I found the following info (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ride_with_the_Devil_(film) posted under "Production and reception" at the Wikipedia entry for the Ang Lee movie "Ride With The Devil" (1999)
"The scenes of the Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas were filmed in Pattonsburg, Missouri. Pattonsburg was flooded out during the Great Flood of 1993, and the town was relocated leaving the empty buildings and homes available."
"The film was intended to be a summer blockbuster, costing over US$35 million to produce (a large sum for most Westerns). However, despite majority positive reviews by film critics it received negative press after screenings because of the portrayal of a Black Confederate guerrilla by Jeffrey Wright in a role based on Free Black John Noland who rode with Confederate raider Quantrill."
"Controversy surrounding events depicted in the film is at odds with the factual nature of guerilla warfare in Missouri during the Civil War. Historical accounts, such as Jasper County, Missouri in the Civil War (1923) by Col. Ward L. Schrantz, document the warfare depicted in the film."
"The film was released on around 140 screens in the U.K. for a limited run and made barely over £100,000. It was then released without any promotion on eight U.S. screens for a limited run of only three days (January 20-22, 2000) fetching only $64,000."
"The scheduled home video release of the movie was delayed four months so the distributor could alter the cover art and remove Jeffrey Wright's image from the front video and DVD and as of 2003 had yet to turn a profit."
(1) Does anyone have any details re exactly what happened to the film's release and the controversy re the portrayal of an African American guerrilla (based on historical reality) in the movie?
(2) Who, exactly, were the villains in releasing the film here in the US - any names/organizations that can be shared with us?
It sounds like the movie's release was sabotaged by PC powers-that-be; wonder if this will happen again for the supposed movie to be made for "Widow Of The South" (fiction based on battle of Franklin, TN).
More info re Black guerrilla/scout John Noland is provided below:
By Steve Fry
The Topeka Capital-Journal
September 27, 2001
Before William Clarke Quantrill and hundreds of his Missouri guerrillas raided Lawrence in 1863, John Noland rode ahead to scout out the town.
Noland, Quantrill's primary scout, is just one of many blacks who served in Confederate units during the Civil War, said historian Ed Kennedy, who will speak at 6:30 p.m. today to the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Kansas at the Koch Education Center at the Kansas History Center, 6425 S.W. 6th. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Noland joined Quantrill because his family in Missouri had been abused by Jayhawkers, Kansas guerrillas who raided Missouri and later were mustered into the Union forces, Kennedy said. Photographs of Quantrill's raiders as they attended reunions after the Civil War show Noland sitting prominently with white members of the group.
In the 1999 movie "Ride With the Devil," Noland is the basis for the character Daniel Holt, the freed black who along with his former owner rides with Quantrill's bushwhackers, Kennedy said.
It is difficult to determine how many blacks fought in the Confederate forces, in part because many Confederate records were destroyed. Kennedy estimates seven percent to eight percent of the Confederate forces might have been black.
Kennedy cites a number of sources, including diaries, letters, private publications, the "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion" and writings of black scholars.
.. A Union sanitary commission officer saw 3,000 black armed combatants in the Confederate Army moving through Fredricksburg, Va., in 1862.
.. An 1862 letter from Frederick Douglass to President Abraham Lincoln in which Douglass writes that many blacks serve in the Confederate Army as "real soldiers having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government."
.. Pensions were paid to black Confederate soldiers.
.. And photographs showed black veterans, who "wore their veterans badges as proudly as any whites."
Blacks served in the Confederate Army "for the same reason they defended the United States colonies in the Revolutionary War," Kennedy said. "They were patriots," who thought their homes were being invaded by the Union. They felt like this was their home, that this was their country. They weren't fighting for slavery."
The black Confederates were a combination of free blacks and slaves who were house servants accompanying white masters, Kennedy said. Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest freed 44 of his slaves after they served Forrest's cavalry forces, Kennedy said. Unlike blacks in the Union Army who served in all-black regiments, blacks in the Confederate Army fought in mixed units, he said.
The topic of black Confederate soldiers is rarely talked about because "it's not politically correct," Kennedy said. Some people who hear about black soldiers fighting in the Confederate Army "just go ballistic," Kennedy said. He likens their reaction to people who didn't know blacks served in the Union Army before release of the 1989 movie "Glory," the film about the 54th Massachusetts, an all-black unit Union regiment. (The first black regiment to fight in the Civil War was the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry.)
Civil War Historian Ed Kennedy is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army and a former instructor of history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He teaches Army Reserve Officer Training Corps classes at Leavenworth High School and is co-owner of Historical Leadership Seminars, a private company that takes corporate executives to battlefields to teach leadership and decision-making skills.
Copyright 2001 Topeka Capital-Journal