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Film Recap: Page 1
begins with Tom Dobb (Al Pacino) and his son Ned (Sid Owen) sailing on the Hudson River toward New York City. It is July 9, 1776 not long after the signing of Declaration of Independence
and the partisans in the city are celebrating. They tear down the horsed statue of King George III. In the midst of the celebration the aristocratic Loyalist Mrs. McConnahay (Joan Plowright) and her daughters Betsy, Amy and Daisy (Nastassia Kinski) are in a carriage making their way through the crowded streets. Daisy does not share her family's Loyalist slant and she leaves the carriage over her mother's objections to join the celebration. Daisy joins the Liberty Lady (Annie Lennox) in the celebration and they make their way to the docks. Dobb is docking his boat when the Liberty Lady demands the use of his boat for the Patriot cause.
Dobb will not comply, but men and soldiers seize his boat and remove Dobb. A Continental officer gives Dobb a note for $70 for the boat. Leaving his son, Tom Dobb makes his way to city hall where others are there with notes also trying to receive their money. They are told that there is no money presently, but to hold onto the note and they will be paid eventually. Dobb returns to find that his son has enlisted with the Continental Army as a drummer boy for five shillings. Dobb tries to withdraw his son's enlistment, but the officer will not let him do so. Instead he tells Dobb that the only way he can stay with his son is to enlist himself. Dobb angrily signs the registry.
Daisy brings food to the men in the field. She helps the doctor at the field hospital as he has to amputate a leg. As she is walking home, she sees Tom Dobb and his son lying in the field next to the road. Tom has a small wound. She dresses it as he tells of the horror of the Battle of Brooklyn Heights and how everyone ran. She now looks taken with Tom Dobb. Their reverie is broken by horsed Continental officers who are herding the men back to the road into ranks.
Tom, Ned and the Continentals are now on the battlefield. They take position along a wooden fence as they see the British line up. Sergeant Peasy (Donald Sutherland) leads the British across the field. Their discipline and unwavering march unnerves the Continentals who find themselves fleeing in terror. Seargeant Peasy and his men come up on some Continentals who have thrown down their weapons and are surrendering. Peasy runs them through and continues on. Tom and Ned flee from the field.
The British have now occupied New York. Mr. McConnahay proudly stands beside the British officers as they announce their repatriation of the city. Daisy watches in disgust, while her sisters dream of marrying well. She runs off and runs into Tom and Ned. She is disgusted and distraught that they deserted from the army. Tom says that everyone ran. She calls him a coward.
That night Daisy discovers that her parents have agreed to quarter two British officers. At dinner, she watches her two sisters fawn over each officer as their mother looks on approvingly. Daisy then sits beside one of the officers and begins vying for his attention. When he begins to give her his attentions over her sister, she takes a stick from her hair that she had decorated with an American flag, stabs him in the groin and flees the room. Upstairs, she is trashing her room, when her mother enters and disowns her.
The story jumps ahead to Spring 1777 as the British are preparing to march north. Tom is working in a mill and Ned comes to see him. They argue after Tom tells Ned to be cautious and that they will leave and return to the backcountry if it is the only way to escape the war. Ned accuses his father of being a coward and always running away. Just then a British officer strolls through the mill. He selects Tom as the second man for a 'fox' hunt for the soon-departing officers.
The two men are tied to a stuffed effigy of George Washington
and covered with fox scent for the dogs to track. They are given a pass to get past the (battle) lines and a head start. The other man, a bigger fellow, grows weary of running and wants to stop, but Tom wants to wash the scent off in the nearby creek. They argue and Tom cuts him loose. The dogs catch the bigger man who still has the scent on him and attack him. Tom is soon caught as well, but only after he has washed most of the scent off and is thus saved from the dogs jumping him.
At the British camp, Sergeant Peasy (Donald Sutherland) presides over a funeral. He's burying another one of his drummer boys. He talks to his last remaining drummer boy Ben and decides that they need more boys. Back in New York, Ned sits with one of his friends. They talk about the Patriot cause and then take out their drumsticks and start drumming beats on the stone floor. Sergeant Peasy walks through the mill where they are staying and finds the two boys. Daisy happens to see Ned as the boys are taken away in the back of a wagon.
Daisy sets out in search of Tom. Even in an otherwise cheery atmosphere, she finds Tom brooding in the shadows, apparently over his argument with Ned. She tells him that Ned has been taken by the British. He says he needs a boat to go get Ned. They head to the river and secure a boat. As he unties the boat and begins to push away from the wharf, he thanks Daisy for bringing him news of Ned's capture. She says that they could have "spoken" as he rows away.
Ned is with Ben and several other new boys as they are being addressed by Sergeant Peasy. He is interrupted by a corporal who wants a boy to "shine his shoes." Peasy leads the boys to the corporal's tent. The corporal selects Ned, who bites his hand in defiance. Peasy ties Ned to a cannon and lashes his feet. Ned's friend earns his own whipping for trying to come to Ned's defense.
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