patriotism to not fall for someone who was a loyalist, but we also see how he had little respect for those who disagreed with him and had a short fuse. Quinn for me makes the movie but at the same time Kelsey Grammer is very good as George Washington and plays him with a sense of conflict as he finds himself dealing with the politicians and military leaders whilst also dealing with his hot headed friend Arnold who he respected.

What this all boils down to is that "Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor" is for me, someone with lousy historical knowledge of my own country let alone another's, a thoroughly engaging movie. It does what this sort of production intended and that is to be entertaining but also to educate with Aidan Quinn being a huge reason why it is so effective.

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