Civil War dramas were a staple of the early motion picture industry, perhaps because so many veterans of that conflict were still alive. The Blue and the Grey: Or, the Days of '61 begins at West Point, just before the beginning of the war. Two cadets, friends since childhood, are ideologically separated, with one casting his lot with the Union while the other remains loyal to Dixie. When he refuses to capture his old friend as ordered, the Union boy is sentenced to be shot at sunrise. In standard stage-melodrama tradition, the condemned man is saved by a pardon from President Abraham Lincoln himself. With only one reel of film at their disposal, the producers left several credibility gaps in the story, but audiences went home happy.
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